Sony and Microsoft, have you not taken heed of console failures from the past?
With the Playstation 4 Pro heading for a November release and Microsoft’s new Xbox, codenamed Project Scorpio, on the horizon for next year, consumers are stuck with a question – do you need or want one?
And the answer in pretty much all circumstances is a resounding “no.”
Now look, I get it. They are both new machines that support a new TV standard, which is just starting to gather steam. That’s great – but the general consumer is not looking for a new machine to step up to this heightened level of quality.
4K HDR was present three years ago, posing the question why they didn’t work to deliver support in their initial machines.
But instead, they are deciding to cut a console generation in half with a needless machine. This is not “for the players,” but solely for the investors.
However, in making this move, they may have gone and metaphorically shot themselves in the foot. Allow me, dear reader, to explain.
Console gaming consumer behaviour revolves around generations – each roughly six years (regardless of whatever planned obsolescence is in the machine) to grow an ecosystem of games and move onto the next one.
But constant upgrades to current consoles has happened in the past… Remember Sega? That company that improved the Mega Drive with Sega CD, and then tried again with the 32X. But then introduced an entirely new console named the Saturn, and yet again rendered that obsolete with ANOTHER console 3 years later named the Dreamcast.
This rapid movement lost 3rd party developer trust in the brand, pulling out to opt for bigger and better things from Sony.
“Wait!” I hear you ask. “You prat, this all happened over 10 years ago. Surely consumer behaviour has changed,” to which I say you are right except for one problem.
The living room is a stale place for innovation.
I can see Sony and Microsoft’s inspiration – looking at how the rate of smartphone purchases have progressed to an almost annual upgrade.
With people shelling out over £500 (or more on contract) for a new phone every year, surely they should be comfortable with picking up another console sooner, right?
My TV has not changed for years, just like yours probably has not or yours will not if you’ve just purchased one (congratulations, by the way). And all those boxes underneath will not change for a far longer time than the rest of the gadget-based industry.
You care more about what is on you at all times over what is in front of you, and I feel this will be represented in slower sales.
And let’s not forget Sony and Microsoft could amplify the problem by segregating their libraries with 4K-exclusive games. Sony say they won’t right now, but what’s to stop them withholding a killer app from all PS4 gamers, to lure people to a slightly more powerful PS4?
Now this is not me trashing the hardware or the strategy at a glance. Sony – your games look great and to price it the same as the original PS4 is smart.
But beyond the “hardcore gamers” you say the Pro is for (who are probably keeping up with the current rate of innovation by playing on a PC anyway), will anyone actually buy this?
Will the everyday man or woman stop what they’re doing and make the conscious decision to drop that amount of money again on the same generation?
It’s a difference of need and want. People don’t need this or Project Scorpio, but I don’t believe the “want” will be there either – not for a couple of years at least.
But do you agree? Or do you think I’m full of sh*t? Let me know – really eager to discuss this with all of you.
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.