Sega failed by pissing off developers and customers by releasing too many consoles. Now, with the nonsensical Xbox hardware launches, Microsoft run the risk of doing exactly the same thing!
But first, a history lesson - why did Sega collapse?
It wasn’t because of a lack of great exclusive titles, or weak hardware… Instead, they failed by turning developers against them through a sheer overkill of console releases. It's common sense - studios will not make games for a system they know is not going to be obsolete as quick as it arrived.
And now Microsoft have announced Project Scorpio with some seriously impressive computational power, making the also announced Xbox One S a wholly pointless pre-order purchase and rendering the albeit impressive library of exclusive titles obsolete. People who have spent upwards and over £300 on a console are already behind the times in one fell swoop.
I do not doubt their strategy because I get what they’re planning to do – bring the console more in line with the PC’s rate of hardware innovation. Only predictions at the moment, but I assume that means the individual components in Project Scorpio will be swappable, to stop developers hitting that metaphorical wall of capability.
But to a consumer – a customer who shrugs off the PC purchase for a games console – is this what they really want?
My money’s on “no.” I’ll explain and make my escape before the fanboys attack.
The idea of owning a static home console and playing games on it has existed in the popular space since the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972, meaning we’ve pined over the same formula of faster hardware and games for 46 years…
While that is amazing in one respect, it goes to show how outdated console gaming actually is. With the changing face of media content consumption, gaming is long overdue an update.
But for now, if we’re going to stick to this rapidly aging way to play games on a console, then you cannot drop a deuce on your stellar games library and upcoming work from your developers like this.
What you now face is a clash of identity – you want to keep customers focussed on great games are here, but expect them to shell out more money for another box to do the same thing but better? And you want them to upgrade what is typically only halfway through a console generation?
Here’s what should happen in one word… Subscription.
Game streaming is constantly improving and THAT is the next thing for the industry. Everybody is touting Virtual Reality as the next step based on immersion – I understand that – but the next generation of consoles shouldn’t be physical consoles at all.
Now I know streaming is not new – Sony is already testing it. Hell, we reviewed OnLive nearly 5 years ago! But in those 5 years, nothing has changed. The problems that existed for people at that time (internet speed, ping time) have been rectified on the most hand (emphasis on “most”), but we haven’t seen any progression in the area of game consumption.
This is what should have been worked on over this past half decade, rather than continuing to run the console generation wheel. Granted – the PS4 and Xbox One have been BIG money-makers, but how long can that viability last into future generations?
The concept of paying to consume content has changed in all areas except for video games. All it takes is for one of these titans to pivot and provide a subscription-based service to take the whole industry by storm.
That would eliminate all these tensions entirely, but I have a feeling they don’t want to remove these tensions yet at the risk of their immediate profit. But if the wheel keeps spinning faster and faster, developers won’t see the benefit and customers won’t keep shelling out the cash.
Simply put, without a future plan that involves the cloud, you could be running the industry into the ground.
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.