These New Console Launches Are Bumming Me Out

From the time the Wii U was first unveiled right through to today, the eve of the new Xbox's unveiling, I've found myself feeling something very strange.

In years (and decades) past, the arrival of new hardware was exciting. Exciting because new consoles were the biggest and best, sure, but also because they were the latest step on a bigger journey, one blazing the way towards a brighter video gaming future. OK, yeah, this new console is amazing, but man, I wonder what comes next?

I don't feel that this time. I don't feel any excitement at all.

Instead, I've got an overbearing sense of melancholy. Maybe even ennui. Not at the machines themselves; the PS4 seems supremely capable, and I've no doubt the next Xbox will be similar. No, I'm sad about the fact that this feels like the last gasp. A final hurrah.

The end of console gaming as we know it.

Maybe I can't see gaming's forest for the trees. Maybe I'm just bleak. But I can't see another round of console launches after this. OK, perhaps Nintendo can squeeze one more in, if only out of necessity, but the prospect of Sony and/or Microsoft having the will - or the money - to make a PS5 or Xbox 1080 in 5-8 years seems remote.

Why?

There's so much talk of diminishing returns in the console market.

Studios have been closing and consolidating faster than new ones can spring up.

The costs of developing and marketing console games is out of control.

With the financial cost of failure too steep, too many series are diluted, pitched at everyone and truly resonating with nobody.

We used to get a new console every 4-5 years. This time around, it's taken eight. Seriously. The Xbox 360 was released in 2005. If you need reminding on how long ago that was, watch this.

That "delay" hasn't been for fun. It's been because that's how long it's taken to draw a line under the current generation.

Many people who once would have purchased a PlayStation for idle gaming can now scratch that same itch on their phone. Or their tablet. Hell, they can even buy games for their browser.

Steam, the explosion of independent development and the focused clout of Kickstarter have transformed the PC from a sleeping giant into the most exciting platform on the planet. The buzz around stuff like the Oculus Rift only amplifies this.

Even Nintendo, a company once synonymous with the very idea of console gaming, is suffering through the most disastrous home console launch since the Dreamcast.

Sure, some could argue that consoles can recover, that there's room for both skittles and steak. And in many ways, I hope they're right. I really do, especially in Nintendo's case. But, um, steak doesn't cost $US500. And in that metaphor's real world, people already own skittles, and they're always in their pocket wherever they go.

What should be a time for parties, then - for excitement - instead for me feels like the band playing as the Titanic goes down. The home console business is just beset by so many problems, from without and within, that unless there are significant and drastic changes to its business model I can't see it sticking around in its current form for another generation.

Which is why these launches seem so sad to me. They may well be the last ones I ever get to enjoy. Sure, as gaming changes other pleasures and experiences will no doubt arise to take their place, but they won't be the same.

People won't be lining up in the cold at midnight launches this holiday season for a piece of gaming's future. They'll be lining up to secure the final chapter of a piece of gaming's past.


Comments

    This time around my excitement is replaced with the thought of spending too much for the console and choosing which games to get in the "old generation" or "new generation".

      Indeed. Though the new consoles intrigue me, none of the excitement is there right now. Maybe it will be, but right now I keep thinking 'Ugh, its gonna be expensive as shit again... Im gonna wait a few years and keep going with the ps3/360'

    Even though I have moved onto PC gaming, I'd be very sad to see console gaming go and lose to bloody smartphones. I don't think it will, but you never know when money is at stake.

    Welcome to 2013. Optimism and promise are gone: we're left with gamification, monetisation, and digital rights management. Nobody is willing to promise amazing new products: they want you to sign up to their services instead. You've stopped being a customer, or even a consumer. You're now merely a subscriber. Gaming used to cost time, now it costs your freedom and your soul.

    I may be hyperbolic here, doomsaying even, but have you read a terms of service document recently?

    I really think your articles are wank Luke and are a blight on Kotaku.

    This wont be the last console generation, there is zero reason to think that. Many publishers are profitable only the horribly mis managed blown budgets that need to sell a most idiotically unrealistic number of copies to break even ala squeenix.

    I'm sick of this bullshit being spouted "oh oh oh mobile wahhh im too stupid to think for myself and dont have the intelligence or capacity to realise that mobile gameing is not even the same league as consoles or PC and will NEVER replace it in its current form".

    Seriously as in your previously atrocious article, this came about.
    " Comparing Mobile games is like comparing you tube videos to feature films"
    Because that's exactly how it is, no one buys a mobile game for a real gaming "experience" so to speak. They buy it so the 10 minutes in the cab gives them something to do, or the wait at a bus stop. For the times when playing a real game isn't realistic, because no one whips out a copy of fire emblem or persona for a quick 5 minute romp.

    I myself Am pumped, I couldn't have cared less for Nintendo offering because it was shit, why would i buy a console with the guts of something from 8 years ago( Hint no body wants to hence the flop). The new offerings by sony and microsoft will do nothing but invigorate the market and FORCE game companies to actually grow a brain and learn you can't jsut throw money at something and expect to make a profit. You don't need to build a whole new engine or this and everything else they try and blame.

      "I couldn't have cared less for Nintendo offering because it was shit"

      Good, good, let the past tense flow through you.

      mobile gameing is not even the same league as consoles or PC

      Meanwhile GungHo is making apparently $4 million US *a day* off Microtransactions on one of their mobile games (Puzzle & Dragons). Stuff like that is why people are looking at mobile games - there's crazy money going around there if you're in the right place at the right time. Probably unsustainable money, but it draws attention regardless. Especially when AAA console development is so risky still. Recently there's been quite a few really good games selling multiple millions of copies and not meeting expectations regardless. That's got to be a worry. The mobile market gets interest because it's very low risk and the rewards are insane right now if you manage to get a hit. Trouble is, it's probably a bubble and it'll burst eventually and burst badly.

      Anyway, there has to be some segment of the market which previously would have gone to console gaming which Apple and Google have sliced away and taken for themselves. Previously those people would have played console games, but now they get the bulk of their recreational gaming done on their phones. It's just hard to tell how big of a slice that actually is. It doesn't mean consoles will go away, just that they need to diversify and find other ways to make money on that platform in addition to selling games.

      If there's any 'traditional' gaming hardware that's doomed, it's dedicated handhelds, not home consoles.

      Leave, don't come back.

      Personal attacks are bullshit. Argue the points, not abuse the writer.

    i think its maybe because the list of features the new console have arent as new or 'wow' as the list of features the older generation has. you might get a bit of a smoother framerate at higher res in the new console, but it will still be selling you the same stuff on its market, be playing the same videos and music, and might have slightly more social integration. its probably tough to differentiate and tell yourself you 'need' to buy this one.

    Well, I can see a lot of names that need a four-week holiday from gaming.

    Seriously.

    Take a break, free yourself from the negativity that is online games discussion, and come back enthused with your hobby.

    This new gen looks FUN. Occulus Rift? Sony's already released one! Illumniroom is gimmicky as anything, but looks cool. All these devs think the PS4 is a return to the PS2 Sony, only better. Indies all over the big two players.

    Going to be FUN.

    I'll still probably get something with the new gen, probably a Ps4, but like this gen, i will wait until a couple of years have passed and there is a (hopefully) good games library and conoles price has dropped. I kinda agree that I don't feel the overwhelming need to pick up either on release, same as this gen. What happened to having awesome must have launch titles that totally blow you away? Particularly Ninty's was strange in this regard. Where was a top of the line Nintendo game to be launch with the Wii U? If anyone should have come in at the start and shown how that console could be utilised, it was ninty, but no, instead looks like have to wait the usual 2-3 years before a zelda or something hits it.
    Most of my gaming has always been on a PC however, and has been for 25 years

    In my opinion, if all console makers/designers returned to their roots and made "gaming" consoles, I think we could have a return of the "Glory Days".
    Instead, its all about trying to be everything, to everyone, and getting none of it right.
    Instead of forcing their image of an all-in-one entertainment hub down our throats, how about giving us what we want, what made them great, what made them the powerhouses they are, an actual "Gaming Console"!

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