Note: I'm not trying to flame away, I'm not trying to bait anyone, and I'm not trying to play as a Microsoft/Sony/PC/Steambox/Whatever fanboy. These are just my observations from the announcement yesterday and thoughts in general on the current state of the console industry and where I see it going.
Color me unimpressed from what I've seen so far.
This generation of consoles isn't going to be much of a leap forward I'm afraid. Evolution more than revolution...and this is where the biggest problem is:
Average Joe consumer has very little reason to buy the PS4 from what has been shown so far. The hardcore gamers will buy consoles on launch day and for the first year or so, but typically hardware in the first few years is subsidized and the company (Sony) takes a loss on each console sold, hoping to recoup the costs later on with software sales. When sales to the hardcore peter out, Average Joe needs to step in and start buying, and right now, I just don't see the reason for a casual or non-gamer to pick up the console.
Are the visuals improved? Seems so, but I don't think a casual will be able to point out the differences between a PS3 and PS4 screenshot side by side. In fact, each successive generation of consoles seems to be making less and less of a leap forward in visual prowess. Current televisions are only maxing out at 1080p, so not much can be done on the resolution level, and while 4k televisions are now hitting the marketplace, the adoption rate is low...perhaps something for the next generation of consoles.
So the PS4 is touted as having all these social media aspects to it. It even has a 'share' button on the controller! So while this may endear itself to the facebook crowd, it doesn't seem like it would be a major selling point to the machine. Unless, of course, I'm completely underestimating the social media aspect (terribly likely since I'm about as anti-facebook as they come), there does not seem to be much value in purchasing a PS4 when one already has a PS3, or is faced with the option of purchasing a much cheaper PS3.
Of course, what it eventually all comes down to is the games. Will the PS4 have enough exclusives to make it a success? Seems like Sony does realize this is the driver and is attempting to bring on board the heavyweights of the industry, such as Bungie, Squeenix, and Blizzard. I'm still a bit skeptical since Diablo 3 wasn't the lofty game most were expecting it to be, Squeenix's best days are behind them, and Bungie is developing a new IP that may or may not be a success.
So what does this mean? It means I'm a Debbie Downer. I wasn't expecting anything crazy out of the PS4, and perhaps I'm letting that cloud what I've seen so far. I don't think the next Xbox is going to be much different. It means I'm a stuck up old bastard who thinks games were better 'back in the day' and 'get off my lawn'. So take it all with a grain of salt.
I will say though, the adoption rates are going to mean everything. I don't think you are going to see sales of the consoles reach as high as they did during this last generation of consoles (or even the one before that!), and I also think there is going to be a much, much shorter lifecycle on this generation. I think within just a few years, 4k televisions will be more widespread, the processing horsepower cost to run at 4k will be lower, and you'll see the next generation beyond this one sooner rather than later.
Problem is, Sony is in some dire financial straits right now, and their console division is helping to keep the company afloat. They need the PS4 to be a success. If it flops, it worries me as to whether there will be a PS5.
(the preceding rant and pseudo-intellectual analysis of the game industry and console lifecycle are made by a Schizophrenic who probably spends more time playing old consoles than current-gen machines and whose opinions are probably rubbish anyway)
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