As an industry sector that’s success depends on rapidly moving technology and creativity, gaming is one that is always sure to change. As satisfied as many players appear to be with Call of Duty and other games which dominate the chart, you can be sure if the hardware and software do not make progress in the next five years, they will be left behind.
This current generation of consoles was one of the most intriguing battles. In the previous generation the PS2 was dominant, and was so popular production on it has only just ceased. The 7th generation however saw the PS3 lagging behind due to a late release and high price point. While it was a monster of a machine, Nintendo captured an ever growing casual gamer market with motion controls, and Xbox 360 captured the core market of gamers with a machine that appears to be technically inferior to the PS3, but to this day has still not been tangibly out done on performance.
For the next generation, they will need to surprise us with some significant innovation if they want to hold onto their respective markets. While the console market is a difficult one to break into, downloading games and utilising processing power in the cloud has reduced costs to entry for potential new competitors such as Steam box and Project Shield, which have come from players already in the industry.
Steam acted as a medium for downloading and playing PC games previously, while Nvidia provided graphics chips. Both now believe there is an opportunity to challenge the big three players in the consoles market of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, so they will certainly need to raise their game in a generation of consoles marked by a bigger variety of competition.
While it appears impossible to improve the graphics, many of us believed that to be the case 10 years ago. More powerful machines will probably not suffice since current gen consoles can already output games in 1080p and even 3D.
One area that the companies will surely be working on is a more immersive virtual reality experience, possibly using VR helmets or glasses, such as ones recently demonstrated by Google and also under patent by Microsoft. Motion controllers were surely only the start. Our next generation consoles will likely take steps to make us feel that we are truly in the game, however Microsoft and Sony would be fools to dispense with traditional button controllers in the upcoming generation.
Nintendo Moves First
Nintendo have been first to show their hand. Their new Wii U console combines buttons, motion and touchscreen controls to offer a wide range of control methods to appeal to all users, and other than a screen within the controller, it isn’t particularly innovative, a hazard of moving first.
Nintendo’s machine was beginning to show its age compared to the other consoles and it was perhaps forced into making a move to defend against dwindling sales. The Nintendo Wii was one of the fastest selling consoles ever, opening up new markets of casual gamers who had never bought a console before, and extending the consoles purpose with games like Wii fit. However with Microsoft and PlayStation moving to create peripherals that eclipsed the Wii in technical terms, and being able to offer their consoles at a base price that challenged the Wii, Nintendo had to move quickly with a new console to retain a competitive footing.
Hopefully the other major players will present us with something more exciting to make us join the next generation.