Is it true? Could this be the beginning of the end? For every console generation there were very few reasons to not own all the consoles at one point or another. Everyone bets on their primary console, gets multi-platform games on it, and usually has a second or even third console by the other manufacturers to play any of their console exclusive games they’re interested in. I presently own an Xbox 360 and a Wii. The 360 is my primary console and I purchase all the big multi-platform games on it. Since the PS4 is similar in the games the 360 gets, the only difference are the exclusives and I have every intention of picking up a PS4 on the cheap later this year for their library of games. The Wii has its own dedicated library and was the first console of this generation I got. Everyone needs their Mario and Zelda fix, right?
Yet, I sit here thinking that there’s going to be a massive shift that starts this generation. Next-gen starts at the end of the year, new consoles, new tech, new policies by all parties involved. Yes, the Wii U has been out for a year, but with lacklustre sales it’s an after-thought in most peoples mind. The real generation begins with the Xbox One and the PS4. Two machines with polarized policies. Xbox One requires an internet connection and daily check-ins, the PS4 does not. The Xbox One has publisher mandated used game policies, the PS4 does not. Xbox One has restrictions on who you can lend or sell your games to, the PS4 does not. Xbox One launches this November at $499 and the PS4 launches around the same time at $399.
Based solely on that, things are looking great for the PS4, but yesterday…. Yesterday, they slipped into their E3 Conference that online multi-player on the PS4 will require PS+, their premium based subscription service. The Xbox 360 and Xbox One both require Xbox Live to play online multi-player games, so this isn’t something new, but it is new from Sony who kept the PS3 free since launch, and that’s where the issue comes up.
Xbox users have already grown accustomed to the online pay-wall that is Xbox Live. We do get a lot of additional great features, so it’s more than just online multi-player, but it does add to the overall cost of console ownership. Many AAA games these days are multi-platform, and there are very few games that offer a strictly single-player experience. The overall sense I get from the next generation is that it’s aiming for an online, connected experience. Single-player experiences will exist, but I see them being an after-thought for larger, immersive, community-based online experiences.
How many people out there are willing to spend ~$100 a year on two different consoles that play the exact same games, save for the few exclusives per year? Will the cost be worth it? That’s up to the developers making games that are must haves and the valuation gamers put on the games they want to play. I don’t see it though. Even at the end of a generation like we’re experiencing now, I’m still waiting to get a PS3 for the price factor. The games I’ve waited years to play will be significantly cheaper and there’s no online fee to play any of those games. But in 5-7 years…..
I think we will see a huge shift this generation. I think we’ll see fewer exclusives and one console will take the lead and run away with it. I’m betting on the PS4 right now, but there are still a few months, maybe even a year before I’ll make that decision. If that shift happens, the gaming landscape will change in 5-7 years. I hope I’m wrong though, as a gamer.