Anyone who has been watching the gaming media this spring has seen a ton of talk about the next generation of home consoles. Nintendo kicked things off when information about Project Café, the successor to the Wii, leaked out. Since then, it seems like gaming publications can't shut up about the next generation, and what the Big Three have in store for us over the next few years. The next generation talk is great for spilling ink and filling web space, but why are we in such a rush?
Portable gaming is going into the next generation, and it's probably time for it to do so. The Nintendo DS is aging, and Nintendo needed to introduce a new console with better graphics and a more solid online experience. The 3D nature of the new console was icing on the cake, and the 3DS is likely to repeat the same slow burn success that the original DS had.
In the meantime, Sony's PSP is doing quite well in Japan but rather poorly in North America. With the 3DS creating so much buzz, it's no surprise that Sony announced the NGP. However, it's not quite clear how Sony plans to correct the mistakes of the past and make the NGP more appealing outside of Japan.
Similarly, it's time for Nintendo to leap forward into HD with a new home console. The Wii may have captured the fickle hearts of the casual market at launch, but sales have dropped off and third-party developers have grown weary of downgrading their graphics whenever they want to put a multiplatform release on the Wii. Project Café should fix those problems and lure back some core gamers with better graphics and a stronger control scheme.
So the time has come for a new generation for a few pieces of hardware, but is it really time for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to give way to a new generation? It's true that it's shaping up to be an unusually long hardware generation, but is that a problem? The long generation has given game developers room to breathe and time to learn how to make the most of current technology. Graphics technology is advancing slower these days, so while there's certainly still room for improvement, the change to the next generation isn't going to be nearly as graphically obvious as this one is. The Kinect and Move were just launched last year, and are just hitting their stride in terms of sales and available games. It seems best for both the hardware producers and game developers to lengthen this generation even more.
A long hardware generation can be good for gamers, too. It forces game developers to innovate rather than to re-release the same basic games with prettier coats of paint. It gives breathing room to developers who specialize in long or complex games like RPGs or unique hybrids like L.A. Noire. It's also easier on our wallets—do we really feel the need to spend several hundred dollars on a new console so soon?
Heck, we should even keep an eye out for good gaming experiences for the DS, PSP, and Wii. It seems like such a waste to stop buying games for a piece of hardware just because a newer, shinier one is just around the corner. But many gamers fall prey to that line of thinking. Did the announcement of the NGP cause our PSPs to suddenly stop working? Certainly not. So why refuse to buy PSP games on the theory that the platform is dead? Consoles aren't like presidents; they don't have a lame duck period.
It's time for all of us to take a deep breath, slow down, and enjoy the great gaming experiences that this generation is still giving us. Sure, we can ooh and ahh over the next big thing during E3, but we shouldn't forget to love the consoles we've still got. They look nice, they control well, there are a ton of great games for them, and they're likely to be around for a few more years.
CCC Contributing 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.*