There are always cross-gen titles around the first year of a new console cycle, but because of last gen’s extended length, such titles seem to be sticking around longer than normal. With the recent comments by Peter Moore over at EA that they’re going to support last-gen machines for at least another two to three years, we know this to be true.
At first glance, it may seem that there’s nothing wrong with this, but is that really the case?
I can’t help but think that developers having to create titles that can scale down to old hardware are being handicapped, and we’re not really getting the most out of these machines we just bought. We’re starting to see studios draw lines in the sand, like Rocksteady with Arkham Knight and Ubisoft developing both a current-gen and a last-gen AC game–both for release later this year–but not every studio or publisher has those resources, or the financial ability to say no. So, as a result, we have the Watch_Dogs and Dragon Age 3 ‘s of the world: titles that look really good, but not so good that they can’t be scaled down and published on the old hardware.
While this is great for a publisher’s bottom line–a game on more consoles means more possibilities for that game to sell–this also hurts games in the long term. First, it shows gamers and potential buyers of new hardware that there’s no need for the new consoles; everything they want, they can get on a cheaper console. Second, it leads to apathy on the parts of early adopters and those now taking the plunge. We’re already starting to see this. How many journalists, reviewers, and online personalities joke about having no need to turn on their current-gen systems?
It’s all a balancing act, and I can’t help but feel the industry is leaning a bit too far in one direction.