The Shortened Lifespan of Video Game Consoles
Well, I finally have a break from class, huzzah! While stressing over finals and such my one driving thought was that once it’s finished I can finally get back to the stack of games I was in the middle of. Games like South Park Stick of Truth and Wolf Among Us. Games for my 360 that I immediately discovered is no longer operational. Now I’m extremely disappointed and all I can think about is how my Super NES is probably still alive and kicking as I type this. So what happened to cause this redr-ing-less tragedy?
First of all, there’s the obvious fact that modern video game consoles are capable of far more than their ancestors. High definition graphics, online play, and downloading capabilities are all pretty big demands for our little entertainment boxes and require much more power and moving parts. This, of course, also adds more things that can go fatally wrong with a system. Back in the day simply blowing into a game cartridge took care of most problems but today we have hard drives, disc lasers, cooling fans and all sorts of other things that can get gunked up or rattled loose. To tinker with any of these things to try and fix the issues we also have to be as delicate as surgeons because…
Modern video game consoles are dainty. Oh sure they seem like big heavy behemoths of fun but I dare you to drop a PlayStation 3 and NES from 3 ft up. Odds are you’ll have a nice PlayStation shaped paperweight while you play Super Mario Bros. While some of this can be attributed to the points I made in the previous paragraph, the sad truth is that manufacturers simply aren’t building these things to be tough. These days video game consoles are kind of a big deal, but that wasn’t always true. Early video game consoles had to fight to carve their spot in the consumer world and they couldn’t have done that by breaking easily. People wanted stuff built to last, especially at those prices. Today, however, it seems like everyone has at least one video game console in their house and the things sell like hotcakes every time a new one comes out. Couple the popularity of video games in general with the rise in pre-ordering and you have no reason to spend as much money making these toys capable of withstanding an ill-conceived game of kickball. This is as much our fault as the companies’ fault. We demand things faster and faster and fail to wait around to see if the items are of good quality while manufacturers feed on pre-orders and skimp on durability. That’s not all they do to shorten the lifespan of their video game consoles, however.
That’s right, companies actually want their products to die on us. You know how every time a new iPhone comes out, the ones before perform worse and worse? That’s intentional, and it happens with more than just phones. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, when a new video game console comes out, so do updates for the previous ones. They’ll require you to download the updates if you want to play, but it’s those same updates that limit your ability to do so. They either disable most of your machine’s features or bog it down with useless space-wasting garbage it can’t use because it’s actually meant only for the latest video game console that just released. My original Xbox actually lasted a long time because it was made in a time where the companies still tried to make hearty devices where Internet connections weren’t required to play single-player games. It’s only started showing signs of aging this past year.
These tactics do well to thwart people like me, the “if it’s not broken I don’t need to replace it yet” type, by helping ensure their products will, in fact, behave shoddy shortly after they release their newest version. This has obviously terrible side effects like shorter time spans between new releases and less innovation with each new wave. It also ticks me off that they’re not doing much for backward compatibility, meaning that not only do I have an XB1 but I STILL need a 360 to finish my other games. Bring back quality!