If you’ve been a console gamer for any length of time, you’ll have noticed that console releases tend to follow a similar pattern. A console would be released, it would then remain in operation for between six to eight years, before a new model would become available. The games for the original console would usually not be able to be played on the new console (Microsoft has since made strides to change this with their Backwards Compatibility scheme), the hardware would dry up, and gamers would transition to the new console.
However, things seem to be changing. The newest releases of the most popular consoles – The PlayStation 4 Neo and the Xbox One Scorpio (not forgetting the PS4 Slim and the Xbox One S), are set to be released within the next 12 months. Both new consoles will be able to play the games the current consoles can play, and as such aren’t being classed as a new generation. This is very similar to how gaming occurs on mobile phones.
The Tiered Console Platform and Mobile Gaming
When you play games on a mobile phone, you have two choices. For website based games, such as Bingo and Kingdom Rush, you can simply log onto the website via your browser. So long as your browser is compatible you can play straight away. The other option for mobile gamers is app based games like Pokémon Go and Candy Crush. These are usually downloaded via either the Google Play or the iOS store, depending on your phone. The type of phone that you have doesn’t matter when playing mobile games – all that matters is that your phone has, in most cases, the latest operating system or the compatible system requirements. You can play Pokémon Go just as easily on the iPhone 5c as you can on the new iPhone 7 for instance.
Now, in the past, this wasn’t possible with consoles. You couldn’t play your version of Fable II on an Xbox One unless Microsoft added it to Backwards Compatibility. You also couldn’t play the latest Halo game on your Xbox 360 – the games were tied to the console they were made for. The new consoles on the way, however, seem to be changing how things work.
Enter Neo and Scorpio
The PlayStation Neo, or PS4 Pro as it’s also been called, is set to be released on November 10th. The new console will have enhanced processing power and speed, and will offer 4K support for gaming as well as support for the PlayStation VR headset. Now to most people this might sound like a new generation of gaming, but Sony is adamant that current users of the PS4 will still be able to play their games on the new console, much in the same way that mobile phone games work.
It’s a similar story for Xbox Scorpio. Although this device is not set to be released until the latter end of 2017, Microsoft has also come out and said that Scorpio won’t be a new generation console. They want gamers to think of it as more like a family of devices where games from the Xbox One will be fully compatible with the new device. In fact, Dave McCarthy, the Head of Xbox Operations has said that Scorpio will wipe out the console generations with developers able to create games for the One, Scorpio and Windows 10 without any trouble.
What Does This Mean for the Future?
In the future, it’s very likely that there won’t be any distinct console generations. The main reason for this could may be because technology is moving so quickly and so it is easier for developers to build on the devices they already have rather than bringing out a whole new console every five years. On top of this, many people cannot afford to buy Day One consoles, and so will not be happy to find out that they console they just invested in is unable to play new games within one to two years of being purchased.
It definitely looks to us like consoles are becoming more like mobile phones with their tiers, but let us know what you think in the comments.