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Opinion

Opinion: Why Next Gen Is About To Get A Lot More Tempting

A bit of a dry spell.

New console launches are a peculiar time. We spend a year or more in eager anticipation of any kind of definite news that they even exist and then several months breathlessly awaiting their arrival. And then they launch and that stomach-twisting vacuum is suddenly filled with new boxes of microchips and new games, new controllers and new applications. New arguments about graphics and resolution and infinitesimal hardware details that the vast majority of us do not entirely (or even partially) understand.

But it never lasts as long as we hoped it would (except the arguments, those last much longer than we’d like). Before long, you’ve noticed the uncomfortable quirks of the new user interface and you’ve finished playing the handful of launch titles you were most excited about; Killzone: Shadow Fall is back in its case and Ryse: Son of Rome is wedged between a couple of dusty DVDs on your shelf. You wonder why that interesting secondary feature of the system software still hasn’t been patched in and you gaze forlornly at the pile of peripherals you bought for your previous consoles, which show no signs of functioning with your new electronic sweetheart.

This is the unfortunate reality of being an early adopter. You get the breathless launch excitement and the water-cooler bragging rights but all-too-soon you’re fielding awkward questions about what you’ve been playing recently and how long it is until the next big flagship exclusive is released. This is where we are now, but it won’t be forever. Redemption is just around the corner with the second wave of big games.

Titanfall-Preview2-IL3

Titanfall is doing a good job of taking the pre-launch media cycle by the throat and everyone I know that has played it is overwhelmingly positive about it. While that’s due on PC as well as Xbox One, with the Xbox 360 version coming a few weeks late, it seems to be primarily being pushed as an Xbox One flagship game. A tentpole of their second wave of releases and a good reason for them to hasten work on correcting a few software missteps that had social functions of their console feeling like a lower priority.

Microsoft is rushing to address the initial round of complaints about its user interface by adding those social elements, getting their official headset out and making voice controls less frustratingly temperamental, hopefully just in time for Titanfall’s release. Sony too are starting the incremental patching process that adds back the features we hoped for at launch and makes their users more comfortable to recommend it to their friends.

It’s not something that will happen overnight, far from it, but the system software patching process is a key area in which the new consoles are set to defy their detractors and capture another stream of eager purchasers who are caught up in the anticipation for their next flush of shiny new games.

inFamousSS-PreFeb-IL1

You might be most looking forward to the gorgeous looking smoky particles and neon bloom of inFamous: Second Son. Who could blame you? Sucker Punch’s exploration of a new character within their super-powered world of moral choice and immoral miscreants is the most exciting big-budget PlayStation exclusive on the horizon. The success of the first two inFamous games seems on course to be surpassed in accomplishment, if not sales.

That’s another thing we have to get used to as early adopters in the console arms-race: we’re no longer part of a huge and very financially attractive user base. We’re starting again. It’s true that this generation of consoles, well the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 at least, has rocketed off to an exceptionally promising start. But the combined sales of around 8 million pales in comparison to a user base on last generation’s consoles from the same manufacturers of somewhere close to 160 million. That’s why EA isn’t making a FIFA World Cup game for your Xbox One or PlayStation 4. There just aren’t enough of us to justify its production costs.

It’s not just EA, either, every major publisher will doubtless be having these sort of discussions. Is it worth the work hours to port something onto new hardware when the potential user base isn’t quite large enough to guarantee a return on that investment? Development cycles last many years and cost millions of dollars/pounds/yen, it’s impractical to change the focus of development halfway through a project and it’s unreasonable to expect a release on a platform simply because that’s the platform our selfish little hearts desire it on.

Luckily, this means that there are still some potential gems on the horizon for those who put off their consumerist evolution to the next generation of consoles. Gran Turismo 6 stubbornly graced the PlayStation 3 just a week after the PS4’s European release, Lightning Returns is out very soon, Persona 5 is a little further off and World of Tanks just arrived on Xbox 360. These alongside the games and developers who are straddling both generations with their releases meant the more frugal (or simply more restrained) among you still have plenty to look forward to.

LightningReturns-960

So our joyous little pastime is at a peculiar stage in its development. There are a few remaining big names on the way for each company’s older hardware and there are a few on the way for each company’s newest hardware. That’s a balance which will shift over the coming months though, as we enter the period I like to think of as “announcement season” and the industry’s big publishers dust off their megaphones and prepare to take centre stage.

Evolve has already burst onto the scene and GDC is just around the corner. Starting on March 17th, it’s not traditionally the place for new game announcements, but we are likely to see some new details on things we already know about and we might see a few publishers capitalise on the extra excitement around the industry to release information about their upcoming projects away from the conference itself. Then we’ll have PAX East in April where we’re should see a little bit more from publishers and certainly some smaller developers capitalising on the fan engagement at those events.

But the big show is still in Los Angeles. This year’s E3 might not play host to the new-console excitement when it kicks off with stage presentations on June 9th, but it will doubtless be the stage for a plethora of exciting next-gen game announcements. Some of those, at least, should see release before the end of 2014 and many will hopefully provide compelling reasons for those still clinging to their previous generation consoles to splash out on the new machines, increasing our collective allure as an install base.

As early adopters, we’re weathering a kind of dry spell with our new consoles right now. Have patience and that will give way to verdant pastures and many new friends amid the refreshing downpour we’ll get during the spring. We’ll soon have those water-cooler bragging rights back.

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26 Comments
  1. bunimomike
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    Lovely stuff, fella.

    It’s the very reason why I’m not shifting over to a PS4 any time soon. It’ll be this year, I feel, but at my own speed seeing as the PS3 continues to get plenty of lovin’ as well as my PC for those pesky games that fail to make it to a PlayStation altogether. :-)

    Comment posted on 13/02/2014 at 16:37.
    • blast71
      Member
      Since: May 2012

      Same here. My PS3 backlog will take me ages to get through, and I’m still to buy Last of Us, Far Cry 3, Dishonoured, Bioshock Infinity, Tomb Raider, and a few others I can’t think of. At this rate, it’ll be another 12-18 months before I take the PS4 plunge.

      Comment posted on 13/02/2014 at 18:11.
      • ron_mcphatty
        Member
        Since: Sep 2008

        For me the best place to be during this dry spell is firmly stuck between my PS3 backlog and my Vita, both of which could amuse me all year if they had to. Right now the anticipation of getting a PS4 is probably more fun for me than owning one and the huge cost puts it fairly low on the priority list. The PS4 can wait a bit longer while I save and lap up all the news :)

        Comment posted on 13/02/2014 at 23:05.
      • zb100
        Member
        Since: Aug 2008

        Hear hear. I am still stinging over year 1 of the PS3 & simply can’t justify the expenditure.

        In my opinion the biggest argument AGAINST the PS4 is PS+ – I’m overjoyed with the PS3/Vita titles being released & only (as with the Vita) one I have stockpiled enough titles will I get round to buying the 4!

        Comment posted on 16/02/2014 at 09:42.
  2. rept0n
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    I do feel that PlayStation Plus has made the post-release drought more than lubricated.

    Comment posted on 13/02/2014 at 17:01.
    • 2ofclubs
      Member
      Since: Sep 2008

      A very good point and, more importantly, a good use of the word lubricated.

      Comment posted on 15/02/2014 at 15:10.
  3. Lieutenant Fatman
    Member
    Since: Jul 2013

    I’ve been loving Resogun and Don’t Starve, and Super Motherload is good fun as well. But yeah, looking forward to seeing more games released soon. Still have the PS3 and Vita though so it’s all good.

    Comment posted on 13/02/2014 at 17:18.
  4. paulleeper2430
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    The thing that is annoying me is that games are £50. I can’t justify spending that much money. Living off ps+ games currently, but what I’d love to know is if this is just an early days type thing for all new consoles and if game prices will return to £39.99?

    Comment posted on 13/02/2014 at 17:24.
    • Peter Chapman
      Team TSA: Editor
      Since: Forever

      I’d guess that you’ll have to wait and see if they’ll return to the usual UK reductions at £40-ish. I would suggest that if publishers and retailers see they’re selling at the newly inflated price (to customers, this has been RRP for a while now but retailers discounted before) then they’ll hold firm but if they think they can sell more at a slightly discounted price, they will.

      Comment posted on 13/02/2014 at 17:34.
    • bunimomike
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      I haven’t taken the plunge with a PS4, yet, but I feel the same. Those prices are very tricky to justify so I will definitely be enjoying the “sell on” when I offload any given title on eBay, etc.

      God knows it makes it easier to fund the next purchase too.

      Play.com is £49 or so for AC: Black Flag and I’d be throwing that straight back online the moment I finish it. Would get around £41 or so from eBay.

      Comment posted on 13/02/2014 at 17:46.
    • beeje13
      Member
      Since: Jan 2010

      Games aren’t £50 at the moment.

      Titanfall is around £40-45, but that may have something to do with it being online-only. I found Infamous for £45 in a couple of places.

      Thief, Lego movie game is £35 on Simplygames, Metal gear solid only £25, although it is a very short game.

      Comment posted on 13/02/2014 at 17:55.
  5. freezebug2
    Member
    Since: Dec 2008

    Like owning a Ferrari during the fuel strike rationing. Still, there’s always knobs to twiddle.

    Comment posted on 13/02/2014 at 17:38.
    • blast71
      Member
      Since: May 2012

      Yes, playing a bit of ‘hand shandy’ costs nothing, and never gets boring ;P

      Comment posted on 13/02/2014 at 18:05.
    • freezebug2
      Member
      Since: Dec 2008

      Lol, not heard that phrase since before Tommy bought his tank. :P

      Comment posted on 13/02/2014 at 18:14.
  6. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    Even though there were probably fewer games available for PS3, i’m noticing the void more so with PS4 because of the lack of media playback (cds/mp3s) and also my PS3 was backwards compatible and i could mess around with OtherOs.

    I’m looking forward to seeing the new releases kick up a gear over the next few months.

    Comment posted on 13/02/2014 at 17:47.
    • ron_mcphatty
      Member
      Since: Sep 2008

      The backward compatibility certainly kept me occupied, I must’ve wasted hours watching SSX 3 crash the console, reset it, play one event then crash it again. I sort of long for the feature, but not for the alarming krrrgeeunnnk of the lock up.

      Comment posted on 13/02/2014 at 23:10.
  7. beeje13
    Member
    Since: Jan 2010

    Everything you said in para no.2 Is 100% true!

    Comment posted on 13/02/2014 at 17:56.
  8. freezebug2
    Member
    Since: Dec 2008

    I feel sorry for the gamers that struggled to get the cash together in paying for a next gen console which meant forfeiting their last gen machines as a trade in. I think that they have been slightly let down, especially with games like Drive Club being delayed as it has and being one of the major launch titles.
    Cracking consoles, light on content so I’ll bide my time ta very!

    Comment posted on 13/02/2014 at 18:00.
    • wonkey-willy
      Member
      Since: Jan 2010

      very good point freeze
      my intentions were to trade in my ps3 and games due to lack of backwards compatibility.
      fortune (or misfortune) has it my 360 died on me so i popped it on ebay and got £60.00 towards my ps4.
      all my games and controllers went to Game and i put the money on gift cards.
      ended up not having to part with much money and my beloved ps3.
      now my missus keeps moaning at me “when you getting rid of the ps3?”
      “when dear there is a decent amount of ps4 games now get back to the sink”
      seriously thought there is dick all out for ps4 that has made me part with my money.
      so far i have just done the ps3 to ps4 upgrades.
      until then i have a massive backlog of ps3 games to keep me satisfied well into the year.

      Comment posted on 13/02/2014 at 22:19.
      • freezebug2
        Member
        Since: Dec 2008

        Lucky escape there wonk, holding onto the PS3 as well as buying next gen.
        See, that £60-£100 valuation that you’d probably have got for a trade in on the PS3 bears no resemblance to it’s real value for you personally with all of it’s active content, especially if that includes heaps of Plus goodness. One man’s gold another man’s pigshit, and all that ;)

        Comment posted on 14/02/2014 at 10:45.
  9. plutoniumdragon
    Member
    Since: Dec 2008

    I’m giving both consoles a miss and sticking with my PC, at least for now.
    Will probably be getting tESOL, so that will take up some gaming time ;)
    That said Infamous was my favourite game of the PS3, so it is still somewhat tempting…ah well, maybe later ;)

    Comment posted on 13/02/2014 at 18:24.
  10. Andrewww
    Member
    Since: Jan 2010

    I’m actually quite happy with what I got on the PS4, with fantastic Outlast, KZ:SF, Resogun, AC IV, and Battlefield 4. As my attention is divided between 3 systems anyway, catching up with a backlog and Plus games, more must-haves on the PS4 I simply couldn’t cope with… :o)
    And for streaming I still got the PS3 anyway.
    The only thing I struggle with, is the sound output of the PS4. As cool as the headphone jack on the controller is if I play on my own, I didn’t manage to get the sound to my stereo, which obviously has no HDMI. Got to check whether I can get the sound there via the beamer.
    And if my G25 will not work on the PS4 at some point, I’ll definitely be pissed off.

    Comment posted on 14/02/2014 at 08:09.
    • Peter Chapman
      Team TSA: Editor
      Since: Forever

      Maybe check your TV for an optical output or look into whether you could use HDMI ARC functions with your sound system? You can get converter boxes that split off audio from an HDMI input but I think they’re expensive. I hope you get sorted though, TV speakers just aren’t good enough once you get used to richer depth of sound.

      Comment posted on 14/02/2014 at 13:09.
      • Andrewww
        Member
        Since: Jan 2010

        Thanks for the hints. Problem is I got no TV, as I’ve got used to the 3m in diagonal that a beamer offers. But possibly I could reroute the sound via the beamer, if it got a sound out channel somewhere. Or get a new stereo, but my budget for gadgets is not limitless.

        Comment posted on 14/02/2014 at 13:35.

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