TV, Apps And Waving Your Hands: Don’t Spoil Next Gen

E3’s a most beautiful thing, but it also brings out a rather frantic kind of reporting. Rumours, personal conjecture, flippant daydreaming: apparently the PS4 will be a million times more powerful than the sun and the Xbox Next 720 Core will butter your bread on both fecking sides.

You know what?  I’m bored of it all, already, and there’s still six months of this to wade through before Los Angeles actually tells us what’s happening and we can all forget about this nonsense.

[drop2]Except, of course, it’s all probably true.

I mean, sure, some of the words put down on screen about the next generation of consoles recently appear to have emerged from latent New Year’s hangovers, but there are elements of reality in amongst the fluff that tell parts of an emerging consistent story: whatever’s coming from Sony and Microsoft (whenever that might be) won’t be all about games, even more so than what’s currently on the shelves.

I remember unboxing a Megadrive, a PlayStation, an N64, they all played games and – mostly – that’s all they did.  And I seem to remember loving them.

We’ve been here before, of course, it wasn’t long ago that I was writing about the Metro interface on the 360, but things are already moving on since then and even if half the rumours that are being banded around come true, I’m left wondering what the focus of the new machines will actually end up being because I’m starting to think it won’t actually be games.

When did all this start to change? When did a games console only end up being about 25% games?

Of course, you can forgo all the streaming, the live TV, the dodgy substandard web browsers and the crippled YouTube interfaces, but that doesn’t mean the manufacturers will do – especially when they (I’m looking at you, Microsoft) are happy enough to wrap all this inside a pay wall carefully (but increasingly vaguely) called Xbox Live Gold.

It’s big money, all this, and it’s going to continue.

[drop]But even all that aside, there’s still this insistence on gesture control, on haptic connections and floaty, wavy lines and boxes big enough to eat your Corn Flakes off.

And if, like the most current playground talk suggests, the new Xbox will be more like the Wii U than anything else we can probably kiss goodbye to what we’d consider a ‘traditional’ console and controller setup for evermore. At least they won’t need to create something to run alongside the Vita, but I prefer my portables portable and my consoles to – you know – connect to my TV.

All the next gen needs to do is up the frame rate (seriously, thirty was never the new sixty, guys), make sure HD games actually run in HD and give them enough grunt so that 3D games don’t end up being crappy blurry messes that make your eyeballs bleed alongside your freshly empty wallet.

I don’t want to have to navigate through five menus before I can browse your online store, I don’t want to have to wave at something to make it happen and I certainly don’t want to buy hugely expensive controllers with fancy glass touchscreens on them.

Just bring me games, and I’m in.



  1. I think your view is quite rightly reflected by many other “single” gamers I’ll call them. Stuff like Move, Kinect and the Wii are bought primarily by families. 3D stuff is only bought by stupidly wealthy people. I’m an ordinary teenager looking to have a good time gaming, so just give me the game.

    • I can tell you the exact moment it all went wrong.

      The moment Microsoft decided they needed a box under the tv in everyone’s homes to forcefeed content, and the only way to achieve that was to launch the biggest disruptive marketing campaign off all time against Sony and the Ps3.

      • I’m a big PlayStation fan but Microsoft launching such a strong competitor to the ps3 has probably had a very positive effect. not only in the area’s where Microsoft got right (Xbox live = a better psn and having such a good indie games section and support for small developers which is now far stronger on PlayStation and thats almost entirely down to Sony having to compete with what was available on Xbox live) there wouldn’t be anywhere near the number of great PlayStation exclusives if they Sony didn’t have to compete with Microsoft and there’d be less money in the industry as a whole so 3rd party’s wouldn’t be as interested in developing great games.

  2. The games definitely should be the focus, but I like all the streaming and the added functionality. They just need to make it work and make it functional. The youtube app on the PS3 is…well, first of all it’s not actually an app it’s a web interface, and second it’s atrocious.

    And by added functionality I am not in any way referring to the horror that is Kinect. I can NOT control my 360 with Kinect, I fucking can’t. Voice control either doesn’t hear me or hears me when I’m not trying to use it, if I so much as fart it’ll pull me out of the 8 menus I had to sift through just to view what’s released recently on XBLA (that doesn’t really tell me in any kind of pleasing way) and dump me back on the damn home screen. Gestures don’t work when sat down, with the constant and very real possibility of the on-screen hand just flickering around the screen randomly instead of staying completely still like my real hand is doing – and it was, I stared at it in disappointment and it didn’t move an inch. The on-screen hand, meanwhile, was bitch-slapping everything on the screen.

    Everything about the Xbox’s interface needs to change. Perhaps they could get someone who isn’t arse-retarded to do it this time?

    What was I talking about? Oh yeah, more powerful, new games, new functionality, better interface (for the xbox, at least).

    • That’s really odd, kinect has been easy for me to use with Metro, i sit on my bed and it picks my hands up perfectly even when holding my controller on my lap it picks up both hands, with no crazy flickering cursor, and the voice works perfectly as well not had any problems when browsing the interface with it, apart from trying to bing Fez and it came up with “phase” but that’s understandable, and also once when listening to a podcast and it randomly searched something like ninja stealth halloween bee costume attack heli….. There was more but i can’t remember, it was madness!

  3. If all the next gen has to offer is a few more pixels, on your screen faster then consoles are going to return to the niche from whence they came.

    I want consoles powerful enough that your average bog-standard 3rd party can knock out games that run in 1080p60, without having to spend 5 years optimising code, sure… But there needs to be something else too

    This whole 2 screen approach which looks like it’s going to be adopted by Nintendo on the Wii-U and Sony on the PS3(4)+PSV and MS with the NextBox+WP8 seems nothing but an expensive folly

    along with a standard joypad something like Kinect, with the fidelity of Move would be a start, but it needs including in the box else it will forever be an afterthought with a limited install-base.

    The next console will probably be the last physical console, so they need to make it a great one.

    • If they want to do anything good with Kinect and core games when the neXtBox comes out they’ll have to have it in the box, or it won’t work.
      And i would like some kind of control pad with kinect, somthing that’s not always needed, but akin to a nunchuck and the navigation contoller (or what ever it’s called)

    • Give us VR with direct neural interface! I don’t care if they turn me into a battery as long as _I_ get to choose the program.

  4. I would hate cloud based systems because I would find it nearly impossible to trust the operators. I want to be able to retain a copy of the media I bought so I can use it when I want, including if a potential apocalyptic situation occurs so I can play my media in some abandoned building with a power generator :3.

    The Wii U I am very interested in, as I would like to see a lot more innovation in game control and interaction, and I think they have created a very interesting control set which remain as a core experience with a complete install base (people already have Wiimotes and Nunchuku accessories, which also doesn’t waste materials by rendering them obsolete). I’m not so interested with the other two console manufacturers unless they can deliver something more than just better hardware.

  5. I’m personally really happy that the PS3 is the digital entertainment centre of my home. My Mrs spends a lot of time with it, though never plays games. If it didn’t offer all of the options we use, she would be desperately unhappy to have it in the lounge at all and I’d be relegated to the other room :-)

    It fanstastic for watching movies, listening to music, viewing photos, just a shame it’s so shit at browsing the web. Great for video chats with my family who never get to see my 2 year old son as they’re so far away, I don’t want them to get rid of any of this.

    It wont stop developers making games, they’re what sell. As long as we continue to have it all in the next generation I’ll be happy, I don’t want them to get rid of a single part of what the PS3 offers, just give me more.

  6. Some of it is good but in honesty most of seems pointless. Like boy racers fitting their cars with tumble dryers, it’s not what I want from my experience. However convenient it is to have dry, warm clothes on the go.

    5 years ago I never bought my PS3 thinking “I’ll bet this has a cracking video editor on it!” and quite frankly, I’m glad I never because let’s face it, whenever a “revolutionary” idea is implemented it falls short of usability. Never mind expectations.

    Sony couldn’t find it’s own arse with both hands when it comes to other media and if it did the first hand would make it 18 months before the second.

    I’d like a very powerful PC with ‘Playstation 4’ emblazoned across the surface, uncapped connectivity fun between users and the return of some cracking titles like Onimusha, Final Fantasy (a good one), Loaded and you know what? maybe even a game with that annoying Orange, Australian, gimp Crash Bandicoot (whatever works eh?). There’s already promise with a new Tomb Raider, Twisted Metal and of course SSX, I just hope they keep it up.
    I already have a TV, a Phone and a laptop for everything else just give me the games! :D

  7. I hope the PS4 sticks with the ‘traditional console and controller setup’, not into all the motion control stuff.

  8. Those last few paragraphs are bang on. 1080p @ 60fps without breaking a sweat. Enough RAM for x-game chat, faster blu-ray drive. And buttons to press…. Gentlemen, I give you PS3.5

    • Lol yeah it’s everything the PS3 *should* have been :P

  9. I suppose I’m a little from both columns on this one. On the one hand I definitely agree a console should play games and nothing else. I Players, Blu-ray players, web browsers, Netflix, its all crap and don’t belong on a gaming console. I buy a console to play games and nothing else. Maybe if they skipped all the extra rubbish it would keep the hardware costs down.
    That said I have to give Nintendo a pat on the back for constantly pushing the boundaries with new technology, rather than constantly opting for the traditional controller approach. That side of the market has been completely exhausted and if I ever see another military “we’re Oscar mike, we’re Oscar mike” testosterone-fuelled shooter again it will be too soon. I’m personally really looking forward to the Wii-U and am thoroughly enjoying my 3DS at the moment, largely because they offer (or look set to offer in the case of the Wii U) a different gaming experience than I’m used to :)

  10. Best article I’ve read in a very long time, maybe ever. I fully agree with all of it. And I’m very happy that I’m not an xbox gamer. I would have gone mad long ago…

    I always said: “make games for gamers”, but maybe I should change it to: “make consoles for gamers” (I feel like I should write “lol” here, but it’s actually quite sad…)

    • I might be wrong but didn’t PlayStation bring in non gaming stuff before xbox?

      • Not sure what you’re thinking about, but my games aren’t buried beneath endless layers of ads and apps that i don’t care about.

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