Are we ready for next gen and do we want it? Updated for 2013

This was written in May 2011. Exactly 2 years later, I have rediscovered it and added the latest generation of upcoming consoles.

This was written in May 2011. Exactly 2 years later, I have rediscovered it and added the latest generation of upcoming consoles. 

Recently the next gen of consoles has been a pretty hot topic. First we had news that Nintendo was going to announce their “Project Cafe”, the successor to the Wii at this years E3 Next there were mumblings about the next console from Sony being well under way. And finally (for me) there was UK Ubisoft Exec, Rob Cooper saying the following.

“… there have been tons of technological advances since the last round of consoles was released, and we’d love to see those advances included in new consoles sooner rather than later.” (MCV)

3817 800px Commodore64 Are we ready for next gen and do we want it? (ARTICLES)

Now, I come from the Commodore 64 generation.  So my first reaction was to question this sentiment.  The C64 lasted for 12 years.  Surely this desperation to move the next generation is just one of two things.  Greed or laziness.  Why try to eek out every last bit of performance from the current gen, when you can easily achieve your goals with a more powerful machine.  After all, that was what kept the early generations of consoles alive.  Innovation.

Or was it?

I decided to look at the timelines for console releases, to see if I was just seeing the whole thing through slightly rose tinted glasses.  I will admit my findings surprised me a little.

Console Released Years Between  
Commodore 64 1982   Was still in production in 1994
Amiga 500 1987 5 Closest thing to a successor
2600 1977    
400 1979 2  
5200 1982 3  
Jaguar 1995 13  
NES 1985   1983 in Japan
SNES 1990 5  
N64 1996 6  
GameCube 2001 5  
Wii 2006 5  
Wii U 2012 6  
Master System 1986    
Megadrive 1989 3  
Saturn 1995 6 In the mean time 32x tried to breath life into the Megadrive.
Dreamcast 1999 4  
Playstation 1994    
Playstation 2 2000 6  
Playstation 3 2006 6  
Playstation 4 2013 7  
Xbox 2001    
Xbox 360 2005 4  
Xbox One 2013 8  
Average Between each Release 5  

Looking at this you can see a few things.  Whilst the C64 did indeed survive twelve years, it was succeeded in generation by the Amiga 500 after about five years.  It also turns out that there is about a five year gap, on average, between generations for each console developer.  I have not included the Atari in averages. Their release timeline is a little bit of an anomaly!

So, each generation lasts about five years.  The current generation has been around since 2005 / 2006. That means that by that timeline, we are actually heading into being overdue for the next generation of consoles!

At this point I have to eat a large slice of humble pie.  I had always maintained that the generation gaps had been getting shorter and shorter.  It turns out this is total rubbish!  If anything it is getting slightly longer each time.   Maybe developers are not just being lazy, maybe it is time for them to have new platforms to indulge their imaginations a little more.

But, there is still the question of whether or not we want it?

I am personally very happy with the current generation.  True, there are certain games that make the current consoles look a little clunky.  L.A. Noire does struggle a little on the Xbox 360 — it is just vast.  Not to mention three discs long!

For me it is a financial issue.  I have a Wii, a PS3 and an Xbox 360.  I really have no wish to buy a whole new set of consoles any time soon!

What do you think?

In the mean time I shall enjoy my humble pioe in a corner hugging my C64.


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