It doesn’t feel like next-gen consoles have arrived

Feb 14, 2021

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By now you know it has been incredibly difficult for gamers to acquire supposed next-gen consoles and GPUs. Between scalpers, short supply, and even some big-box retailer employees putting themselves at the front of the line - gamers are struggling to get their hands on the lastest from Sony, Microsoft, and NVIDIA.

As it happens, there is more to the situation than just access to the technology. The question I ask is, where are the games? In other words, were I to get my hands on any next-gen hardware, I would hardly know what to do with it.

When I started GWW in 2010, one of my goals was to bring like-minded gamers together. We have blossomed into a community for everyone - comicbook fans, consumer tech nerds <raises hand>, and more. Really, if you love anything geeky you will find a home in our Discord server. While my personal interests have matured these past eleven years, I still have my ear to the ground and combine my experience as a business professional to bring this community the best insights I can. In this case, it is to level-set on where we are with “next-gen.”

If you own any current-gen hardware, you have the very best games these same manufacturers have to offer. And without outstanding exclusives, I cannot personally justify the effort to run out and acquire a new console. You can read here a list of exclusives currently available and announced for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, respectively.

For PC gamers, the RTX 3000 series does not represent access to games the RTX 2000 series (or even the GTX 1000 series) cannot already support. So any point about “exclusives” is moot.

Returning to the consoles, the technology is interesting, and will be improved in quick order. Microsoft and Sony have consistently released smaller and better-looking versions of their consoles within two-to-three years of release. Eventually, there will be exclusives as developers observe a large enough installed-base of next-gen console owners to justify releasing a game exclusively for either PS5 or Xbox Series X/S. According to an article posted on Slashgear, next-gen console sales have nearly mirrored their last-gen counterparts. However, sales, geographical, are not identical in major markets such as the United States where high-consumption gamers reside. In the case of the Xbox Series X/S, Microsoft are selling into three-times as many markets as with the Xbox One. Thus, consoles sales are not as hot as they may appear. Leaving developers to choose between the massive installed base of PS4 and Xbox One gamers, and these new, hard-to-get next-gen consoles.

Certainly, I am not a developer. But, as a businessman, I question which market to play in. On the one hand, current-gen consoles and PC-marketplaces such as Steam areĀ flooded with games. There are absolutely too many games and it can be difficult to find something to play that you would find fun and worth the money. On the other hand, developing for next-gen consoles is more expensive.

Which returns me to my original point: it will take exclusive games that are so worth playing they motivate gamers to wait through digital lines and try to beat the scalpers. On the PC side, it will take a game so demanding, it compells GTX 1000 or RTX 2000 owners to do the same in an attempt to get an RTX 3000 series GPU.

Meanwhile, for PC gamers, an RTX 2060, both desktop and laptop version, is a capable card. Gamers can enjoy games like Cyberflunkpunk at decent settings, in 1080p resolution. Sure, 120+ FPS and 1440p or 4K would amazing, but not necessary and only appeal to a small portion of gamers who have interest to achieving such specs. According to Steam’s monthly hardware survey, 66% of gamers still use 1080p resolution and roughly 30% of gamers are still using GTX 1000 series GPUs.

Primarily, I play PC games or my Switch. But I have owned a PS4 and PS4 Pro since launch. Games like Ghost of Tsushima, God of War, and Spiderman defined one of the best consoles of all time. Unlike PC, consoles can more easily be defined in generational terms. For PCs, generations are defined by game engines, but this is not a smooth, linear line and there are multiple engines to consider. I digress. When the PS4 launched, I did not foresee such great games but I was motivated by Killzone: Shadowfall, which is a fantastic game. For PS5, instead of exclusive game, Sony has taken a PC-like approach. For example, Bloodborne and Spiderman: Miles Morales are best on PS5, but also available on PS4.

Next-gen consoles feel like they have soft-launched. The consoles are kind of available and the games worth playing are not locked to them. Meanwhile, we have current-gen consoles to enjoy, and we should, for as long as we can.

If you would like to discuss this, hit me up on our Discord server.

Have you seen this:
Change My Mind #98: Wonder Woman 1984
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