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Why the next generation Xbox and PlayStation ARE coming soon: A rumour free guide, using just the facts

The Wii U is scarier than you think

Here’s where we come to a rather powerful catalyst. And when I say “rather powerful catalyst”, I’m talking Caesium-meets-water here. You see while the Wii U’s currently-unknown power makes it debateable as a direct rival for Microsoft and Sony – indeed, debatable as even a success for Nintendo, as I've espoused at length myself – it’s very probably a fundamental force in deciding – and spurring on - the two other platform holders’ next generation plans.

Above: Scarier than you think

Nintendo you see, is now what is technically known in business circles as a deceptively scary bastard. Once perceived as the bumbling sleepy granddad of the games industry, shuffling through its crazy but inoffensive actions in a haze of well-meaning senility, Nintendo’s shake-up of the first half of this console generation now has it flagged up as an very unpredictable threat. Like a teleporting ninja or something.

Remember when Microsoft didn’t see Nintendo as competition? Remember when it happily invited people to buy a 360 and a Wii instead of a PS3? Remember how that sort of talk vanished into the breeze as soon as the Wii started selling faster than meths at a hobo cocktail lounge? While the Wii U has definite  audience perception issues at the moment, and isn’t necessarily being taken seriously across the board, don’t forget that the Wii was in a very similar situation immediately after its announcement. Microsoft might currently be claiming not to be in competition with Nintendo, but it cannot be disregarding the issue in private now that there's precedent.

Above: "Let them point", thought the Wii. "Let them point and laugh. My revenge will be swift and bloody". And it was

Put simply, neither Microsoft nor Sony wants to risk letting the Wii U gain any sort of long-term traction against its own console. Microsoft especially will want to shut down the Nintendo threat as quickly as possibly, given that the casual home entertainment market it looks to be heading into itself now is exactly the same one sewn up by Nintendo with the Wii. And there’s one very obvious way to do that. By jumping ahead of the Wii U’s presumed ‘gen 1.5’ hardware with a genuine next gen console sooner rather than later. By making the Wii U immediately obsolete in terms of hardware specs, leaving Nintendo knee-deep in yet another game of eternal catch-up, lolloping along the track behind its big two rivals again like a tired dog with ever-shortening legs.

But it’s not just Nintendo who is pushing Microsoft and Sony to act. No, you see they’re doing that themselves now too. Whether they're intentionally doing it or not. 

The Mexican stand-off

If Microsoft is jumping ahead, Sony will have to as well, whether it wants to or not. Between the start of 2011 and late November, Sony went from flat-out disregarding talk of the PS4 to having its European boss Jim Ryan state that “we would consider it undesirable to be significantly later than the competition [with the next generation]”. What changed in that time? Well Nintendo announced a new machine, and then a load of rumours kicked up about the next Xbox. Coincidence? No.

Both platform-holders have now learned how important an early start can be, Microsoft by gaining one and Sony by missing out. And in light of the Wii U, each knows that gears must be turning within its rival’s next gen machinery now. Thus, both companies have been pushed into a cold war, forced to jostle against each other by the potential rise of a third rival in Nintendo. Only this time the weapon stock-pile is consoles instead of nukes, so that’s sort of nice.

But whatever's going on internally, there's a very clear and overt signifier than things are moving on. One that you can see every day as a core gamer.

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25 comments

  • shnazzyone - February 1, 2012 11:32 p.m.

    I loved this article. One of the more interesting articles i've read deconstructing the current console state of affairs. E3 should be interesting this year.
  • Rhymenocerous - February 1, 2012 10 a.m.

    What about CryEngine 3? But yeah, after reading this, 2013 doesn't seem like a rediculous prediction for console releases at all. Not that I'm in such a rush though, I'm happy with things as they are.
  • psptwo-roundup - February 1, 2012 3:39 a.m.

    Considering the current latest PC graphics cards are going for $400+ each, lets guess (wildly) at: $150 for the four-billion transistor GPU, $100 for a quad-core processor and $80 for 8GB DRAM - based on $1.25 for 2Gbit memory (spot market prices - that's proper research that is!). $200 R&D, build, marketing and guff $530 - convert that to £s = £530 (not £333 thanks to evil money-grabbing types who ignore the .63 $/£ exchange rate.) And we're almost at the point where a next gen console becomes affordable. Can't be too far off, but while the middleware and graphics engines are now more than capable, most developers will need a good deal of ramp up time to produce the games that these consoles demand. The most important part of the equation - the Grand Theft Auto/Unreal/MGS/id-engine teams need to have finished their final this-gen products, had a holiday and settled down to master the next-gen code engines before its worth announcing anything.
  • aratiatia - February 1, 2012 12:16 a.m.

    The New Zealand scenery was a pleasant surprise in this article! Very cool.
  • D0CCON - January 31, 2012 6:57 p.m.

    I liked this article, and then I remembered that the title said rumor free and wondered how this article deserves that title.
  • Stiltzkin - January 31, 2012 5:48 p.m.

    Huh. Odd choice of photo with the highway (this way to next gen). Was wondering what the heck New Zealand had to do with this. Apparently we just have easy to photoshop highways?
  • tiben36 - January 31, 2012 3:29 p.m.

    there wont be a next gen console before 2014 (wii u is current gen btw, just veeeery late)
  • CH3BURASHKA - January 31, 2012 12:34 p.m.

    Dammit, just missed the Dinosaur Penis offramp... guess we're turning around, kids!
  • RedHarlow - January 31, 2012 10:18 a.m.

    "Rumor free" -> The entire article is speculation and hearsay.
  • ClusterShart - January 31, 2012 10:04 a.m.

    Well, you can't really consider it the next gen, just hardware upgrades. From what has been released, the Xboxwhatever doesn't even look like it will be able to play modern PC games, let alone at 1080p without cutting more than a few corners. I don't even know if Sony will have enough money to produce another console.
  • sam-street - January 31, 2012 9:52 a.m.

    David, I normally enjoy your articles but christ! Next gen consoles coming, 100% rumour free based on just the facts? This entire article was complete speculation! Reading between the lines will give you the real answer? So the fact that Kaz Hirai himself has said on record that Sony will categorically not be showing PS4 this E3 or that's it's coming anytime soon is trumped by reading between the lines? I'll stick to the facts in this case.
  • ZhugeLiang - January 31, 2012 9:12 a.m.

    "...lolloping along the track behind its big two rivals again like a tired dog with ever-shortening legs." Damn, Dave. That's some Byronian shit. As far as the photograph/screenshot comparison of the lighting engine goes, it looks impressive, but I'd be more interested in a comparison at a much, much higher resolution.
  • CaptCOMMANDO - January 31, 2012 9 a.m.

    I bet 5$ through PayPal to everyone* that SkraightSkreet will post in this articles comments and start some crap. *I will not really send money to anyone.
  • ultimatepunchrod - January 31, 2012 8:48 a.m.

    First party games ARE NOT drying up on PS3. They just all came out in 2011. There's nothing left for 2012 except Sly 4, (maybe) the Last of US, and Twisted Metal. But look at what came out in 2011: Uncharted 3, Littlebigplanet 2, Infamous 2, Resistance 3, Ratchet and Clank all 4 one, Motorstorm Apocalypse, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus collection, God of War origins collection, Killzone 3, Socom 4, and there are even more, but the rest just aren't that good. I liked the article, but that entry made no sense.
  • Barnsley Pal - January 31, 2012 10:31 a.m.

    I think you are missing his point. He means that the amount of future PS3 exclusives are drying up. It doesn't matter how many exclusives they have released in the past. He is not suggesting that Sony are not making future exclusives, but that the majority of those in development are still unannounced and for the next generation hardware.
  • AwesomeMan - January 31, 2012 7:34 a.m.

    As an Xbox gamer, I could use a bit of an upgrade in terms of power under the hood. I'm interested to see if they'll put a Blu-ray disc drive in the new Xbox, DVD's won't last forever. Also, whatever next Battlefield game comes out better have more than BS 24 player support on consoles! 64 preferably...32 the BARE MINIMUM!
  • ThisIsMyFuckingThirdAccount - January 31, 2012 8:52 a.m.

    No Blu-Ray. Maybe they'll bring HD-DVD back for games?
  • SalvadorZombie - January 31, 2012 6:33 a.m.

    Good, interesting article. Seemed a little rushed with all of the structural errors, but there were some interesting points.
  • taokaka - January 31, 2012 6:12 a.m.

    I think sony should wait for the ps4 otherwise the vita will lose support and will end up like the psp. But I can see the positives of new hardware, mostly first party studios will be able to make even sexier games while most third parties continue to make games that look like you've rubbed Vaseline in your eyes in comparison. Also to all the PC elitist people that will comment saying stuff like consoles are for noob casual gamers, real hardcore super gamers have PCs with nine motherboards and can anti-alias the anti-aliasing in games, etc etc, I just have this to say http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=790ZFq6fbaM
  • LEGOMatrix - January 31, 2012 5:44 a.m.

    This article has gotten me all excited for a Last Of The Summer Wine game!

Showing 1-20 of 25 comments

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