Greetings game console compatriots. Ole DW here with your “Industry Reflection.”
We are mid-year into 2016, and the industry is abuzz with rumors and news regarding Nintendo’s project, code-named “NX,” Sony’s project, code-named “NEO,” and, Microsoft’s project code-named “Scorpio.” While Nintendo remains tight lipped (as usual) on their project, the device will of course be new (and much needed) console hardware with a target date of 2017. However, both Microsoft and Sony are exploring a different approach with their respective projects.
Microsoft and Sony’s projects are enhanced versions of their respective Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles. Although maintaining the overall functionality of the consoles released to market, the new projects will feature improvements to the architecture that will allow the consoles to render 4K resolution. The slight increments to the hardware would allow the console manufacturers to extend the life of the existing platform, and the enhanced versions would be sold alongside existing models of course with a markup.
So it seems Sony and Microsoft have drawn inspiration from a smartphone market that pushes new iterations of hardware with every passing year. Similar to how an IOS / Android mobile application will have improved graphics or speed based on the mobile chipset, console games could be patched to take advantage of the hardware improvements. This would allow compatibility with the original base model devices. So imagine “PC-Like” hardware upgrades without issues of driver incompatibility and consistent game performance consoles are known for.
So we have mixed feelings about these enhanced versions of Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The approach seems to encourage consumer consumption while penalizing early adopters. Surprisingly, this is nothing new. Existing console owners may feel scorned, but it seems to be the way of things with technology. No sooner then you buy a computer, television, or mobile device, it is already antiquated within months of purchase. It forced us to recall the instances when Sony released the high-priced Sony PSX in 2003. It reminded us how we felt when Microsoft released the Xbox 360 Elite after we had acquired a base model. Oh, and then there is the admiration we felt for those who got to purchase the cheaper and slimmer console models.
Ah well…. It could be worse. They could continue stripping console features per our last industry RANT. We wonder if Microsoft and Sony will also adopt subscription based smartphone models where you become eligible for an upgrade with trade-in at the end of your contract. ♫ Consumption junction…what’s your function….♫