Microsoft unveiled their latest iteration of the Xbox One console, the Xbox One X at their E3 2017 conference this past Sunday. Microsoft is making the bold statement that this is the most powerful console ever created, and from what we’ve witness, this can be true. It’ll be the smallest Xbox ever with a 6 teraflop GPU, a 1TB HDD storage, true 4k gaming, capable of running 4k UHD Blu-rays and, and, and…
Why didn’t they release this as the actual Xbox One years ago?
Sony and Nintendo are no different with their PS4 Pro and Switch respectively. This seriously begs the question, what is wrong with the modern generation of consoles and why does it feel like such a rush job when you look at it?
The big three companies, after the last generation of consoles (PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii) ended dived head first into embracing the next generation which was the Wii U, PS4 and Xbox One. However something was lost in the execution in taking this leap. They stumbled and tripped.
The first out of the gate was Nintendo’s Wii U, which was made to be the successor to the highest grossing Nintendo system, the Wii. Nintendo believed that just by keeping the Wii branding for their follow up system that they can bring in the casual gamers who started playing on the Wii onto the Wii U and also lure back the core gamers that left Nintendo due to a variety of reasons during the Wii era with a more core-based system.
However, Nintendo miscalculated this prediction badly.
A lot of the casual gamers only bought the Wii nearly a decade ago, due to the new novelty of motion controls and eventually that novelty faded away as they themselves moved on to the mobile market of iPhones and Android devices to get their quick gaming fix. On top of this Nintendo failed to properly market what exactly the Wii U was with ads and commercials and other means to casual gamers. Many thought that this was just an upgraded Wii and not a true successor console. The casual market didn’t appreciate a more hardcore based system, so instead Nintendo hoped that the core gamers would return due to a stronger library of better quality games made for the Wii U.
However that wasn’t the case either.
Many third party companies who promised great games at the start of the Wii U’s life ended up going back on their word releasing games later then expected or at half power then what was seen on the PS4 and Xbox One; or even ultimately scrapping said games for the Wii U entirely. This caused many core gamers to abandon the Wii U and move onto either the PS4 and Xbox One to satisfy their gaming needs. Nintendo was in a bind and frantically looked for ways to rectify this problem.
On the other side of the fences, both Microsoft and Sony, due to Nintendo’s premature release of the Wii U had to play catch up by quickly releasing the PS4 and Xbox One within a year or so after the Wii U’s release. While the concept of both the PS4 and Xbox One as consoles were sound, they both lacked the true next generation feel of what consoles should be. For example the graphical amazement of what it was like jumping from the Playstation 1 to the Playstation 2 or the Super NES to the N64. These next generation consoles lacked that extra kick to them both. It left many gamers scratching their heads over such oversights.
The many games released during those beginning years of the Xbox One and PS4, where also games that you can find for cheaper on the previous generation of consoles, the Xbox 360 and PS3. While not as graphically superior to their next generation counterparts, the older versions still had the same exact features minus a few next generation additions. So you weren’t really missing out on anything for those first few years.
During this time, while the PS4 and Xbox One was dominating sales the Wii U was losing steam in the market and having some of the worse console sales in Nintendo’s history when compared to how much of the Wii they sold prior to it. Nintendo went back to the drawing board and started working on what would eventually become the Switch, which in a way is a Wii U on steroids. It takes the concept of what made the Wii U great, the gamepad plus off TV play and took it all to eleven. Where now the players can actually physically take the system with them wherever they want in the world to game. And on top of that the graphical capabilities of the system is on par with what is seen on Xbox One and PS4.
Yet, this caused both Microsoft and Sony to panic and release super versions of their Xbox One and PS4 respectively. And effectively created a strange 1.5 console generation that’s between the last generation and whatever comes next. It’s like they almost pulled something out of Apple’s bag of tricks when it comes to releasing yearly updates to their products.
Last December Sony finally revealed their PS4 Pro at PSX — which in all honestly is just below the Xbox One X in spec and power — and of course Microsoft finally unveiled their trump card this past Sunday. And now the modern gaming generation is in this weird state of “are we in a new console generation already or something?”
As a console gamer, you buy consoles with the belief that the system you bought will last anywhere from five to ten years with constant support from the creators and you’ll have a peace of mind that it wouldn’t go out of date at all until those years are up. However because of what happened to the Wii U, Nintendo pulled the plug on the system less then five years in it’s life while the Wii itself had a solid six to eight years of life in it. And in a way, it feels like both Sony and Microsoft are doing the same thing between the owners who have the original PS4 and Xbox One and the ones who have the PS4 Pro and soon to be released Xbox One X.
It’s one thing to release different models of a system like the PS3 from the original fat to slim to super slim of the system. That is okay, because no one is alienated and the architecture of the system remains the same in all models. Yet with the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X, because it’s so much more advance and powerful compared to their original counterparts. It’s like your friend is Goku fighting Beerus as a Super Saiyan God while you are Piccolo or Krillan and unable to even help said friend, because of how weak you are compared to the two. You become obsolete in the grand scheme of things and are sidelined.
And this then begs the questions, shouldn’t the three companies have skipped releasing the Wii U, the original PS4 and Xbox One and instead just waited two to three more years perfecting what they had in development? Then when the time was right release the Switch, PS4 Pro and Xbox One X to the masses as the actual current generation of consoles?
I believe they should have, this way you would have had an even more solid trust between the consumers and companies in their products. People wouldn’t be afraid of taking a big leap into the next generation and worry about being obsolete in a few short years. The consumers wouldn’t be up in arms whenever a console update came either, because it would follow the minor revision template made by the PS3 mentioned a few paragraphs above instead of splitting the fan base like the PS4 and PS4 Pro or the Xbox One and Xbox One X has. And if you play competitive gaming, be it fighters or shooters, the slight edge that the PS4 Pro or Xbox One X has frame rate wise when playing can make a huge difference in a win or loss, making the original versions of these consoles horrible choices if you’re a die hard gamer.
As I see it right now, the modern generation of consoles is no different then how gaming was back in the 80’s. It was a confusing time, and not a lot of people knew the differences in what each system brought to the table. And due to all these “revisionist upgrades” those console companies made back then when it came to their consoles plus the addition of a certain alien who wanted to go home, we got the video game crash that spelled the end of gaming until Nintendo came to the scene and saved it with the NES.
If Sony, Microsoft and yes even Nintendo aren’t careful, they will lose and splinter even more of their customers if they get too greedy in making too many drastic console revisions and modifications. If they want to secure any good faith from their customers then they should tough it out and show that they are sticking to their guns — no matter how weak their system may be to others — until the bitter end. They each did it once before: Sony during the PS3 era, Nintendo during the N64 era and Microsoft during the original Xbox era. And by doing so, it was the stuff of legends.
Competition amongst the three companies is good, but it’s not good if they are constantly panicking and putting bandaids onto their systems every two to three years. Eventually you’ll run out of bandaids.
But what do I know, I just drink coffee and know things…
So now I turn to you reader, what are your thoughts on the Switch, PS4 Pro, Xbox One X and this rather strange console generation we fine ourselves in? Please feel free to leave your comments below.