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Posted by drew10 on Jan 29, 2010
Feature: When Does Next Gen Become Next Gen?

Feature: When Does Next Gen Become Next Gen?

The X-Ball?

Okay, in December 2010 the Xbox 360 will be five years old in Europe, the PS3 will be four in September with the Wii is also four in December. Given that the lifespan of the original Xbox was four years we ask today when the Next Gen war will start-up again?

It has been somewhat of a bugbear of ours that four years into this generation of consoles some places still refer to them as Next Gen. Obviously the moment the console is released it, by definition becomes current gen and we then can begin to dream about the true Next Gen.

So what do we think the next generation of gaming goodness served up by our favourite chip shops (oh dear, sorry!) will bring?

It is 2010 and we would suggest that by the end of this year the rumour mill will be well and truly turning with talk of Wii-2, PS4 and Xbox (Insert random number here) for these purposes we will go with 720. Yes we reckon that small details and maybe a tech demo or two will begin to leak by the end of 2010 with the PR machines going into overdrive in 2011 and possibly the release of the first console Christmas 2011.

As we saw with Xbox, PS2 and to a lesser extent Gamecube the last gen ended possibly a year too early with Microsoft

A stylish transparent PS4 by designer Tai Chiel

aiming to get the jump on its competitors. It succeeded by almost a year but possibly at a price, with an estimated 30% of all 360’s sold suffering the red

Rings of death. Still, apart from this the 360 was designed so that the machine could be produced cheaply as we have seen with the price reductions now down to just over £100 for the standard machine.

Nine Months later Sony gave birth to the PS3 a huge shiny black unit resembling a cross between an air conditioner and a laminating machine. The PS3 boasted a Blu-Ray player and true 1080p display (Something that would be added to 360 later). The price was over £400 and Sony’s PR shot themselves in the foot claiming that “Everyone will have to work a little bit harder for PS3.” They didn’t and high price and a less than inspiring selection of launch titles meant early sales of Sony’s dream machine were slow.

Barely a few weeks later Nintendo shocked the gaming world by releasing the Wii. Unlike anything we had ever seen before, the big N decided not to follow Sony and Microsoft by making Gamecube 2 but instead reworking the architecture of the original and giving it motion sensing controls. The rest is history and Nintendo are now firmly re-established as the true innovators of the gaming world.

The chances of the next Nintedo machine looking like this are zero!

Blimey that was all a bit long-winded! So back to the Next Gen let’s take a look into the future at what we might see.

Okay the chances are we will see some random number for the next Xbox, both 720 and 1080 have been muted but I suspect we might see a move away from the numbers, possibly something like Xbox Evo? Good ring that, I reckon I may register the website now!

Depending on how well Project Natal works or takes off we could see a motion sensing device in-built into the new machine. Personally whilst I am all for new controls I seriously hope this does not become the norm as I still prefer a joypad for most games.

With new UHD television technology on the horizon giving up 2 10 times higher definition that 1080p I would guess there will be some integration for this in the new system.

Obviously, DVD is no longer a suitable medium for gaming so expect Microsoft swallow the bitter Blu pill and install Sony’s drive in their next machine. Of course at some point we will see a move away from physical media and into digital delivery of all games. In our opinion that will be a very sad day as there is something almost erotic about breaking the seal on a new game (Did I just come across as slightly wrong there?).

The rumoured merger of Prada and Xbox bears fruit!

What is for sure is that the visuals on Microsoft’s next baby will be truly awesome.

We can take as read that Sony’s next machine will bear the Playstation logo. The PS4 could boast features like solid state hard drives which will lower production costs and should increase reliability.  The PS4 should also feature 3D gaming, which is coming to PS3 very soon as well as the motion controller Arc also coming to the PS3. I believe that the next-gen Playstation and Xbox will be more evolution than revolution.

Where we could see a major improvement is with Nintendo’s next games machine. Having already cornered the considerable and previously impregnable casual and female gamers market, Nintendo can now concentrate on improving on everything the Wii does so well. Expect much better visuals and the implementation of a solid state hard drive, the lack of DLC for Wii has been a problem from day one. Constant new routines for Wii fit at a reasonable price would have been great. Wii-2 is most likely to offer the biggest jump in terms of what the previous machine was capable of out of any of the consoles.

There of course lot’s of other features that the machines could feature. For example, the implementation of ‘cloud computing’. This is a system where all content is stored on-line and the machine in your house serves only as a portal to this content. Obvious benefits to this are that updates for games or bug fixes would be applied without customers ever knowing. Games should come down in price as retail packaging would no longer be required, although with

games downloaded for PSP being by and large more expensive than that of the retail versions this isn’t born out in

What is that giant black thing? It is cool!!

reality. Of course hardware would be cheap to produce and to buy as all the games would be run on monster machines somewhere in cyberspace! The drawbacks to this technology may see it introduced not in the coming generation of consoles but the ones after those. Everybody’s gaming experience would depend on their internet connection, unless you had the very fastest and

most stable connection you could forget about playing the best and most advanced games. Indeed the risk of being immersed in a game only to be dropped by the net at any time is a real one. Until everybody has access to super fast and ultra reliable internet then ‘cloud’ based games consoles just wont work.

Sony will seriously have to rethink their chip-set architecture in the PS4. The Cell processor employed in the PS3 has been notoriously hard for programmers to work with, so expect them to learn from this and move over to a more familiar multi-core processor for PS4. Although you can still expect it to have a stupid name (PS2’s ‘Emotion Engine’ is still my favourite!)

Nintendo bring in David Lynch for Wii-2?

I am sure that both Sony and Microsoft will have been watching when NVIDIA announced their new rendering engines. The most interesting from a gamers perspective is Optix a real-time Ray-trace engine (Yes Ray-Trace! We all remember the first time we saw Ray-traced silver balls on Amiga don’t we?) Well basically Ray-tracing is a why for computers to calculate exactly how light would fall on an object. This new engine could well provide the next-gen consoles with unprecedented levels of realism in their graphics.

I am sure we will see many interesting and bizarre artists impressions of supposed designs for the new consoles in the coming year, remember how Nintendo’s machine was due to look before they went with a cube? Or the infamous boomerang controller for PS3?

Time will tell if any of these ramblings will become reality, the one thing that is certain is that for now we are yet to see the best of the current-gen! And please stop calling it next-gen already!

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2 Responses to “Feature: When Does Next Gen Become Next Gen?”

  1. moonhead says:

    What with Natal on the horizon I don’t see any new console from Microsft until 2012

    The same goes for PS3 with Arc but they will also want to make sure they are in at least 2nd in this gens sales race before releasing a new console. So 2012 at the earliest.

    And as for Nintendo anybody that tries to 2nd guess what they are going to do next needs their heads read but I do agree that Q4 2011 will see the release of their new home machine whatever it will be.

  2. drew10 says:

    No no no Moonhead I’ll have a wager with you. Sony are determined not to get caught with their pants down again and the rumours in the industry are that they are looking to jump the gun and have their new console out before the other two!!

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