I haven’t been convinced I need a new video game console

I’m going to tempt fate and say that we’re about close enough to the release of Sony and Microsoft’s new consoles that we pretty much know what we’re going to be getting on day one. Well, we don’t know how much we’re going to have to pay for them just yet, but for the sake of argument, let’s say the price isn’t going to be a factor in the following rant. With everything we do know, I don’t think either of the major console makes have done a good enough job on selling their new platforms whatsoever.

Ever since we got the official announcement that we were going to be getting new consoles this calendar year, I’ve been in a constant state of indecision about what I want to do when they hit stores and are right there to be held in my big meaty paws. Not being a hardcore graphics/performance elitist, the main deciding factor that’s drawn me to one console over another are the games they have been offering.

I’m not immune to the appeal of fantastic looking games, don’t get me wrong. Would I like like Ray tracing and locked 60 fps to be a constant of my gaming experience, sure I would. Is it essential to my gaming experience, absolutely not.

I just want to experience those stories and have those gameplay experiences. I equate it to going to see a movie at a regular cinema instead of an IMAX screen, or whacking on a DVD instead of a Blu-Ray. Sure, the experience is marginally reduced compared to how it could be, but it ultimately doesn’t impact my enjoyment of the media I’m consuming, which is the reason I’m in the game in the first place.

I haven't been convinced I need a new video game console

Just to establish where I’m coming from in terms of this whole “pick a side” debate. I value the quick and easy solution, I just want to buy a machine, plug it in and never really have to think about touching it again. Unfortunately, the quick and easy solution now comes with a decision point between the two major players who’re competing right now. And in the buildup to the new generation, I’ve actually found myself been flip-flopping between the two devices.

After a lot of thinking, I’ve basically boiled my choice between the PS5 and the XboX to a single decision point: Do I want to play Sony’s exclusives (Mainly comes down to Ratchet & Clank at this exact moment) or continue to be invested in Game Pass and what an absurdly good deal that it.

While I was all loaded up choice one of those consoles, I started to pay a little more attention to the neutral discourse. The talk that doesn’t come from people who seem weirdly invested in one side over the other. I realised that most of the games I do want to play on these new consoles aren’t even going to be coming out on day one anyway, in fact many of them probably aren’t going to see the light of day till six months down the line.

On top of that, a lot of these games that are going to be coming out on the newer devices are going to be straddling that line between them, coming out on both. While ultimately still being games that were developed and designed with the currently available machines in mind. Sure there are plans in place for people to upgrade these games onto the newer platforms as they buy them, but as I made clear in my DVD comparison, that really doesn’t bother me.

I haven't been convinced I need a new video game console

If I can play Halo: Infinite (not really the best example, but it was the first one to pop into my head) on my Xbox One X, why do I even need to play it again on the newer consoles afterwards? I personally don’t see the necessity. But maybe that’s the problem. Maybe there is a real difference between these games that would even compel me to want to upgrade sooner rather than later.

But at the end of the day, I really don’t know what I might be missing out on, and I think that’s a good portion of the problem I’m having with this generational transition. Neither Sony or Microsoft have done a particularly effective job of selling them to me. Which is a big failing on their part, but it’s not like I can really blame them. From what I understand, the newer consoles have much more going on about them than a simple graphical bump.

As technology increases, the jump between generations has become one of diminishing returns. At least to the untrained eye anyway.

The jump between Super Mario World and Super Mario 64, and then from 64 to something like the first Ratchet and Clank on Ps2 is pretty easy to identify as impressive, but the jumps got smaller with each generation. At this point, there are current games running on a super powerful PC that look better than anything I’ve seen come out of the newer upcoming consoles.

I haven't been convinced I need a new video game console

I think the issue is that developers know there is only so much of a graphical jump the new consoles can make, and pushing that isn’t really the thing they want to focus on anyway when it comes to these new games. By all accounts, the newer consoles are all about processing speed, faster load times and ultra quick transitions. More of a series of quality of life changes rather than purely pumping more horsepower into the machines.

Those things all sound amazing, the problem being though that they’re also not all that sexy to the layman that still needs to make up a significant portion of both company’s sales figures. Which I get, but there are still a significant group of people out there who would appreciate that information being shared and lauded. Those same people probably are going to word of mouth market how good the new consoles look without Sony or Microsoft having to pay those marketing dollars for it.

They’re not doing it though, the information is simply not being put out there. None of which is helped by the fact that there has been no E3 this year. Which means all of these announcements have had to be streamed online, which is certainly hampering how good you can make these games look when you’re getting bottlenecked by internet streaming quality. You can’t guarantee the eyeballs seeing your games are seeing in the best possible light.

And that’s a big marketing nono in this world of reactionary internet criticism. But, a fear of not showing the game on their own terms means that we don’t really know what we’re getting from these new machines right now, and as of right now I can’t see any good reason to buy on this year. So yeah, we got there eventually.

I haven't been convinced I need a new video game console

And I’m cool with that. I’m happy waiting 6 months or so to make my eventual choice about which direction I’ll go first. Because let’s be real, I’m more than likely going to get both consoles eventually like I do every generation.

But between the pandemic, the fact that the new consoles seem to be focusing on more than simple graphical power in the generation jump and the fact that super beefy PCs are just purely outstripping them right from the word go, this console release is a very different one. I’d still like to think there is a chance I could get wowed and change my mind. Although I struggle to envision it.

Of course I’m not saying anyone reading this should do the same. In fact, I’d say everyone out there should buy one of these consoles as soon as possible so that the industry doesn’t shit a brick and think this is a failed console release or something. Like with most things, I want to let everyone else do the donkey work and let me reap the benefits a few months down the road. Thanks lads.

3 thoughts on “I haven’t been convinced I need a new video game console

  1. Speaking of the smaller and smaller marginal improvements in graphics and processing for console games — it could just be me being crazy, but I feel like we’re getting closer to the next logical step being augmented/virtual reality devices that offer a truly immersive and pleasant experience. I know the technology sort of exists right now and is still being worked on, but all I’ve seen and played of it so far have been 1) games that have given me motion sickness and 2) Beat Saber. I’m confident that the technology will keep improving and getting cheaper, though.

    Not that I’m any expert. I’m not taking a side in PS5 vs. XboX either; I’m sticking to my plan to buy a Switch for its library.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never really played any VR stuff for more than a few minutes at a time. But honestly, I think the biggest thing holding people back from it is having the space that it requires. Especially when most of audience for that kind of thing is also the group least likely to be living in a smaller home because the housing market is a nightmare to get onto these days.

      The Switch is already a great investment though. I’m finding I’m playing it more than any of my other consoles these day.

      Liked by 1 person

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