Are Next-Gen Consoles as Exciting as Previous Generations?
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I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the next generation of video game consoles lately, and I am sure I am not alone in that. And, certainly, I see people getting very excited online for the next generation. But I don’t feel as excited as I used to and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why that is. My friends are in the same boat. It passed my mind that, perhaps, we’re just getting old. Then it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, we are living in times that are so stressful that our natural enjoyment for video games is partially muted. But then I noticed by perusing Reddit and other forums that the enthusiasm for games in general is still very much present. So why is it that gamers seem less excited about the next generation this time around?

Well, I do think the times we live in contribute because why wouldn’t they? But, more than that, I think this is a matter of diminishing returns. When consoles made the jump from the Super Nintendo generation to the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation generation, it was a huge deal. Moving onto the GameCube and PlayStation 2 was even more impressive, simply from the standpoint of graphics.

Are graphics enough, though? There’s evidence that people still care about graphics, certainly. Games flout 4k resolutions at every opportunity. The 4K experience compared to the 1080p experience is technically better, but it’s more a matter of optimization -- it doesn’t amaze the way other leaps in visuals did. Developers have to work extremely hard to impress people with their realism. Beyond that, it’s usually a matter of style over tech that makes a game’s visuals stand out.

I am by no means saying that the next generation of consoles isn’t impressive. From a technical standpoint, they certainly are and faster load times and smoother gameplay is something I appreciate. But the current generation of consoles is also pretty amazing. Even the last generation of consoles has aged pretty nicely. Modern releases are of a consistent quality and it is hard to imagine how much they can improve outside of graphics in a way that is immediately exciting.

We all know there will be great games next generation. How could there not be? We’ve already seen glimpses of some that are full of potential. But the ways in which the developers will innovate, beyond graphics, largely remains unseen. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s a new experience, for me, to be looking forward to launch titles more than the consoles themselves. Are any of you feeling that way, too?

In the past, successive generations have also come along with a plethora of features. The leap to online gaming was a big one. The methods for connecting with friends became more and more intuitive as time went on. Multiplayer games became more complex. Cloud computing was introduced. Social networks were integrated. Streaming to an audience or watching films became a foregone conclusion.  

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I am by no means saying that the next generation of consoles isn’t impressive. From a technical standpoint, they certainly are and faster load times and smoother gameplay is something I appreciate. But the current generation of consoles is also pretty amazing. Even the last generation of consoles has aged pretty nicely. Modern releases are of a consistent quality and it is hard to imagine how much they can improve outside of graphics in a way that is immediately exciting.

We all know there will be great games next generation. How could there not be? We’ve already seen glimpses of some that are full of potential. But the ways in which the developers will innovate, beyond graphics, largely remains unseen. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s a new experience, for me, to be looking forward to launch titles more than the consoles themselves. Are any of you feeling that way, too?

Benjamin Maltbie
Benjamin Maltbie

Writing Team Lead
Date: 07/23/2020

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