I had hoped to get this post out the same week as the one for PC gaming, but some things got in the way of that. One of those things was the Oculus Rift. Check it out its Kickstarter page, it looks to be virtual reality that the average gamer should be able to afford and there are a number of developers who are backing it. The other thing is the Ouya. A hackable (they encourage it) home console designed to be approachable by indie companies and hobbyists. I'll be doing a write up on Kickstarter programs in the near future as a result of these two products, not to mention the slew of games that have been funded because of it. But this article is about console gaming in general and the potential it has and the changes I foresee in my magic crystal ball (which may or may not be a Magic 8 Ball).
What I hope we'll see:
No more consoles! Not as we look at them currently, at least. Make them more like specialized computers designed for video games and entertainment. They're not far from this already after all. Imagine if each prebuilt PC, like one you might buy from HP, Dell, or Alienware, had certain games only it could play. Or worse, there were games you couldn't play on it. Let the Xbox, Playstation, and Wii all be different brands of gaming consoles. This would hopefully allow for a streamlined game development process, similar to PC-only software. This should also allow for all 'console' games to be available upon the PC. Prices should become more competitive as would specific features of each individual console instead of the 'You can only play these games on our console' cop-out. The industry would self-regulate what features and specifications are necessary, similar to how TVs and computers do now.
What I expect we'll see:
No change. Expect more 5 year cycles, the Playstation 4, the Xbox 720, the Nintendo WeeU, the whole shebang. Prices for consoles aren't likely to go down, starting high and then slowly drifting back down. Consoles will still flaunt exclusive titles, DLC, or features. Cross-platform play will continue to be a pipe-dream, though Valve gave me great hope with Portal 2 and the PS3. We may see the introduction of new consoles like the Ouya and Valve's rumored console, but I fear they'll be niche devices. However, consoles will become more like PCs with their required 'CD-keys' and first-sale DLC to combat used game trades and sales.
Maybe I'm just cynical about consoles, but all I can see is them inheriting the downsides of PC's but none of the nice perks. Consoles come out expensive and then drop in price as they get better. Look at the variety of PS3's if you want an example. But instead of it being a new video card that I can just buy and slot into my system, I have to buy a whole new console, buy a cable to transfer my HDD data, and potentially a new HDD. Complain all you want about PC DRM problems, but at least if Ubisoft's servers are down, I might be able to play Assassin's Creed, I can go play Battlefield 3. When PSN or Xbox Live goes down, you can't play anything online with a console.
Now, I should finish this off by saying a few positive things about consoles. I do quite love my PS3 and Xbox 360, they give me Netflix and YouTube on my TV and play Blu-Ray. I can pick up single-player games on a console, beat it and trade them in when I'm done. But if there's a multiplayer game or any shooter, I want my PC. Nothing beats the mouse and keyboard.
What do you guys think of upcoming consoles? What about consoles versus PC? Please, leave a comment. Also check out my YouTube channel, hoping to upload some more videos soon.