A world without games consoles
Sony’s news of a brand new next-generation console should be far more exciting than Microsoft’s revision of an existing machine, but it doesn’t feel that way to me.
Sony says the PlayStation 5 (when it arrives, which won’t be this year) will have 8K graphics, ray tracing, SSD storage for faster loading, and it’ll play PS4 games, too. This is all good stuff, but it just feels like buying a new gaming PC with bumped-up specs. Meh. They already released a more powerful version of the PS4 – this is just another upgrade.
Another of the reason I’m not that excited by the PlayStation 5 is that it will play games on discs. The most exciting thing about the current console generation was when Microsoft nearly made the Xbox One a machine focused on digital downloads and Kinect motion control. It felt like they were doing something truly different and bold.
But for a bunch of people who often play games that look to sci-fi futures, many of the world’s most vocal gamers are a small-c conservative bunch. They don’t like much in the way of change unless they lead it. So Microsoft walked back many of the best ideas in the Xbox One and turned it into a much more traditional console.
That’s why the new Xbox One S, which has no disc drive, is more interesting. It points to a future for gaming that’s free of physical media – a future that allows you to log in and play your games on whatever machine you happen to be using.
Let’s face it, even when you buy games on physical discs these days, you have to download an enormous update file before you can play, so why not go the whole hog and embrace the always-on, connected future of gaming?
I’m sure Sony will have plenty more to share about the PlayStation 5 over time that will make it a more compelling proposition, but I feel like I’m over traditional consoles. I’m ready for the next thing.
And in the not-too-distant future, we won’t need consoles anyway. Google’s forthcoming Stadia
points to a world where you can play the best games anywhere you have an internet connection and a screen. And then why will we need Xbox and PlayStation as brands? Will they simply become ‘stores’ like Steam on PC? Or will they disappear as new names take over as hubs and discovery engines for the games we play?
Either way, I doubt we’ll see a PlayStation 6 in any form we’d recognise today.