Nothing New Till 2014?
While Nintendo will likely be launching a new console in 2012, Microsoft and Sony will wait two additional years, according to a recent onslaught of rumors and anonymous sources.
Obviously, by 2014, the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 will be quite old by console standards. Why would they wait so long? I have a few ideas.
One is that Move and Kinect can be seen, in a way, to count as a console generation in themselves. These peripherals open up the Xbox and PlayStation to a whole new style of gameplay, and will hopefully prolong the machines' lives by a few years. In this economy, lots of consumers will prefer to buy upgrades rather than full-on replacements.
Another reason could be that there's really no competitive pressure to upgrade, at least not yet. Microsoft and Sony already added motion controls to compete with the Wii, and it remains to be seen whether Nintendo's new console will do anything beyond upgrading the Wii's processing power to match what Sony and Microsoft already have. Supposedly, the new Wii will be "significantly" more powerful than the PS3, but I'll believe that when I see it.
Another reason is that as processing power improves, games get more expensive to develop—after all, the more polygons that can be displayed at once, the more hours that need to be spent telling all those polygons what to do. A single programmer made Tetris; Mark Rein of Epic Games once bragged that Gears of War was cheap at $10 million. Grand Theft Auto IV cost $100 million. The greatest games of the current generation that didn't break the bank—Braid, for instance—don't even come close to using all the available processing power. Evidently, the PS3 still has "headroom" that developers aren't using. So, why rush to put out a console that's even more expensive to take advantage of?
Finally, new consoles have traditionally been money-losers for Microsoft and Sony. Those companies tend to see consoles and games the way a business might see razors and replacement blades, or printers and ink cartridges: If you sell the hardware at a loss, you can attract lots of customers and make money selling accessories. Rumor has it that the suits are deciding whether to stick with this business model, or emulate Nintendo's strategy with the Wii, which was profitable from the get-go.
At any rate, this is a high-stakes game. Video-game history is littered with the carcasses of businesses that failed a console or two: Of the three major companies alive today, only Nintendo was making game consoles twenty years ago. Former giants SEGA and Atari have resigned themselves to making games for other consoles. Now that the current generation has played out—HD graphics and motion controls are the major innovations—consumers will want something fresh and exciting, not just the same old machines on steroids. I can't wait to see what's next.
The $170 Wii Ripoff
For some reason or other, modern Grand Theft Auto games and Nintendo consoles just don't go together. The Grand Theft Auto III trilogy never made it to Gamecube, and Grand Theft Auto IV was too much for the Wii's processors to handle. The only exception thus far has been the DS's Chinatown Wars.
According to the rumor mill, however, Rockstar was the first developer to receive a kit for the console that Nintendo will (also according to rumor) announce at E3 this year. Does this mean that the next GTA will be available on three different platforms, or will this game be a Nintendo exclusive?
I have no idea, but the sheer possibilities that will come from combining GTA with motion controls (not to mention the giant touch screens the Wii 2's controllers will supposedly have) is making my head hurt. Here's to hoping that the Big N won't make Rockstar hold back on the inappropriate content.
Grand Theft Auto V + Wii 2 = ?
As the rumored $150 price point for the Wii looms ever closer, some stores have slashed their prices to $170. To customers who know that they can wait a few more weeks and (almost certainly) save $20, this is no big deal. They can just wait. But to everyone else, it's a big ripoff.
If you don't have a Wii by now, you don't want one very much, and you probably don't follow video-game news. There's a good chance that you'll see an ad for a $170 Wii and think it's a great deal—which, I bet, is what retailers are going for. Once the price cut hits, all the Wiis that stores hoped to sell for $200 will be worth no more than $150, so they're cutting their losses by $20 per console by taking advantage of the uninformed.
Hey, I don't blame them, necessarily. It's their business to make money. But this is not exactly a consumer-friendly move.
CCC Freelance Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*