Xbox One And PS4: Too Little, Far Too Late
2013 marks the most turbulent year for the gaming industry in nearly a decade, with the announcements of Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One. On the outside, gamers appear to be revelling at the new consoles, trading motherly insults over the internet whilst sipping their Mountain Dew in anticipation. On the inside, a rather more somber tone looms, the new platforms feeling like an expensive gesture that has simply come too late. Much has changed in the 8 or so years since the Xbox 360 and PS3 were born. People have aged, franchises have evolved, target markets have switched, and ultimately, economic turmoil has leached everyone of their disposable income. It's capitalism, it's understandable that the technology behemoths would sell their product for the highest value to the most devout fans, in a bid to earn a bit of additional cash margin. Though being the marketing juggernauts they are, you'd have expected Microsoft and Sony to offer a more varied range of purchase for the consoles. Only last year did Microsoft begin a credit system involving a £99 deposit for an Xbox 360, and 12 low monthly payments to nap yourself the console and the benefits of Xbox Live Gold. Many believed this to be the predecessor of a similar system for the One. Can't afford it outright? No bother, just pay monthly on an open contract. No such thing exists. It's £429, take it or leave it. Sony on the other hand have undercut the Xbox One by a generous £80 in the UK, in addition to the free ability to lend games, it lacks an online authentication system the Xbox sports. To many, checking in online isn't a big deal, we're always online. To some, it's an impractical Orwellian approach to a system that for all accounts, it's designed for pleasure and not surveillance. Though recent NSA and 'PRISM' revelations would lead you to believe otherwise. Any company seeking to release products on this scale should realistically be aware of the demand for the product. Clearly, that's not always the case. As we've steadily approach the inevitable death of this cycle, block buster games have become fewer and fewer, and subsequently, demand for the daddy platform has drained. From personal experience, the height of gaming popularity was around 2006/2007 when Halo and Call of Duty actually competed for the attention of the player. Now, Call of Duty is an almighty laughing cash cow, and the fans all know it. We don't discuss Halo, following the boring 4th in the series. Unsurprisingly, demand has redirected itself towards the likes of Steam, famous for it's impressive deals and offerings on some of the most popular games of all time. Whether the new consoles will offer similar deals on a routine basis is yet to be seen, but I won't hold my breath on it when in 2012, Microsoft considers Halo 3 worth £29.99 on it's Xbox Marketplace. Gaming conglomerates are often accused of milking not just franchises, but often the consumer as well. EA, voted America's Worst Company 2 years in a row, knows all too well what the bane on consumer hatred can do for your reputation and sales. Though, their botched Mass Effect 3 ending helps to justify my anger. For all accounts, it would be unfair to cast Sony as an evil company in the same way you may Electronic Arts and Microsoft themselves. Sony have heeded the call of the gamer for an actual games console, not an overpriced C3PO that kills itself if it doesn't chat to the internet everyday. Regardless, both companies have offered too little, for too much, too long after the gaming boom of the early 21st century.