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What’s next for next-gen?

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The Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 are here to stay, software and hardware warts and all. Everyone can now take joy in not needing to say ‘next-gen’ and start saying ‘current-gen’ (and yes, I get the irony of the headline). But even now, we’ve got to look to the future, because this may be the last generation of the console.

On the quantity-of-games front, PC gaming is resolute, with more indie titles filling it than references to deceitful cake on a Portal forum. The term “PC Gaming Master Race” is being flung around the Internet to describe those with the disposable income to build their own top of the range ‘rig’ and keep it that way, with the Steam Machines being released to increase the portability of the PC gamer.

A Steam Machine.

On the other end of the spectrum, casual gaming on smartphones and tablets is on the rise, with AAA companies releasing tie-in games to link the casual gamer to the console like Fifa 14 by EA Sports and Batman: Arkham Origins. The Ouya is offering Android gaming on a movable, high-definition screen.

So with the high price bracket aiming for PCs, and the low going for the handheld, where does that leave the console?

In the past, this was simple: it was a middle ground. While handheld gaming in the times of the PlayStation 2 and original Xbox was limited, this was still clear to see.

The PC required some knowledge to set up the games, and was more for those that were interested in its mechanics. This was perfectly balanced by the console, which boasted speed and simplicity – disk in, game out. But now the install times of the XStation One match the PC, but unlike a PC, can’t be ‘Alt+Tabbed’ out of to go on the Internet or work.

With Assassin’s Creed 4 and The Wolf Among Us pushing for episodic gaming (and Half Life 3, in theory –all those prayers of gamers have to go somewhere) the priority for quick loading speeds and more compact games becomes paramount. This is especially true in light of 320GB-gate, the discovery that the Xbox One can’t hold the 500GB that it promised.

Could Mario make it to iOS devices?

The solution to this problem would be to focus on Cloud storage, but with the vulnerability of online gaming, as seen by the PlayStation Network being hacked, this seems unlikely.

My prediction? Despite the recent bad news about its poor sales, Nintendo will make more money than the GDP of Bulgaria releasing iMario, iPokémon and iZelda for everyone’s iDevices, as their focus isn’t on being the best, but on the reliability of being the ‘family console’.

Microsoft will make a console with the capabilities of a PC – one that allows the installation of Microsoft Office and access to games while others are installing. A console that you can work on.

Sony, on the other hand, will fuse with its other hardware and release PlayStation Television (PSTV has a nice ring to it), to rival the home-media omniscience the Xbox One is currently pushing for. Within ten, fifteen years, we may see the end of the Console Wars.

The next-gen is dead.

Long live next-gen.

 

Adam Smith (@webnym)

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