We all love video games. Every time a new console comes out we all get excited, consume all the interviews and streams we possibly can, then either pre-order as soon as possible or do everything we can to scrape the pennies and trade-ins together. But there’s also the people who are way too logged on who like to dump on everyone’s fun with doom and gloom before the boxes are even out. They go away after a while but then the inevitable happens, and the real problems present themselves. It’s inevitable; no matter how great the new console is eventually people notice the kinks. And sometimes those kinks linger, and we enter a cycle of headlines, yelling, and begging that please, please fix the one damn thing ya’ll haven’t fixed yet. Every system has them. So, let’s talk about them!
Let’s get PC out of the way first, because it’s a bit of a fringe case. Obviously PCs aren’t consoles, and in being modular there isn’t a lot of consistency to issues people run into. But! There are some things that do plague PC gamers over and over again, and developers are still trying to work out. For one, it’s still a rarity that a console-first game ends up on PC with an actual, robust set of performance, visual, or control options. This is especially true with a lot of Japanese games, where it’s sometimes a win to just get a handful of resolution options.
The second big issue is relatively new, but a huge problem with no end in sight. Thanks to bitcoin mining and other crypto services, the demand for graphics cards has exploded. Meanwhile, more and more games are pushing the visual limits, requiring purchasing said graphics cards to stay current. Empty shelves at stores and well over retail prices online are making things real difficult for the gamers.
“Shuhei, let us change our names,” is, at this point, the cry of the PlayStation lifer. Once you picked up that PS3 as a young child and entered “XxXSephiroth420XxX,” you didn’t realize you were signing a contract for life. Also, it’s still a huge pain to organize content on the PS4, with folders being a recent addition but everything is still tied to the awful Library gimmick, and it’s all just a mess compared to the XMB. Finally, good lord, why are PSOne classics still stuck on the older hardware? Perhaps it’s because the Vita failed, but the whole PlayStation ecosystem thing that was going on last-gen is in tatters. It’s real sad.
Ok, first and foremost, yo, let’s get some first party software. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, I will trade my life savings for a GUI that isn’t a terrifying abomination. I hate turning my Xbox One X on because, despite how good it feels to play games on, getting there is a mess. The home screen is a digital disaster, and the settings and navigations are a mess too. It’s just turgid and ugly all the way through, which is a shame because the hardware itself is pretty sleek now. Also, if you don’t have the X, you have to deal with Xbox One games being underpowered due to the built-in Kinect power-drain, which is something that you’ll have to look into on a per game basis. Whoops!
As cool as the Switch is, it has some serious problems. Over a year after release, we still can’t back our saves up. Nintendo has been pretty quiet on the issue too, barely acknowledging people want it. God forbid if you drop the thing outside, you know, half the point of it. Getting a repair is a nightmare scenario right now, because when you get it back, there’s no guarantee it will come with all your save data intact. Also, we’re running into big issues with cart storage. Cartridges are expensive still, and publishers have to front the cost. That’s leading to a lot of Switch games being more expensive than on other consoles. It’s also leading to bigger games shipping with required downloads, because the publishers don’t want to pony up for the higher-capacity carts. It’s understandable, but you end up with a game with a hideous sticker on the front so customers don’t miss the need to download, and the idea of game preservation for Switch titles right now is a joke.
There you have it: the biggest problems with each of the current consoles. These are issues that may never be resolved, that we’ll have to wait and see if they get figured out for the next generation. We’re several years in now, and generally speaking that means what’s there is there at this point, because firmware updates can only do so much. That said, with our new half-step wave on consoles, we’re seeing companies more willing to offer multiple SKUs at disparate price points, with much less subtle differences despite the matching game libraries. We’ll see what happens, but I’m just glad my PSN name isn’t too embarrassing.