In the fall of 2005, Microsoft launched the Xbox 360. While their debut system, the Xbox, failed to come close to dethroning the mighty PlayStation 2, Microsoft brought the 360 to market first, helping to give their system an advantage. It worked: If you wanted to play the latest and greatest game, you needed an Xbox 360. But their previous system, the Xbox, was essentially abandoned. Sure, you could still play Halo 2 on Xbox Live, but if you wanted a new game, you had to buy a new console.
Nintendo did the same thing last year with the release of the Wii U. If you wanted to play Pikmin 3, you needed to buy a Wii U. The once unstoppable behemoth that was the Wii was now essentially dead in the water. Other than Pandora’s Tower, gamers wouldn’t see another worthwhile Wii game come close to releasing.
Flash forward to today, where the release of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are right around the corner. Their arrival will bring an end to the days of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, right?
Amongst the glitz and glamor of the next-generation, developers are singing familiar refrains. “Look for it on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 this holiday season.” OK, so it should be expected that a game that’s releasing at the end of this year, i.e. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Watch Dogs, and Call of Duty: Ghosts, would appear on every console it possibly could. But this is a continuing trend. Destiny is coming to current and next-gen consoles when it launches in 2014. Titanfall will appear on Xbox 360. Gran Turismo 6, a game many thought would be a surefire PS4 launch title, will be released on the PS3.
Sony fans will find none of this new. PS2 support continued after the PS3 was released. Plus, Sony mentioned that they had a ten-year plan for the PS3. While many scoffed, the PlayStation 3 is in its seventh year of existence. Don’t be surprised to see it hang around for three more years. But the continued support of the Xbox 360 is a new move from Microsoft. Many were surprised when they announced another redesign for the console at E3 a few weeks ago. After that, the hits for the 360 just kept coming: World of Tanks, Madden’s new blocking engine was present in the 360 version of the game (though the graphics looked baaaad), Diablo III officially coming to the console (we reported this back in March, but Activision/Blizzard recently confirmed it), and next-gen games coming to the console (Titanfall, Garden Warfare). The Xbox 360 isn’t going away, which is good news for my friend who just bought one.
Now, I can already hear the audible reactions from the peanut gallery. “He just bought an Xbox 360?! That’s like, the worst possible time!” But see, my friend isn’t like you or me. He’s a professor at local universities, works a few nights serving tables, and has a wife and kids. While he doesn’t hide his affection for nerdy pastimes, they’re far from his top priority. Yes, he’s extremely late jumping into the current-gen gaming world, but he’ll be able to pick up a lot of great games for cheap. If he’s so inclined to, he also won’t be missing out on a lot of great games coming in the future. That’s an option that wasn’t available for Xbox owners.
One can only hope that the continued support for the PS3 and Xbox 360 will continue. Yes, the number of games coming to the platforms will undoubtedly continue to shrink as we enter 2014, but think about it for a second: If they’re still selling, the big hits will still come. With the high price tag for the Xbox One and the memory of the PS3’s post-launch woes fresh in the mind of gamers, there may be many people who are hesitant to be early adopters. Unlike the last generation, those who choose not to move on right away to the next level of consoles won’t miss out on everything.