Before I begin this blog, should I preface with "inb4 rabid fanboys disregard blog content and only read title?" And also with "inb4 OP can't inb4?"
Thankfully, now that I've gotten that out of the way, I feel the need to speak my mind on this matter in a place where I cannot be given 200 disagrees by rabid fanboys and bubbled down into oblivion with my opinion being hidden due to the hive-mind that is N4G's sporadic dislike of anything that is counter to what they believe. Referring back to my title, yes 'next-gen' is nothing but a farce. It is no longer a valid title, that is, a valid title used by the companies producing video games and in the way many people have begun commonly using it. What is the common use of the term now you may ask? Well the term has for some reason come to represent graphics. But I mean, if that is the case, why are a majority of games released this generation which are graphically mediocre not considered to be past-gen games?
Now, the hypocritical majority of voices that exist on this website are the true spurring movement behind writing this piece. I'm simply fed up with all the (insert derogatory adjective here) posters belittling various (see: Nintendo) console(s) and their publishers because it doesn't fit their on the spot thought up definition of the term 'next-gen'. So what do I intend at accomplish this this blog post? Realistically not a whole lot. However I do hope to have a sum of people actually read through this post, preferably those who misuse the term 'next-gen'. And maybe it will get more members of this 'community' to react to that use of the term, effectively stopping it.
First of all, we must begin the question: what is really 'next-gen'? What does the term mean? Well a quick Google search of "next generation video games" yields a Wikipedia article as the second result. Normally, Wikipedia is a great source to gain basic and advanced information (don't listen to your teachers.) This article, "The History of Video Games", seems to be very appropriate in accordance with this blog. Hence, a video game console generation is defined in my own words as correlating to all the information on that article: the next iteration of consoles released by companies to the home market.
But, what does this mean towards a console generation? (Brace yourself, because in comes a quick history lesson on console generations.) It means that the first console generation began in 1972 with the Magnavox Odyssey. A console which used Digital Electronics to run its games, games including Pong, Chase, and Computer Space. The second generation of consoles known as the 8 bit era began in 1976 with the 1292 Advanced Programmable Video System. Along with that other companies began to join the fray with the Atari 2600, the Intellivision, Odyssey 2, and Coleco vision all joining the market to compete. That is what is defined as the second generation. The third generation of video games, otherwise known as the 8 bit era began in 1983, with the Nintendo Family Computer, also known as the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) and the Sega SG-1000. The release of these consoles marked the end of the North American Video Game Crash of 1983. Along with these two were the MarkIII/MasterSystem also by Sega, and the Atari 7800. Following the third generation, the fourth generation known as the 16 bit era, began with the release of Nippon Electric Company's PC engine (also known as Turbo Grafx-16) in North America. The generation all consisted of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, the Neo Geo, the Commodore CDTV, the CD-i and the Super A'Can.
The Fifth Generation, also known as the 3D era due to the obvious use of 32/64 bit or 3D visuals consisted of four major competitors. The 3D0 Interactive Multiplayer, the Sega Saturn, the Playstation, and the Nintendo 64. Along with those consoles were a plethora of others, nine others to be exact, that I will not bother naming. Following fifth, the sixth generation consisted of the Dreamcast, the Playstation 2, the Nintendo Gamecube and the Xbox. Along with them came a variety of handhelds, though the focus for this blog is on home consoles.
Finally comes the seventh generation. The one we are currently in the transition phase out of. This generation consisted of three major console competitors: Xbox 360 by Microsoft, Playstation 3 by Sony, and the Wii by Nintendo (and the various handhelds to come out in this generation). Now, to what my point is for that mini history lesson. A console generation is marked by the iteration of consoles that come out in it. Many of the previous console generations I listed above consist of many video game consoles that I'm sure most people have never heard of. Does that mean they did not exist during that generation? Of course not, it does not such thing. So why is it that suddenly in the seventh to eight generation of consoles people believe this to not be true?
Here's what we know so far of the Eighth Generation. It consists of these currently released consoles: the Nintendo 3DS, the Playstation Vita, and the WiiU. We know it will also contain a newer console by Sony, most likely the Playstation 4. We also know that it will have a new console by Microsoft, the Next-Box, or 720, whatever you wish to call it. Also added into the fray are the OUYA (is this a last generation console also?) and NVidia's new combination handheld/pc console.
What does a generation not consist of though? Well for one it doesn't consist of the number of consoles. We've seen clearly that there were a huge number of consoles in the past and they were all apart of their own respective generations. It doesn't consist of player counts or amounts sold. That has been fluctuating between each and every generation. It surely doesn't consist of graphical capabilities, otherwise we'd be in a generation far past Eighth due to the PC platform, with console manufacturers playing catch up for several years. Even though previous console generations focused on graphics (8 bit, 16 bit) that was all that they had to focus on at the time. That was the most they could do with the hardware and the software that they had. In fact, most of the consoles were graphically equal at the time, so graphics only defined the progression that consoles were making, not their differences in power or graphical capabilities (let's be honest, there weren't many that I remember). Not to mention, in modern generations graphics still have stayed equal amongst most console video games. Even the games that people claim as superior (graphically) to others look just barely better, if at all.
So I have to re-iterate the entire point of this blog. A console generation is not the graphics, the units sold, or the playercount. A console generation is the succession of consoles for the major manufacturers. Now referring back to the title of my blog, why is 'next-gen' a farce? Well because it's used to represent something that it's not. Publishers and companies are using it to represent graphical content instead of what it really is. So do not listen to publishers such as EA or Activision or the like when they say what is or isn't 'next-gen'. Their primary purpose is to sell you video games at whatever price point they can make the most amount of money. If they can spin some sort of blatant misdirect to convince people what is or isn't a 'next-gen' system, they will. All in the name of taking your money. So I urge those reading this, stop using the term 'next-gen' just because you don't like something a manufacturer put out. Stop using it to define graphics (remember PC's guys, or do those not count suddenly because of another on the spot made up definition). And start using the term as what it's meant to be; a definition of succession of consoles. And let me finally remind you, there is no such thing as 'True Next-Gen'. The next-generation of consoles has already started, whether you like it or not.