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Generation When? Where is the next round of consoles?
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Wed, 17 Jun 2009 13:43:05
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Generation When?

http://www.edge-online.com/magazine/generation-when

Extracts:

Since the NES, every five years or so a distinct new wave of technology has washed across the industry, bringing with it new power and functions to a market galvanised by the promise of faster, better, more. Change was once always tantalisingly close.

The current console cycle, which began with Xbox 360 in 2005, shows little sign of ending.

Wedbush Morgan Securities’ Michael Pachter, bluntly refutes that, stating in a recent investor guidance email newsletter: “We do not expect the ‘next’ generation to begin before 2013, if at all.”

Not that it really matters what you think. As Pachter says: “The public has zero power in this.” In a landscape in which Nintendo did the unthinkable with Wii and found new audiences for videogames with console technology that didn’t even exceed the capacity of the most powerful example of the previous generation, enthusiast gamers are too small a proportion of a newly burgeoning videogame market to count.

Or, conversely, they have a lot to lose by introducing one. The need for each manufacturer to reap profit from the current generation is paramount. Sony’s financial reports in June 2008 put losses incurred by PS3 at over $3 billion and, overall, SCE is still losing money, even if it’s a little less every quarter ($612.4 million in the financial year that ended March 2009) Microsoft, meanwhile, may have finally brought Xbox’s division, Entertainment and Devices, to profitability in 2007, having lost some $4 billion producing the original Xbox, but today’s financial figures don’t include the estimated $1-billion-plus three-year warranty programme the company initiated as a result of Xbox 360’s ‘red ring of death’ and E74 error problems.

It’s important to note that Nintendo’s position is very different to that of Sony and Microsoft. Cash-rich and powerful with publishers, Nintendo can afford to build a new console. But Pachter is adamant that ‘Wii HD’ will only match the power of PS3 and 360. “They always had the plan to get some traction with Wii and then bring out Wii HD. I don’t know if it’s end 2010 or a year later, but it’s coming,” he tells us. Wii HD would be a canny business move.

Publishers and developers are increasingly comfortable releasing games for current-generation technology, having reduced costs and streamlined production processes. And with Nintendo able to build a system that’s straightforward for developers to port their 360 and PS3 games from, and to, it would be an easy sell to ensure that principal game licences like FIFA, Tiger Woods, Call Of Duty, Guitar Hero and GTA appear on it from its earliest days on sale.

Such a console can only delay any wishes from game-makers to move to a new generation. Publishers have put massive investments into producing games for today’s hardware, and the prospect of ramping up production for a new generation, and the starting-from-scratch installed base that would entail – cannot be attractive.

All the while, however, the idea of consoles as they currently exist is being eroded. It might be difficult to imagine forthcoming streaming game services like OnLive, David Perry’s Gaikai and AMD’s Otoy project practically implemented on existing broadband infrastructure, but their potential can’t be ignored

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Wed, 17 Jun 2009 15:27:59
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Not anytime soon. With Microsoft gaming division barely into the profitability realms and Sony still in the red, it only makes sense for both of them to lenghten this hardware cycle as long as possible. At least a good 2 or 3 years before we see anything new on upcoming hardware.

With Nintendo things could be a bit more hectic, because their buoyant finances and solid business structure allow them to follow a more orthodox approach, from a HW cycle standpoint. However, the fact that they struck gold with the Wii and the way they seem to be polishing their motion control technology without significant hardware changes, leaves them ample room to go on with this generation as long as they see fit. Or at least as long as their finances allow them. For the time being, if Wiis keep selling, even without ANY price cut almost 3 years after launch, there is no need for them to move on. It makes no sense either.

Neither MS nor Sony seem eager to enter the next chapter in a battle that has left their gaming divisions exhausted and bleeding money. Considering they made an effort to achieve a considerable leap in the visual field, they absolutely NEED to go on with this HW cycle. Recent motion control tech announcements for both platforms show that they understand that without the casual market (goddamn, I hate that term), they have no chance to achieve financial success.


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Wed, 17 Jun 2009 17:55:47
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Right now there's not a hurry for it as Sony is hugely in the red and needs this generation to last longer than any other has.  MS is doing okay, and has probably been in the black for over a year, but would likely prefer to extend this gen for a while longer too.  The only company in a position to go to the next gen right now is Nintendo, and I've always felt that since they launched the SNES they've always purposely tried to hold off launching new hardware, prefering to refine it if anything.  

However, I think the next generation could occur much quicker than anyone suspects. Several developers have already said that the 360 has been maxed out.  And with a few exceptions Wii games have looked dated almost since the console launched.  If Nintendo jumped and announced a new console, MS would be right there alongside them.  Sony would end up in a no win situation at that point.  It wouldn't be feasible for them to launch something new, but at the same time they'd quickly end up with "old hardware" tag in just a year or two after the new gen launched.  If Nintendo and MS wanted to put a hurt on Sony I could see this happening.

But realistically Nintendo has no other motive to do so.  They're making more money than anyone in this industry has ever seen.  And they've had an unreal ability to sell add-ons and periphreals for the Wii at an unprecedented level.  Balance boards, Steering Wheels, classic controllers, etc.  If they package it with the right app NIntendo could very easily bundle a new piece of hardware to expand the Wii's capability to help it match up with the HD consoles.  They've even done it before with the N64 and Majora's Mask and DK64.  

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Wed, 17 Jun 2009 18:29:55
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You guys have said pretty much everything there is to say.

It's such a bizaare situation for two reasons. Firstly cost. Development budgets are already huge, everyone took years to finally be comfortable with existing technology. Developers dont want to have to relearn things every 5 years.

Platform holders like MS and Sony invested billions and need to acheive consistent and prolonged profitability. Nintendo on the other hand can do a next gen console easily, but they have no reason to do so. They dont want to kill the golden goose.

So you're in this weird situation where everyone is looking at everyone else, keeping this strange status quo. "If you don't jump, I wont either"

And everyone wants it that way. Usually you want to get a jump on the competition, like how the original Xbox only lasted 4 years.

Nintendo could do a Wii HD which brings up the tech to 360 levels, which IMO would be a knockout blow in software terms as suddenly titles could exist multiplatform and there would be no more excuses not to get versions of games on the most popular platform. But then that assumes that existing wii HD would be the most popular platform and that owners want to upgrade. Bizaare.

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Wed, 17 Jun 2009 18:59:46
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As far as I'm concerned, the longer this generation lasts the better.

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Wed, 17 Jun 2009 19:09:20
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Do you think that Wii has changed things? Shown that cylical power upgrades aren't the only way to do things? Shown that you can come up with what some people call innovations, others call gimmicks to put a spin on gaming?

Shown that you can repackage old technology and not have to break the bank on more powerful consoles?

Shown that the mass market doesn't neccesarily want the beefiest machine. Has the war of hardware ended and the war on other stuff begun?

3-D Stereoscopic gaming? Full body motion? Haptic feedback? VR gaming? Headsets?

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Wed, 17 Jun 2009 19:30:48
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The Wii has changed things forever in the console cycles. I'm not sure if both MS and Sony would have realized by themselves at some point that their escalating race with mammoth budgets and somewhat cutting-edge tech (for console standards, that is) would have left both gaming divisions fatally wounded. The Wii acted as a catalyst for this. Maybe at the beginning of the generation there was a possibility that either MS (more likely) or Sony (less likely) would have jumped the gun unveiling a new hardware upgrade, but once they both saw what Nintendo was doing with a fraction of their horsepower and a good dosage of thinking outside the box, they understood it was time to settle down a bit and try to work with what they currently have, in order to offer a more complete package for both their current fanbase, as well as their targeted demographic.

I don't know at which point could Nintendo aim for a WiiHD system like everyone seems to be expecting them recently, not without severely compromising their uncomplicated approach to technology. The jump in visuals to HD (even pseudo HD resolutions) is, without any shadow of a doubt, the most taxing and stressing feature on a system like a game console. Even if tech improved to a point where it would make sense for Nintendo to do so, this would mean game developing budgets ramping up to PS360 levels, which would scare third party dev/publishers which only recently are slowly warming up to a system where usually only 1st parties get the share of the lion regarding software sales. Diminishing returns and all that stuff.

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Wed, 17 Jun 2009 19:35:00
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Our podcast touched on this, we are so ahead of the game industry. Nyaa
gamingeek said:

Do you think that Wii has changed things? Shown that cylical power upgrades aren't the only way to do things? Shown that you can come up with what some people call innovations, others call gimmicks to put a spin on gaming?

Shown that you can repackage old technology and not have to break the bank on more powerful consoles?

Shown that the mass market doesn't neccesarily want the beefiest machine. Has the war of hardware ended and the war on other stuff begun?

3-D Stereoscopic gaming? Full body motion? Haptic feedback? VR gaming? Headsets?

Absolutely, the wii has changed everything.  The graphical arms race is not put on hold because of it, I dont think next gen will see such a jump, I dont think the 5 year cycle will be the norm anymore. I think it game companies will like this cause their cost of making games will not rise so quickly. It helps us as we wont get anymore stupid $600 systems. Nintendo maybe saved the industry before it got to a point of being only for the most hardcore gamers that have tons of money to spend on super high tech consoles.

Plus gaming wasnt really going anywhere, 3D gaming was the last big change. Graphical upgrades can only take us so far before we have played every type of game. The motion control is going to be part of our future, our future wont always be the same controller we are used to, its going to have all new creative ways to interact with our games.

As for showing that you can repackage old tech and sell it, they showed you can do it but I dont like it. Game systems should advance as time goes on, it doesnt need to be so advanced that its too expensive for the average person but it does not need to be old tech.

The PS2 showed that the mass market doesn't want the beefiest machine. But the Wii broke the mold in that normally the console with the best games wins, not so much this time and I feel it was a mix of the cheap price and the wiimote that did so. No I dont feel that the hardware race is over, we will still advance, but at a slower pace and be very focused on new ways to play.

The future I believe will combine aspects of Natal with the wiimote, nothing stupid like a VR helmet or power gloves. I feel like we will always have a type of controller around, I feel it will be combined with othe methods of input as well.

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Wed, 17 Jun 2009 19:37:11
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I think conversely 3rd parties would be super happy with Wii HD in that they could release a game across 4 platforms instead of 3 and making some custom title that may fail or not.

But I think Nintendo would have a hard slog convincing the casual consumer to upgrade.

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Wed, 17 Jun 2009 19:41:49

gamingeek said:

I think conversely 3rd parties would be super happy with Wii HD in that they could release a game across 4 platforms instead of 3 and making some custom title that may fail or not.

But I think Nintendo would have a hard slog convincing the casual consumer to upgrade.

Well they had me convinced, but at this point its almost too late. Might as well wait a few years and make something slightly better than we have now but I assume not as good as what we will get from the other consoles.

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Wed, 17 Jun 2009 19:44:02

I'm quite excited with things like Natal, showing that gaming can move forward in ways other than just graphics. I think that the whole side step of touch screen, mics and motion has opened a whole can of worms for people just thinking about technology in a different way.

I would love to see things like stereoscopic 3-D or real haptic feedback. Or even stupid stuff like smell sensors. Or even headsets. I just want to see how far they can push things.

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Wed, 17 Jun 2009 19:45:05

gamingeek said:

I think conversely 3rd parties would be super happy with Wii HD in that they could release a game across 4 platforms instead of 3 and making some custom title that may fail or not.

But I think Nintendo would have a hard slog convincing the casual consumer to upgrade.

Yeah, at that point wiiHD would be effectively a new console. How do you make 50+ million people to buy another (arguably more expensive) console? While trying to retain Wii's identity? A hardware upgrade in itself. It would be suicide. Very confusing for the general public.

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Wed, 17 Jun 2009 19:46:07
We are entering the peripheral era of gaming.
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Wed, 17 Jun 2009 19:50:04

Dvader said:

gamingeek said:

I think conversely 3rd parties would be super happy with Wii HD in that they could release a game across 4 platforms instead of 3 and making some custom title that may fail or not.

But I think Nintendo would have a hard slog convincing the casual consumer to upgrade.

Well they had me convinced, but at this point its almost too late. Might as well wait a few years and make something slightly better than we have now but I assume not as good as what we will get from the other consoles.

How many years can they wait? PS3 is really built to last with a large HD and Blu Ray and 7 core processor and what not and they can then add things like motion controllers to extend the life.

360 has a similar weaponset to draw upon. For Wii to last as long as the other consoles, without popularity fading or it feeling dreadfully outdated, it needs more expensive solutions.

Firstly they could do things like packing in motionplus as standard. Natal will be standard next spring, so Nintendo need to respond. Now they've unlocked High capacity SD cards, why not take the opportunity to get a manurfacturing deal for cheap cards and start packing in a 16g SD card with every system too?

But technologically its cheaper and easier to add in a motion controller than it is to add in new technology to make the graphics better. That would need to be a new system.

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Wed, 17 Jun 2009 19:58:47

SteelAttack said:

gamingeek said:

I think conversely 3rd parties would be super happy with Wii HD in that they could release a game across 4 platforms instead of 3 and making some custom title that may fail or not.

But I think Nintendo would have a hard slog convincing the casual consumer to upgrade.

Yeah, at that point wiiHD would be effectively a new console. How do you make 50+ million people to buy another (arguably more expensive) console? While trying to retain Wii's identity? A hardware upgrade in itself. It would be suicide. Very confusing for the general public.

What if they made it like Apple tech? Incremental versions of existing tech. 360 has been selling for a lower price then Wii for a long time now. Surely nintendo could produce a machine with similar power at, at least the same price Wii currently is?

Call it Wii Too. Mark the new games as Wii Too only. Have it backwards compatible of course.

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Wed, 17 Jun 2009 20:17:23

gamingeek said:

What if they made it like Apple tech? Incremental versions of existing tech. 360 has been selling for a lower price then Wii for a long time now. Surely nintendo could produce a machine with similar power at, at least the same price Wii currently is?

Call it Wii Too. Mark the new games as Wii Too only. Have it backwards compatible of course.

Wii Too? LOL

I bet Nintendo could produce something like that, but then they would have to deal with rising developer costs. 360 is selling at 200 now because the arcade lacks a HDD and WiFi, and Wii is still at 250 because people keep buying it at 250, and because Nintendo knows they can get away with that.

I don't know if Nintendo could come up with a visual upgrade equal to the 360 without altering significantly Wii's manufacturing process, manufacturing costs and developing costs. In this sense, as far as gaming platforms go, PC's modular nature allows for a more flexible approach than consoles, which need to get by throughout the entire hardware cycle with whatever tech they can cram in there from the beginning.

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Wed, 17 Jun 2009 20:20:29

gamingeek said:

SteelAttack said:

gamingeek said:

I think conversely 3rd parties would be super happy with Wii HD in that they could release a game across 4 platforms instead of 3 and making some custom title that may fail or not.

But I think Nintendo would have a hard slog convincing the casual consumer to upgrade.

Yeah, at that point wiiHD would be effectively a new console. How do you make 50+ million people to buy another (arguably more expensive) console? While trying to retain Wii's identity? A hardware upgrade in itself. It would be suicide. Very confusing for the general public.

What if they made it like Apple tech? Incremental versions of existing tech. 360 has been selling for a lower price then Wii for a long time now. Surely nintendo could produce a machine with similar power at, at least the same price Wii currently is?

Call it Wii Too. Mark the new games as Wii Too only. Have it backwards compatible of course.

 All this new hardware would do is make the hardcore fans and third parties happy. Nintendo doesn't need either. Hardcore fans will bitch and moan about the lack of HD graphics, but ultimately, they'll still buy the next Zelda and/or Mario game, so why should Nintendo risk their marketshare by releasing a new console? The whole concept that more power = better games is flawed. Nintendo has proven that this gen. 

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Wed, 17 Jun 2009 20:24:34

SteelAttack said:

gamingeek said:

What if they made it like Apple tech? Incremental versions of existing tech. 360 has been selling for a lower price then Wii for a long time now. Surely nintendo could produce a machine with similar power at, at least the same price Wii currently is?

Call it Wii Too. Mark the new games as Wii Too only. Have it backwards compatible of course.

Wii Too? LOL

I bet Nintendo could produce something like that, but then they would have to deal with rising developer costs. 360 is selling at 200 now because the arcade lacks a HDD and WiFi, and Wii is still at 250 because people keep buying it at 250, and because Nintendo knows they can get away with that.

I don't know if Nintendo could come up with a visual upgrade equal to the 360 without altering significantly Wii's manufacturing process, manufacturing costs and developing costs. In this sense, as far as gaming platforms go, PC's modular nature allows for a more flexible approach than consoles, which need to get by throughout the entire hardware cycle with whatever tech they can cram in there from the beginning.

I knew the next console would be called Wii Too from the start. The Wii is suppossed to say "We" and the ii's are suppossed to be little people. Wii Too is the obvious name for the sequel Nyaa

Oh yeah the initial start up costs for making the machine would be large, but the actual manurfacturing price (per unit) could be managable as they tend to be very efficient and economical with their systems.

So anyway. Shane Kim says Natal is a relaunch of 360:

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/kim-natal-is-a-relaunch-of-xbox-360

Microsoft bigwig Shane Kim has stated that the release of Project Natal will be "the launch of Xbox 360", and that no new console hardware will be involved.

"Absolutely. It will be that big," he told Gamasutra. "Now, the good news is that it's not a new hardware architecture; we're not forcing customers to have to go buy a new console because it will work with every existing Xbox 360 out there.

"But in terms of its importance and scale of what we're talking about, yeah, absolutely, it will be like the launch of a new Xbox."

Kim, who was omnipresent at E3, said similar things all show, citing an Xbox 360 lifecycle through to 2015, and explaining that the motion-sensing technology (that has its own processing power) is as good as a new console anyway.

And not only will Natal be "revolutionary", but Kim believes it will transcend comparisons with Nintendo and Sony, as the real goal is "unlocking the potential of the industry": reaching the millions upon millions of people with no console at all.

His comments discredit - but do not disprove - speculation that Microsoft plans to launch a new Xbox 360 console next year. Microsoft's Aaron Greenberg played down rumours of a new machine, too - as did Eurogamer's Digital Foundry blog with technical panache.

Project Natal has no release date as yet.

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Wed, 17 Jun 2009 20:29:11

Ravenprose said:

gamingeek said:

SteelAttack said:

gamingeek said:

I think conversely 3rd parties would be super happy with Wii HD in that they could release a game across 4 platforms instead of 3 and making some custom title that may fail or not.

But I think Nintendo would have a hard slog convincing the casual consumer to upgrade.

Yeah, at that point wiiHD would be effectively a new console. How do you make 50+ million people to buy another (arguably more expensive) console? While trying to retain Wii's identity? A hardware upgrade in itself. It would be suicide. Very confusing for the general public.

What if they made it like Apple tech? Incremental versions of existing tech. 360 has been selling for a lower price then Wii for a long time now. Surely nintendo could produce a machine with similar power at, at least the same price Wii currently is?

Call it Wii Too. Mark the new games as Wii Too only. Have it backwards compatible of course.

All this new hardware would do is make the hardcore fans and third parties happy. Nintendo doesn't need either. Hardcore fans will bitch and moan about the lack of HD graphics, but ultimately, they'll still buy the next Zelda and/or Mario game, so why should Nintendo risk their marketshare by releasing a new console? The whole concept that more power = better games is flawed. Nintendo has proven that this gen.

To ingratiate themselves to 3rd parties. Also if the other guys are keeping to this 10 year lifecycle, I really don't think that Wii can make it that far. Let's say they stick to the 5 year lifecycle, we are coming up to the 3rd year of release only now in Winter this year. That means another two years of Wii before the next console launches in November 2011. So a 2010 reveal at E3 for the next console? Zelda to be a dual Wii/Wii Too title Nyaa

Sounds okay right? But what if there was nothing till 2016??? No, it wouldn't work.

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Wed, 17 Jun 2009 20:33:38

gamingeek said:

To ingratiate themselves to 3rd parties. Also if the other guys are keeping to this 10 year lifecycle, I really don't think that Wii can make it that far. Let's say they stick to the 5 year lifecycle, we are coming up to the 3rd year of release only now in Winter this year. That means another two years of Wii before the next console launches in November 2011. So a 2010 reveal at E3 for the next console? Zelda to be a dual Wii/Wii Too title Nyaa

Sounds okay right? But what if there was nothing till 2016??? No, it wouldn't work.

 I disagree. It might not work for the hardcore, but the casual audiance cares not for HD graphics. All Nintendo needs to do to keep the Wii going until 2016, is continue doing what it's been doing for the last three years: Make exciting new games and fun perpherials that everyone can play.

Edited: Wed, 17 Jun 2009 20:38:13

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