The Future Of Gaming Is Cloudy
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The Future Of Gaming Is Cloudy

After three decades, Microsoft, Sony and NIntendo are changing the game.

The Future Of Gaming Is Cloudy

"You mean if." That is what President of Sony's Worldwide Studios said to Oddworld creator, Lorne Lanning, as to the existence of the PlayStation 5. At E3 this year, Microsoft officially unveiled that Project Scorpio will be released as a more powerful step up from the standard Xbox One hardware. Eurogamer reported this week on Nintendo's new console, the NX, as possibly being a hybrid between a home console and mobile device that is set to be released in March of next year, which would be traditionally in the middle of a console generation. The tradition of the standard console generation seems like it may possibly be coming to an end. The industry that Nintendo and Sega started in the late 80's and early 90's, of evolving generations of video game hardware that compete with each other for a few odd years, may be heading out as the rapid pace of technology shows the age of this business model.

Of course there has always been the PC gaming market, which has existed outside the console gaming market, that has always worked on steadily upgrading hardware every few years to keep up with the more advanced technology. Near the end of the last generation (PS3, 360, Wii) many gamers were ready to declare the death of consoles, as gaming PC's became more popular and their more powerful graphic capabilities over consoles more evident. They were obviously proven wrong as strong sales for both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One still continue to this day, but it seems that Sony and Microsoft have caught on that their newly released machines, only 3 years old, are already very out of date.

4K technology and Virtual Reality seem to be fueling their need for an upgrade. As soon as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were brought out with each company bragging about the 1080p capabilities of each, 4K resolutions were already shadowing them in visual clarity. The popularity of virtual reality that is now commercially available on PC, shows more promise as being the future of gaming than the traditional idea of gaming on a TV.

Microsoft isn't the only one with a mid-generation upgrade. Project Neo is Sony's upgrade for PlayStation 4 that has yet to be officially announced, but has been confirmed to exist. The thing about these upgrades is that this isn't the first time this has been attempted. In the early 90's Sega released many add-ons for the Sega Genesis. All of these add-ons were considered commercial failures. Nintendo tried to do something similar with the Super Nintendo, which after a long series of events resulted in the creation of the original PlayStation and the ill-fated Philips CD-I. Nintendo would flirt again with console add-ons later that decade with the Nintendo 64 DD, which was a huge flop in their home market of Japan and never saw the light of day outside of the country.

How Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo plan to market these mid-generation upgrades is beyond me. History shows that consumers are happy with buying one console and sticking with it for a few years. To ask gamers to pull out more from their wallet to spend on new machines is a lot to ask. It begs the question if these will become incremental yearly upgrades like the cell phone market. If so maybe gamers can survive off a few years of not buying the newest version to wait until there console is just obsolete. More questions arise though. How long will games be compatible within these upgrades? After so many years programs can't be run on certain systems due to their age. We already see this happening with old PC games. Will we ever see a point where there will be a new base console to work on upgrades from?

It's a lot to wonder, and a lot to be explained and then hopefully adopted. Sony and Microsoft seem to be investing heavily in this new strategy of incremental upgrades. Nintendo is in a whole different boat as to how well the NX will do and how well it can compete with Microsoft and Sony on one side and the mobile market on the other. The future of gaming is unclear for the first time in a long time. We can't confidently predict anymore that companies will have one console that will last for many years. For the first time in three decades we are seeing the video game industry try to change its business model on a huge scale, and we can only wait and see how it will turn out.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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