Welcome to the Eighth Generation of Video Games

Everything we as a public know about the next generation of consoles.

By Andrew, Posted 26 Apr 2011

Eighth, Console, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, 3DS

The following editorial contains un-confirmed rumors, speculation, and release dates. This editorial also contains personal opinions that do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of NoobFeed.com or its staff. This editorial will piece together the information we know so far, and give you a rough estimate of what you can expect next in the world of video games. Some material may be hard for non-tech savvy people to understand, but I’ll try my best to simply the main points.

Since the last generation of video game consoles were released, people have been speculating about when the next generation of video game consoles would come about. Sometimes companies give us subtle hints at when we can expect them, but not very often. Today I will present to you everything we as a public know about the next generation of consoles, from confirmed facts all the way to un-confirmed rumors and speculation. Let’s go.

PART 1: The Basics

The truth is, the hardware inside today’s consoles is slowly but surely becoming out-dated. It’s amazing to think that it’s been 6 years since the Xbox 360 launched in 2005 and 5 years since the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii launched in 2006. Where has the time gone? Basically, this means that it’s getting harder and harder to develop bigger and better games for the systems because most of them (if not all of them) have already been pushed to their limits.

In the past, it has been easy to predict when the next consoles would be coming because companies used to release them on regular intervals. This generation however, that is not the case and the current gen consoles just keep on going. This is because companies keep finding ways to add on to the consoles and make them better, without releasing a whole new system. A few good examples of this are Microsoft releasing Kinect, Nintendo adding Wii Motion Plus and eventually Wii Remote Plus, and Sony adding Playstation Move, Playstation Home, and the likes. Since new features and content are being added to the systems all the time, there is no need for the release of a new console. Many gamers are still enjoying their current consoles and still have a lot of games they want to play yet, so they see no real reason to upgrade either. However, everything eventually needs an upgrade because in time developers will hit the system’s limit of ability, and a new system will be needed.

Little do people know it but the 8th generation of video gaming has already begun (hence the title of this editorial). You’re probably thinking, “What does he mean, the 8th generation of video gaming has already begun!?”. Well, the Nintendo 3DS (released in March 2011) is actually the first 8th gen system. The reason being is that the 3DS is seen as more of a revolution to the DS line of handhelds, and so is the start of a new generation.

Eighth, Console, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, 3DS

Above: A picture of a black Nintendo 3DS with included stylus.

Since the 3DS has already been released and we know all of the details about it, I won’t be mentioning it much here because this editorial is focused solely on the upcoming and unreleased systems. Let’s take a look at what the “big 3” have in store for us this gen.

PART 2: Future Shock

MICROSOFT:

Microsoft has said that they plan to support their Xbox 360 platform through at least 2015. By 2015, the 360 would be 10 years old. Because of that fact, it seems far more likely to me that this means that Microsoft could release a new version of their console BEFORE 2015, while continuing the support and publish games for the 360 until 2015. Another thing that many people have noticed is that the semi-recently released Kinect motion control accessory for the Xbox 360 isn’t as accurate as shown in some of the Project Natal demos. For example, the camera is SD, not HD, and doesn’t have the advanced skeletal tracking that was previously shown. To be more specific, the Kinect sensor cannot recognize fingers like previously thought. This leads some people to believe that the Kinect is nothing but a “glorified tech demo” and is a preview of what is to come next generation. Others believe that the Xbox 360 is holding back the Kinect sensor. Either way, many gamers believe that Microsoft is making an improved Kinect sensor with much better tracking and added functionality that could included with their next Xbox system.

In March 2011, Microsoft posted three job listings on LinkedIn. What made these job listings special, however, was the fact that they not only were for the Xbox division, but that two out of the three jobs were listed as VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) jobs. I think just about everyone reading this can piece together what that means.

Shortly after, a “confidential” picture of part of a possible design of the “next Xbox” began to spread around the internet, via the portfolio of artist Ben Peterson. Apparently, Mr. Peterson was working “in collaboration with Microsoft’s IEB design group investigating future user experiences and hardware for 2015.” Hear that, “for 2015”. That seems to match with Microsoft’s previous statement to support their Xbox 360 platform through at least 2015, eh? It is still being debated whether this was real or fake, but either way it’s an interesting find.

In late March 2011, Microsoft announced a new Xbox Update Preview Program, in which a select group of gamers could test out an “updated Xbox 360 disc format”. Gamers who got into the preview program also received a few copy of the game Halo: Reach, and Engadget.com explains the reason behind including the free game because you “can't really test a new disc format without some new discs now, can you?”. Shortly after, gaming blog Eurogamer reported that they had a source that said that the new disc format adds 1GB of storage to the Xbox 360 discs. The site also points out that this is plausible because the current disc has a size of 6.8GB, which means there is still room to spare on the disc (a standard dual-layer DVD).

SONY:

PS4:

Not a whole lot is known about Sony’s next console, except that it definitely is in development and that it probably will be called the PS4. There really haven’t been any crazy leaks or rumors floating around the internet lately like we’ve seen recently with Microsoft and Nintendo. However Sony, like Microsoft, has said that they plan to stick to a 10 year lifespan. So you can probably expect the PS4 to show up around the same time the next Xbox comes around.

Eighth, Console, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, 3DS

Above: A picture of the NGP, showing the Uncharted game for the system.

NGP (Next PSP):

Some gamers tend to forget nowadays that Sony has a handheld too, the PlayStation Portable (PSP), which to be honest hasn’t been doing the best lately. But Sony hopes to fix that, because in January 2011 Sony announced that they were working on the successor to the PSP, codenamed “NGP” (Next Generation Portable).

The NGP (pictured above) looks the same as the current PSP, except for a few changes. Sony confirmed that the specs for the new handheld would include a quad-core processor, 5 inch OLED capacitive touchscreen, TWO analog sticks, a rear touchpad, front and rear facing cameras, stereo speakers, microphone, Sixaxis motion sensing system (including a gyroscope and accelerometer), electric compass, built-in GPS, Wi-Fi, 3G, and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR connections.

There will be two versions of the NGP, one with 3G and a cheaper model without 3G.

Sony has said that they are aiming for a Q4 2011 release for the NGP.

NINTENDO:

Nintendo’s Wii console introduced us to motion controlled gaming, and now people are wondering what they will make next. Not much was known about Nintendo’s next home console until just recently, when in April 2011 a slew of rumors hit the net.

First off, it’s apparently codenamed “Project Café” and developers have reportedly had dev units for months. Secondly, the system features motion control (apparently with capabilities better than PlayStation Move) with a controller that is rumored to include a 6 inch touch screen (possibly HD) and front-facing camera that can also double as a Wii Remote sensor bar. Reports suggest that players will be able to stream game content to the controller screen from the console, but it is unknown if the content is full fledged games or just minigames/apps (or both). Hardware wise, the system is said to include a multi-core IBM PowerPC CPU, an ATI R700 series GPU (the R500 series is used in the Xbox 360), and at least 512MB of RAM. The system apparently capable of running games in HD, and has even been rumored to be significantly more powerful than the current gen systems. The system is said to be backwards compatible with Wii software. Wrapping up the rumors, it is said that “Project Café” will be unveiled at E3 2011 in June and will release in late 2012, and finally will NOT bear the Wii name.

Eighth, Console, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, 3DS

Above: IGN.com’s mockup of the “Project Café” controller.

If it's any indication, the price of the Nintendo Wii console dropped to $169.99 in mid-April 2011.

PART 3: What The Gamers Say

Enough about all of the rumors and details, what do the GAMERS think of this situation?

I asked 10 of them this question:

Q: If a new video game console (a new Xbox or the PS4, for example) came out tomorrow, would you run and get it ASAP or would you wait and continue to play your current console until you can afford the newer one or until you've gotten the most out of the current console before you upgrade?"

The point of this is to see how many people would get the new console right away or stick with their old one and wait it out until the new one is established more.

Here are the responses I received:

 “Good question, Andrew. Personally I would wait, unless it had something pretty major that attracted my attention, ie. launch titles or new features. I waited about 2 or 3 years before making the leap to buy the 360, and the only reason I did was because of the launch of Fable 2 (for example, as per my response above).“ -caityful

“Sorry, but with the cost of these machines and even the cost of the games now days it's hard to want to run out and buy a new system. I understand that society determines, via popular demand or public outcry, wanting something new but they are just to darn expensive.” -PR

“I will wait till some good amount of games come out for the new console. But if there's any special sale discount, I might take it.” -Amaya

“I'll have to wait anyway. I never get to buy new things. Because first I need to save money for it xD” -Sleven

“Wait with the console u have before you get a new one but do save up for a new one. Don't wait until its totally outdated because then it will get boring. I say wait about 2 months to get the new one. Just in case it has problems.” –KK

“I would wait until the price dropped some and the game had worked out any kinks it had. I don't see the point in spending $600 on a new xbox to have it have flaws and then they release a modified version without the kinks then you have to buy that it's a little overkill. I'd rather wait until they stop making games completely for the old system.” –BC

“I would definitely check it out first you know (specs, cost, ect.) If it was worth it I would want to get it right away but would prolly have to wait and save money first.” –TT

“I would do some research on it, then I think just keep playing on my current console until the price lowered until it's affordable. I don't like upgrading unless it's for a game that can only run on that new console.  I think I would wait until they completely stop making games for the one I'm playing on.” –MH

“Most parents would probably rather have you play the old one (especially if they’re paying for it)” –TT

“I will wait and play my n64 until a virtual reality system comes out that is on par with the Holodeck in star trek. MARIOKART RULES! The "holdouts"... staunch supporters of ancient, supposedly outdated systems who will forever and always play them” –AS

All of the responses differ a little bit, but for the most part you can extract a general opinion from them. From these responses, it seems to me that *most* gamers would not get the new console right away, and would instead continue playing their current console(s) until the new one has it’s problems worked out and/or is cheaper. While waiting however, it seems like most gamers would save money toward the new one so when the time to upgrade comes, they can afford the new console. Some of you probably could have guessed this response already, but it’s just nice to know people’s opinions.

PART 4: My Take

Note: This section is my personal opinions, and your opinion may vary.

In the end, what console will I end up buying? That depends on a few things. In order for a console to catch my attention, it needs to have specific features that I’m sure many gamers will agree with me on. 

If Microsoft wants to convert me from my PS3, then they need to drop the proprietary hard drives and go the way Sony has (let users use pretty much any regular hard drive in the system). They also need to incorporate larger disc sizes (already starting with the new disc beta testing, thanks Microsoft). A little bit of extra R&D toward avoiding issues like the RROD would be nice on their next console too. Oh, and get rid of Microsoft Points and start using real money please. Thanks.

With the Wii, Nintendo has AMAZING first party game support. However, their third party game support is really lacking, and that in my opinion is hurting their system considerably. In their next console, Nintendo needs to build their third party support, add HD, and make online more accessible (because we all know that friend codes are getting old) in order for their system to be successful.

For Sony to keep me a fan, they need to do a few things too. Improve the internet browser, because even though I don’t use it a ton, frankly it’s a pain in the ass to use. I’ve never really liked the XMB that much, so in my opinion I think they should scrap it and try something completely new for the menu system. I don’t know what, but I’m sure they can come up with something cool. Also, one thing many PS3 owners gripe about is the fact that they can’t save games to their hard drive. One reason for this is that the games are so big that you’d only be able to save about 3 or 4 to a 160GB hard drive. Sure, you could upgrade your drive to say 1 or 2 TBs, but still.

Another thing ALL of the companies need to do is improve their console specs considerably. Crytek, the developer behind the Crysis series, agrees with me and has said that they would like to see 8GBs of RAM (which is 2x the amount of RAM that most consumer computers have in them today) in future consoles. Of course the reason for wanting this upgrade is simple: technical requirements. The current consoles have just about (if not already) hit their limit of technically ability and so the new systems will have to be beefed up with better components if they want to be able to handle the next-gen games. Otherwise, they won’t be able to run them.

But obviously that’s just my take on things and your opinion may be different.

Part 5: Conclusion

For many gamers, this is all pretty crazy. Many are worried because some of them just bought a new console within the last year, and are wondering if it’s just going to be useless now after the new ones come out. That’s not the case, however. I just bought my first PS3 three weeks ago, and I did so because Sony has title upon title of exclusives lined up for the year ahead and I don’t see any sign of it slowing down anytime soon. Look at the PS2, it’s STILL going strong 5 years after the release of the PS3. This ties in with a point I made at the beginning of this editorial too, both Microsoft and Sony say they plan to support their consoles until about 2015 (going by the 10 year plan they’ve talked about) so for all of you gamers who are just jumping in, you have a lot of time yet before your console is considered “old news”. That’s not to say that newer and better consoles won’t come out before then, but support and community for the current consoles doesn’t have any signs of stopping any time soon. New consoles ARE coming though, and I’m just here to tell you about them. So either way you look at it, the 8th generation of video games is starting, and I’d just like to say in advance, welcome.

Update 4/20/11: According to an article posted today on the gaming blog Kotaku.com, Microsoft and Sony are apparently sending messages back and forth to each other saying that they’re delaying the launch of their new consoles until 2014. Doing this would apparently allow for the companies to “milk the current generation” and “fill in previous craters better”. Kotaku reportedly gets this information from several anonymous sources that have access to first party companies. The sources also stated that 2013 isn’t completely ruled out, but would probably only be a possibility if the companies feel rushed. The sources say that this makes particular sense for Sony, because the PS3 had a slow launch and the system still has a lot in it yet. The report also says that the North American economy is partly to blame for the delay, because the companies (Microsoft/Sony) can’t afford to launch a new machine at a price point of $600 (that nobody would buy) and if they improve the technology inside the machines it might have to be that much. However, waiting until 2014 could allow them to pack the same improved tech inside and sell it at $400 instead. It makes sense. No new updates from Nintendo in this article, but it’s looking like Nintendo’s new console, if it launches in 2012 like previously rumored, will launch without any new competition.

Update 4/25/11: Today Nintendo has OFFICIALLY confirmed that a Wii successor is real and is coming next year (2012). Nintendo also said that a playable model of the new system will be shown at E3 2011 in Los Angeles on June 7th.

This editorial was written between the months of March and April 2011, and the information in this editorial is subject to change.

Andrew Kalies, NoobFeed

comments powered by Disqus

  • phew, much better... but did you have to delete the old one rather than editing it? now that big post i wrote yesterday is gone :(


    Posted Apr 26, 2011

  • BrunoBRS - Sorry about your post man, the code was a mess and I figured it would just be easier to restart.


    Posted Apr 27, 2011

  • Very very nice editorial. My intake on all this is that i really am looking for to E3 this year SPECIALLY because of the next gen of consoles. However, at the same time i really am not looking forward to it because i know that the price ranges that these guys are going to start throwing left and right are going to be horrific. Nintendo is the most consumer friendly company when it comes to pricing their systems (3DS was a bit high for a handheld in my opinion) But even they will sooner or later start putting up high prices one way or another. Sony and Microsoft in my opinion really dont care as much as they should for their consumers. I know that the technology implemented in the systems is great and all but cost for making them can in no way be that high. But i digress.



     



    I am no fanboy of any of the systems, but the one i am least looking forward to is the PS4. Why? because the PS3 is such a damned great and killer system, that i really cannot imagine anything that i would consider a "ubber super fantastilistic" improvement on that system. Xbox on the other hand, really needs to up their storage, sure they cant use Blu-ray because of Sony but that doesnt mean they cant update their format or even their data compresion methods. Upping 1 gig on their disks really doesnt do as much as it should for them. They also need to up their functionality and give the users more freedom over their systems. Its amazing how more xboxs are hacked in comparison to ps3's and yet the xbox is the one with the least reason to be hacked (Waste of time to hack either system to begin with in my opinion). If Microsft would, as you stated, let you use any HDD for the xbox and even improve on the Dashboard. I feel they could so much more with the Dashboard to the point that they can let the user customize what they want on their dashboard and what not.



     



    NGP, i dont have my hopes up on the part of a reasonable price. i speculate 350+. Nintendo? i dont have to worry about them. They always come up with nifty out of the box ideas that lack in hardware power but more than compensate in functionality and fun factor which in my eyes are their best quality and what games should be.


    Posted Apr 27, 2011

  • Dramus - Glad you liked it! :) I agree with you mostly except I don't think E3 2011 will be focused that much on next gen consoles (except Project Cafe that is), otherwise I predict that E3 2012 or E3 2013 would be more likely for that kind of stuff if Sony and Microsoft are reportedly aiming for a 2014 launch.


    Posted Apr 27, 2011

  • Absolutely brilliant editorial, Andrew!

    Definitely made me think. I took for granted that the xbox 360 is nearing it's 10th birthday in a few years, which means it may very well be made redundant soon enough... A scary prospect - but now you have me saving my money! :P



    Great read, friend. Well done :)


    Posted Apr 28, 2011

  • Thanks Caityful, glad you liked it. I agree about the money too, I'm scrambling to find a job so I can have enough for these once they come out. :)


    Posted Apr 28, 2011

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