What The Next PlayStation And Xbox Need To Get Right

Skittles or Steak? I hate to admit it, but I like both. For me, it is not a choice. Nothing quite works like a steak for dinner. But, when I go to the movies, and I want to indulge, it’s Skittles for me. It is a bit embarrassing to admit. For me, it’s Skittles and Steak. I like both. You must be wondering what this has to do with games. Or why Kotaku would run my piece on candy and beef. This will take a minute, but let me explain.

I can’t keep track of the number of people who have told me they don’t believe the new consoles, long rumoured to be coming from both Microsoft and Sony this fall, will succeed. I’ve heard this from some industry analysts. I’ve heard it from friends. I’ve even heard it from some pretty dedicated gamers.

When I press them, most everyone says they see games on smart phones and tablets taking over the game biz. They see the massive numbers of apps — mostly game apps — being downloaded onto iOS and Android devices and see the demise of console gaming as inevitable. They see the multi-year decline of console software at retail, as reported by NPD, and they think the console gaming is done. They see Apple’s PR machine touting the 50 billion apps downloaded, and they’re even more certain the battle is over and that the future is all about mobile. For them, consoles are over.

I can’t keep track of the number of people who have told me they don’t believe the new consoles... will succeed.

Mobile games are awesome. It is a rare day when I don’t play a game on my iPhone or my new Samsung Galaxy S4.

I play them everywhere. At home. In a taxi. On a plane. Sometimes when I am trying to get to a next level, I get up in the middle of the night to play. This may seem unusual, but the numbers speak for themselves. Mobile gaming is exploding globally with no end to the growth in sight. What I notice, though, is that the vast majority of my mobile gaming is done five and 10 minutes at a time. Sometimes 15. Sometimes, I am watching TV while I am playing. Sometimes I am writing something and need a break for a moment or two (like now). Or, I am eating a burrito. When I am playing a mobile game, it takes some, but not all of my attention.

All the research I have read tells me that my experience with mobile games is very much the norm. We all do it. We do it often, in short sessions. Most of the time, we’re doing something else while we’re playing.

Put down that burrito, because console gaming is very different. I don’t have the fastest thumbs, so playing with any skill at all requires my focus. I am fully engaged. All-in. The room with the biggest TV is the most important entertainment room in my house. And there, console gaming rules. In the room where the entertainment stakes are the highest, console gaming wins. When I am exploring Columbia, or taking down Necromorphs, solving Portal Puzzles, or running as Faith over building tops (OK, so I still love that game), I am all-in. Fully committed. It is a commitment I am happy to make.

The room with the biggest TV is the most important entertainment room in my house. And there, console gaming rules.

Console gaming and mobile gaming. Both are awesome. For me, and I believe hundreds of millions of others, neither is going away anytime soon. Mobile and console scratch different itches. Satisfy a very different hunger. Mobile is here to stay. But, I firmly believe that after eight long years of waiting, we’re all ready for the next generation of consoles to bring us to a new frontier of immersive gaming.

Now, back to Microsoft and Sony.

I believe that console gaming is going to explode on the scene of consumer electronics with this next generation of consoles. Sony and Microsoft absolutely need to deliver new boxes that really impress us. They need to deliver platforms that enable game experiences that are not possible on current consoles. It is not just about graphics, although it is partly about graphics. It is also about recognising that a lot has changed with online devices and the cloud since the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were originally introduced.

Our expectations are much, much higher. The next generation of consoles needs to deliver. And, more than anything else, the great developers who create games for these platforms need to wow us with great games and experiences that go well beyond anything we’ve played before.

It's about recognising that a lot has changed with online devices and the cloud since the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were originally introduced.

None of us has seen the future. But based on everything I know and what I have seen, most everything is pretty much in place for all of these things to happen, and to put console gaming front-and-center again. I see 2013 as the year that brings gaming pizzazz back to the living room, where it all really started.

But I do have this nagging fear that it is not too late to snatch defeat from the jaws of probable victory.

I keep asking myself how this might happen, and I come up with a four potential pitfalls that could turn my predicted console victory lap of 2013 into something a bit less grand. Trip on these, and what could be the start of a game console-driven revolution in the living room quickly turns into something that passes with more of a yawn than a cheer.

The first and most obvious of these pitfalls is if Sony or Microsoft forgets who brought them to the dance in the first place. Gamers. I certainly see the temptation to emphasise all sorts of experiences that these boxes might bring to the living room. These new machines can do a lot. The risk is that either or both of the new platforms emphasise these “value-add” experiences too much, both in the user interface on the consoles themselves, or in the story they tell consumers when they unleash their avalanche of advertising. To paraphrase a political slogan, it’s about the games, stupid.

The first and most obvious of these pitfalls is if Sony or Microsoft forgets who brought them to the dance in the first place. Gamers.

The risk here is real. Both Sony and Microsoft want to be seen as revolutionary companies. To capture that bit of magic that Steve Jobs had running Apple. Reinventing the Living Room sounds so big and sexy. It will read as brilliant in the Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, People and The New York Times. But the risk of complexity in the new console UI (User Interface) is real. Give us too much on the screen, and we’ll never find our games.

The risk is that too many choices and a UI design to appeal to too many audiences, means nothing stands out.

Ensure the box delivers awesome game experiences, better than anything we’ve experienced before, and millions of gamers will line up at midnight to buy it. Delivering a box that raises the question of whether we should buy the new console over the $US100 Apple TV device or a $US60 Roku player will cause too many gamers to wait it out and commit only when the smoke clears.

A second potential pitfall has to do with supply. Consumers today have gotten used to getting what they want, and getting it immediately. We want it now and we want our friends to have it now, so we can play together. The window of time to establish a new world order in consumer electronics is no longer measured in multiple years, as it was in the early 2000’s. Today, it is measured in a year, if not a handful of months.

Past console launches have been severely hampered by a lack of supply. A new console launch with only a few million units available will simply frustrate all of us. Limited supply means the new consoles will launch with a whimper and whine, not the cry of attack. If Sony and Microsoft want to see the next generation of consoles take high ground in the consumer electronics war this year, they are going to have to invest to make sure there are enough of the new consoles out there.

The window of time to establish a new world order in consumer electronics is no longer measured in multiple years. It is measured in a year, if not a handful of months.

The third issue is price. Last time out, Sony priced their fully-featured PS3 at $US599. This made some sense with a launch hampered by a lack of supply. It won’t make sense, either for Sony or Microsoft. Not if they decide to invest in enough supply to really compete for consumer attention in a world used to new hot products from companies like Apple and Samsung selling 5 and 10 million in the first month. Getting the price right is a very important part of the equation. The stakes are enormous.

The fourth issue involves how they handle a few third-rail topics. The question of the always-on connection is one that causes some gamers’ blood to boil. Gamers will want, and learn to love, the good parts of consoles being more connected to our digital lives than was possible with the machines launched eight years ago.

Some gamers fear the new consoles could be more about a DRM-walled garden than about enabling new types of connected gameplay. More about squashing second-sale (used games) than allowing us to play the games we own at our friends houses, in dorms or at home, without having to bring the disk with us. I don’t believe consoles managed as walled-gardens will succeed longer term.

I don’t believe consoles managed as walled-gardens will succeed longer term.

We will want console games that seamlessly connect with our iPhones. Games that change and update in the background while we’re sleeping, to make tomorrow’s gameplay different and far more dynamic than today’s. I believe we’ll all want the ability to bring meaningful achievements in our PC and mobile game to our new consoles, and from our new consoles to our PC and mobile games. It needs to be simple, seamless and without a bunch of headaches with multiple registration, identity and pay gates. The walled garden will fall eventually. At launch, Sony and Microsoft must avoid putting up new and alarming DRM schemes, and focus on enabling the cool new game experiences that seamlessly connected consoles allow.

Sony and Microsoft must avoid putting up new and alarming DRM schemes, and focus on enabling the cool new game experiences that seamlessly connected consoles allow.

I am a huge believer that this is the year we put focus back on console gaming in a way it has not been for some years. To put Sony’s and Microsoft’s next consoles in the same frame as Samsung’s and Apple’s hottest products. To do this, I believe they need to do a few things right:

  • They need to make it about games and gamers.
  • They need to invest to make enough consoles and prove they can compete with the supply chain prowess of companies like Apple and Samsung.
  • They need to price sharply to ensure consumers buy what they make.
  • And they need to think open platform more than walled garden.

If they avoid the pitfalls that would keep them from getting all of that right, I am quite sure console gaming will (once again) be the next big thing.

So, if you are still debating whether mobile gaming will kill the next generation of consoles before they ship, my answer is no.

Did everyone who loves Skittles stop eating steak? Of course not.


John Riccitiello is the former CEO of Electronic Arts.


Comments

    The room with the biggest TV is the most important entertainment room in my house. And there, console gaming rules. In the room where the entertainment stakes are the highest, console gaming wins.

    This I agree with, and it's why I think these new consoles will do a lot better than the doomsayers seem to think. Yeah, I've got a few games on my phone that I play from time to time when I'm stuck somewhere boring for 10 minutes. But I'll spend more (and by a significant margin) on a single console game than I've spent on all of my mobile games combined. The market may be smaller than mobile games, but it's also more dedicated and willing to spend more money for a good product.

      My PC rules in the living room, the poor old PS3 gathers dust and hasn't been connected in over 18 months. Mobile gaming, Id probably spend about 5 mins a week and that's being generous. Looking forward to the new consoles, but currently see no point as the specs for the PS4 are almost identical to my PC that I bought over two years ago for about a grand.

        We've all heard this "my PC that is X years old is better" thing before. The PS4 and Xbox 720 architectures are completely different from standard PC architectures where the bus is your bottleneck. Simply comparing raw specifications is fairly inaccurate. Consoles are built for efficiency and speed, PCs are built to be all out brutes. It's like comparing a specialised track car to a big american muscle car. Sure, you may have more grunt but what matters is your turning ability around a track and your ability to put those ponies to the ground. Consoles are not designed to have sat nav, touch screen entertainment systems or for picking up shopping from your local supermarket. They are designed with no roof so you get wet when it rains, with no padding on the seats so you destroy your pelvis when you go over the slightest bump. They are deisgned for pure driving pleasure.

        Did I mention exclusives, exclusives, exclusives? Console gaming rules in my living room.

          dude, you start comparing consoles to home PC's then mention functions that a tablet or smartphone use (touchscreen,GPS et al.). My lounge is home to not only a custom PC gaming rig but also a PS3 & an XBOX360 and out off all three the PC is the Out & out track car that outperforms both my consoles hands down.........p.s I have a PSvita that has a touch screen & thats a pure console albeit a handheld one

            It was an analogy. I think you missed the point, but that's ok. A track car is not necessarily fast, it is built for purpose, handling and contains minimal features - think 2-stroke go-kart (i.e. sliced back OS, without an abundance of applications, not general purpose with a highly optimised architecture). I used to play games on PC then I realised how much I hated Windows and sitting there with a keyboard & mouse. I migrated to consoles because I'm lazy and when I want to game, I just want to game and I don't care about running games on high settings in some random, abitrary resolution. Keep it simple. I don't want to be messing around closing down applications, installing games, updating drivers, performing general maintenance on the operating system. I don't have time for that.

            I'm still excited about the release of new consoles. This generation will be great.

        Exactly, especially with Steam Big Picture and most games having Xbox 360 controller support, I am never buying a console again. Sorry ouya.

      ^ 100% agree, I have spent more time on monster hunter tri alone than my entire family has spent on mobile games in their life. The two experiences aren't even similar, its like trying to compare movie trailers with actual movies in terms of real content. (Probably an awful comparison but the best i could think of )

        It's more like comparing YouTube videos of somebody's cat to watching The Dark Knight in IMAX.

    No way they do Open Platform, let me see the odds on that gamble.

      Yep, never gonna happen. The only possibility is they might play their own games plus android games, but even that is unlikely.

    Saw the author and expected a load of codswallop. Surprisingly I found this article refreshing and that it mirrors my own thoughts. Anyone who says consoles are dead because "mobile" is, put simply, a halfwit. They are as stated, two very different experiences and can easily co exists, its not an either OR choice, though I am worried about his "pitfalls" especially the lack of focus on games. I'm buying a games console not a "smart" cable box.

      John Riccitiello usually gave the impression he knew what he was talking about and what gamers wanted, it was the doing part that he always got stuck on :p

    Here's the thing, Mr EA, Nintendo did three of those things, in their own style, and EA is ignoring them, like they did with the Wii.
    If consoles are going to fail it will be because people are money-rich but time-poor.
    They won't invest if they spend every 20 minutes waiting with a loading screen or it takes 30 minutes to get to the game.
    What console makers need to do is ensure they can help gamers make the msot of what gaming time they have. That means minimising loading times, making the experience as simple as possible to they can switch things on and start playing immediately. That is the core appeal of a console and one which has been evaporating over the duration of the previous generation on the 360, if not the PS3(I don't own one).

    Last edited 21/05/13 11:41 am

      O.o how on earth did they do that?

      They have literally 0 games, there is not a single game on the entire system i would find worth playing.

      They have over priced it. It has roughly the same power as ps3 and 360 yet costs more, because of the gimmicky tablet. They have also marketed it the worst of any console I have seen in my 20+ year life, so much so almost everyone besides the core gamer doesn't even know that its a new console.

      Those two are about the most significant of the pitfalls and they face planted into both. They had a 12 month lead and squandered it and have not failed to get an install base before all the hype switched to the real next gen consoles. Which is the end result we have now, nobody wants it, nobody is making games for it and retailers are slashing the price to dump stock (Target in the US is currently doing this).

      You can't expect ANY games company to try and support the sinking ship that is the Wii U.

      Last edited 21/05/13 11:47 am

        The four bullet points at the end.
        They made it about games and gamers, they made sure there was enough consoles available at release, and it was fairly priced.
        It's also got the same numbers of the PS3 at the same time.
        One thing they haven't done which would make a huge difference is embrace the indie scene, but no console has done that, and PS4 and Xbox whatever have shown no signs.
        They've also included backwards compatibility, which neither Microsoft or Sony have mentioned.
        I think the biggest issue with the WiiU is the marketing, which I agree has been atrocious.
        My 360 is a bulky dvd player since I got the U and while it doesn't have any must-buy games yet, it's still more interesting than anything microsoft or sony have done.

          I wouldn't say it's fairly priced. It's slightly more expensive than the PS3 / 360 that have similar specs but have vastly superior game libraries, many available at dirt cheap prices. All it has to justify the extra cost is the controller, but that doesn't seem to be exciting too many people so far.

          I don't know how you can say they made it about games and gamers when the obvious failing it has that is acknowledged by pretty much everybody is that there aren't any games that make it worth buying. At the very least they should have made Skyward Sword a Wii U launch title rather than doing it for the Wii.

          As for embracing the indie scene, I'm not sure about XBox since obviously they're not talking about it yet, but Sony have certainly been getting into it... http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-04-27-sonys-indie-initiative-how-the-hardware-giant-is-courting-small-team-talent.

          Last edited 21/05/13 12:50 pm

            If you're talking about libraries, all Wii games still work on it and it was targeted at gamers, even if developers haven't embraced the promise, by offering new experiences and letting players discuss them. Gamers have been saying for years graphics aren't as important as gameplay. I think the WiiU offers the most interesting gameplay oportunities.

            I think they would have been better served with a U-focussed Zelda title at launch rather than Skyward Sword, while lamenting the graphics in that will never be fully enjoyed on legitimate systems.

            But yes, the WiiU has made some huge mistakes and stumbled a lot. At this stage I am more hoping it will succeed than expecting it to.

              Well yeah, I guess what I was getting at was that they should have built Skyward Sword from the ground up as a Wii U focused game, not just release the exact same game on Wii U instead of Wii.

              Last edited 21/05/13 3:43 pm

                What could've been really cool (IMHO) would've been to have a 3D remake of a classic Zelda game which could be played in the original format on the gamepad alone.

                So, you would essentially be able to play a HD version of something like "Link's Awakening" and use the gampad in the typical gimmicky sense (for a map/inventory) and then have an option to switch to playing solely on the gamepad as an almost exact replica of the original handheld and your game would update between the two.

                Alternatively, they could even release a new time travel based LoZ story which actually involved switching between HD and 8/16bit to create puzzles that are some mix of Fez and Evoland.

          Ummmm how does"they made it about games and gamers" and "it doesn't have any must-buy games yet" make sense?
          You are as confused as the Wii U is!

            The CONSOLE is aimed at gamers, just like the Wii was aimed at parents.
            Games aren't a part of the console, they're just played on it.

              There's the fundamental misunderstanding between you and the folks disagreeing with you.

              For a console to 'be about the games and the gamers' doesn't really matter what kind of specs it has. What matters is the manufacturer's relationship with game publishers and developers who put the games ON it.

              If the new consoles marshal the advertising narrative that the future is about watching netflix, youtube, and playing Dance Central, that's a message that says behind the scenes they haven't been talking to publishers of core games and making sure their questions about the dev kits are well-answered, that certification has been massaged to meet the launch window, that advertising and distribution deals have been signed to get dashboard space and direct download lined up.

              Being 'about the games' is a hell of a lot more than putting out a nice lunch spread and a sign out front and twiddling your thumbs hoping someone turns up to your party.

                Transientmind here seems to have got the gist.

                You can't have a console "all about games" when there are no games on the console to speak of. Which is the entire point being made in the article, its actions not talk, Its the actual games library not the future promise of a potentially good one.

                It needs to be about the here and now. It needs good new games (not slightly altered mass effect 3 type games). It needs to have ALL functionality available at launch (Haha Wii U, is even half what they promised running yet?). It needs to be 100% DRM free, no online passes and activation's and everything in between to full fledged always online. Then finally if all that is done it needs to be priced well. So unlike the Wii U, which expected you to basically buy a 360/ps3 with a tablet peripheral at an increased price for 0, ZERO benefit. It needs to be Bang for you buck.

                Which ever company manages to do all of this will be able to dominate the console market.

    I agree, I don't think consoles are going to die from mobile gaming. Just be another choice, consoles, computers or mobile gaming. The only form of mobile gaming I do is on my laptop or if I can find it, my old Gameboy Colour but that is only if I don't feel like reading. I can't stand the mobile games on smart phones. I see a lot of people using it but it doesn't appeal to me. Though I do see more people playing on the Ds and Vita than mobiles. When I play a game I want it to be an experience; I want to sit down at whatever time and just kill a chunk of my day or night rather than doing 5-15 minute bouts over the course of a day.

    All I'm thinking now is, "time to make some skittle-fried steak...."

    Mobile gaming is mostly terrible if you want a deep engaging well controlled experience.

    Jetpack Joyride is fantastic for a short burst of fun but games that try to emulate console games immediately fail because of the touchscreen controls.

    Until phones can have proper controls in a way that doesn't make your phone the size of a toaster or require you to carry around a separate controller, consoles will always have their place.

    Last edited 21/05/13 12:13 pm

      I dunno about "immediately fail". Infinity Blade was pretty great all up.

        Shame that's the only example I can think of. :/ Even then I'm not sure that it didn't just succeed despite its control system, which frequently failed to capture what I was after due to edges of the screen and giant hands.

        Some of the RTS/turn-based strategy games have their place, and there's always Tower Defense.

    The problem with comparing it to mobile gaming is that yes, a lot of people play games on their mobiles, but are those games comparable to console/pc games? Playing Angry Birds on the train isn't really competing with consoles as you can't take a PS3 while you're commuting or on a break. When you get home though, the people that continue to play casual games on their phones are likely to be those that wouldn't spend money on a console anyway. Trying to bring casual games to the living room wouldn't really work either. If you want to play 4 pics 1 word or Angry Birds while at home, you're not going to want to turn on the tv and console to play it. It's the mentality that these games bring.

    I don't think though that console sales are being affected as much as people make out by mobile gaming. There will always be a demand for games to play on an HDTV in your living room, but now there's also a great way to play smaller casual games; on your smartphone/tablet. This is why the number of lower budget games has reduced since the days of the PSone. With the PSone you'd see games thrown together in a week on the system and not selling. Nowadays you see those games appearing in the Play Store or itunes and doing relatively well. Candy Crush (or whatever mobile game of the week is out then) is in no way a threat to sales of GTA V for example. It is though a great place for smaller, maybe less experienced developers to hone their skills as well as for casual gamers to be introduced to the possiblity of gaming

    I must be an unusual example. I barely touch mobile games at all. It's not because they're not quality or entertaining, I can just never shake the feeling I'm playing some gimped/cut down version of a game I could play on, say Vita or 3DS. My phone has Minecraft PE installed, and it gets maybe 5-10 minutes every few weeks/months on the extremely rare occasion I'm stuck waiting for something and don't have my Vita. It's the only game on my phone.

    That being said, my consoles (PS/Xbox, etc) are becoming increasingly less used as time passes. I find myself spending more and more time on my PC for my mainstay games, and the Vita for everything outisde of that (couch, bed, etc). The 720 and PS4 are going to have to pull out something incredible for me to buy either at this point. If I don't buy either, it'll be the first generation since I got my NES as a kid that I haven't partaken in any of the major offerings. It's not that I don't think they'll be great products, I'm certain they'll both be worthy of the next generation. It's just for me I can't see any reason I'd dive in at all.

    Not sure if that's more telling about the current state of console gaming, or a reflection of me just changing as I get older. I've pretty much always had a PC (sometimes a great PC, sometimes garbage) and various consoles. I always seem to remember a time when consoles and PC's were different. Different machines, different games, different experience. PC had those special games and experiences I couldn't get anywhere else, but it was always a little more involved to get set up, play the game etc. Consoles had their own special games and experiences, but they were infinitely simpler to play. I played consoles for pure, simple experiences, and the PC for something a little more involved.

    Consoles aren't simple anymore. They haven't been for a while now. Apart from some exclusives, and the obvious cost difference in hardware, I can't see a good reason to own a console and a PC at the same time anymore.

    Great article! I love having guest authors who really bring a knowledgeable perspective to Kotaku.

    On-topic: While Mr. Riccitiello has identified a few potential derailing issues, he's missed one, and it's what will, if anything will, be the killer of EA in this generation. He pointed out that:

    Our expectations are much, much higher. The next generation of consoles needs to deliver. And, more than anything else, the great developers who create games for these platforms need to wow us with great games and experiences that go well beyond anything we’ve played before.

    And there is a big problem with that: The skyrocketing cost of enabling these devs the time, tools, and skills to be spent on creating these amazing new experiences. But what is already happening is that games are selling millions of copies and not making money back. Examples: Darksiders 2, DmC, Final Fantasy XIII, Medal of Honour, etc. I'm sure there are many more. Adding a few extra zeroes to the total cost of development wasn't an issue in the PS1 days, nor in the PS2 days, but it became a bit of a problem in the PS3 days, and it's going to be disastrous in the PS4 days. When a game can sell millions of copies, but is still unprofitable, it's going to be unsustainable. Those games will cease to exist.

    Then we will have these mighty consoles which only get close to being pushed by a half dozen games a year, and the rest of us will be wondering what we bought them for, because people will be making PC, PS3, 360, or mobile games instead.

    Last edited 21/05/13 12:37 pm

      That same argument also applies to PC. We always hear about how much better PC hardware is, but the issues around development costs increasing as those hardware capabilities increase are exactly the same there. But somehow escalating costs are only talked about when discussing problems facing console gaming, when they're actually an issue affecting AAA gaming in general, regardless of platform. If rising development costs kill off console gaming, they'll kill off PC gaming, too. Except for the low-budget indie stuff which can often run quite happily on a 4 year old PC.

      It's also an issue of unrealistic expectations on the part of publishers, I think. I read that Tomb Raider lost money despite selling something like 6 million copies. You have to wonder how many they were seriously expecting to sell. If your game can't turn a profit on 6 million copies then, frankly, you spent way too much on it and should definitely have gone lower budget. That's a case of poor risk management as much as anything else.

      Last edited 21/05/13 1:00 pm

        Oh sure, the top-end of PC gaming might not survive strongly outside of weird ones like Stalker or Total War or whatever. But mid-core is still alive and well on PC, and it is really not on console. Only a percentage (if a significant one?) is indie, too: there are plenty of established 'studios' which produce only games of that tier. So while rising costs are indeed a problem for PC gaming too, it's not a life-threatening one, except maybe for the guys who like developing new shiny graphics cards.

        Edit: Oh, I should probably provide some examples of mid-core PC-centric studios ^^; See, for example: Paradox, Kalypso, Stardock, Relic, Tripwire, Telltale, most Kickstarters, etc.

        Last edited 21/05/13 1:19 pm

          Fair point, but at the same time consoles are adapting to that through the PSN / XBL stores. You're right in that the mid-range is getting more difficult, but I think to some extent we'll see that start to reassert itself in more ambitious PSN / XBL games. A prime example of that is Telltale, as you pointed out - The Walking Dead did good business on all platforms despite falling into that mid-tier area. Journey is another good example - not a major AAA game, but nor was it a shoestring-budget, but still very successful. It was kind of the best of both worlds, an indie developer backed by a major publisher and platform holder. I think mid-tier is dying in the physical retail sense, but it'll carry on with digital distribution on PSN / XBL / Steam etc.

            I really hope you're right, and that mid-tier games resurface via XBLA/PSN. As far as I'm aware, it's just too difficult to work with the platform holders to make it happen this generation See MS's download limits and painful certification and patch processes, etc. Sony is pretty good, I've heard, and getting better, so I'm hopeful!

            Still, do you really think mid tier games will be a high point for the new $600+ console? I'm not entirely sure that mid-tier will support consoles like it has supported PC.

            PC also has a few unique markets (MMO being the big one) which consoles have never successfully tapped. Again, I've heard rumblings that they may be going this way in future, but we'll have to wait and see, I guess.

              Still, do you really think mid tier games will be a high point for the new $600+ console?

              I think it depends on the game. If somebody does something interesting and different (see reference to The Walking Dead and Journey, above) then they'll find a market. If they make a generic FPS or 3rd person cover shooter then no, they won't do very well because they'll get blown out of the water by AAA games that do the same thing better. It's like any smaller business competing in any market - if you try to go toe-to-toe with the big players then you'll probably get burned. The key is to find a gap in the market that they're not servicing very well and make that your focus.

              Sony certainly seem to be doing all they can to make life easier for smaller developers (e.g. changing the business model to allow self-publishing, not charging to release patches, simplifying and streamlining the certification process). And if MS aren't already doing that then I'm sure they will start pretty quickly if Sony start attracting a lot of the indie talent.

    i hate skittles.
    i want steak.
    however at the moment, steak is impractical a lot of the time due to other commitments. so instead i have a steak sandwich. a bit smaller, easier to eat with your hands and still has a decent amount of steak in it.

    my 3DS and Vita are my go to gaming devices at the moment.
    Im as excited as the anyone for the next consoles (my wallet isnt) i even purchased one of those silly wii u things in the hope that it would suit my play styles better than my portables (well that seems to have failed) but i really do worry about these new consoles.
    solely because the way i see it the wii generation is happy with mobiles and portables and the hardcore gamer is happy with PC.

    i know they will have a spot in my tech filled house but im not sure how many others they will get into

    what we need is just good great, fun, Immersive, playable games using today's technologies. why is it becoming so important to have a console that resemble a pocket army knife. so what about a console that is great at just playing games!

    its very very simple, they need to pin connect there fucking cpu and gpus instead of it connected by paste. That way we wont get fucking RROD or YLODs

    "Put down that burrito, because console gaming is very different."

    Quote of the year.

    I agree with three of those four points... but I don't play mobile games, and don't see how they're relevant to what we want from consoles, except to point at them and say "not that". If I've got five minutes to waste, I'll bust out my Rubik's cube; if I've got twenty, I'll pull out my tablet and read a book. If I've got an hour or more, I'll probably read or watch videos on my tablet, and make sure I plan better in the future. Even portable gaming feels off - stuff like AC: Liberations and Gravity Rush were exactly what I thought I wanted from portable gaming, and they were great when I was on holiday, away from my consoles and PC... but I'm on holiday for maybe two or three weeks a year; hardly a reason to own a Vita. If I've only got limited time on my hands to play a game, I can't get into it; if I have the time I'd need to get into it, I'm probably in front of my PC already. I fail to see how, even with its supposed widespread success, mobile gaming will trump consoles - they're completely different.

    What I'm more worried about is that most of the console gamers that were planning to be early adopters of this generation, and would have bought either or both systems day one had they been released two years ago, have moved to PC by now, like I have. I still might get a console if it doesn't break the bank, but I'll hold to my "5*-game rule" - if a system doesn't have enough exclusive games that I'm spending more on the system than the games I'd be buying it for, it's not worth the purchase. I'm sitting at about two or three titles for the PS4, but even if they hit the $500 sweet point, that means at least three or four more exclusives would be required for me to seriously consider buying it.

    *Actual number may vary; 5 was the number of games an Xbox 360 at launch required to satisfy this (5x$100-110 ~= $500-550); PS3 was closer to 10. The Xbox 360 was the only console to achieve this within months of its launch, so I went with the 360 last gen.

    He likes Mirror's Edge. That makes him a swell guy in my book.

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