It’s worth noting that game consoles always lag behind the PC in performance. That’s because console makers have to lock in on a design a couple of years ahead of the launch and then give that specification to game developers so they make launch titles. The custom chip takes a while to design, and it can be engineered better than a general-purpose PC to run games.
But PC makers have the advantage of just taking the fastest off-the-shelf graphics chip and marrying it with other state-of-the-art components. They can build a more modern machine that isn’t based on last year’s technology. So it’s no surprise that a new Nvidia graphics chip with expensive PC trappings will be able to run circles around game consoles that haven’t launched yet.
This highlights what I view as a fundamental problem with the console business going forward. While smartphones and tablets are eating into gaming from the low-end, Microsoft and the other console makers are aiming for the high end. But that high end already won’t really be the high end by the time the console launches because you’ll be able to get PCs that are more powerful.
Sure, such PCs may not be specifically tailored for gaming, but that gives the consoles maybe a few months — a year at best — as the pinnacle of high end gaming. Meanwhile, the smartphones and tablets will continue to evolve at a much more rapid pace.
Said another way: the last console upgrade cycle was 7 years. In 7 years, we’ll have seen 7 new iterations of the iPad. Does anyone think the 2020 iPad won’t stack up well against the Xbox One when it comes to specs? If so, you’re crazy. The 2015 iPad will probably stack up pretty well.
That means Microsoft will have to release another new Xbox much sooner than they did in the last cycle. But as Takahashi notes, the reason the hardware is already dated by the time it comes out is that it takes a lot of time to make these systems. And a lot of money. So…
Only three? They couldn’t squeeze a few more in there?
Seriously though, this part seems pretty key, as relayed by Sharif Sakr:
In terms of whether apps will be cross-compatible between the regular Windows Store and the storefront accessed by the new console, we’re told they won’t. Developers will have to do a bit of work to make a Windows app suitable for the Xbox One, not least in terms of tuning their UI for Kinect or the wireless controller. But Microsoft’s engineers told us that the underlying similarity between Windows 8/RT and Windows for the Xbox should make this a pretty easy feat for coders.
The long-term success of the Xbox One could very well ride on this alone. Third-party apps and games are something that all the console makers have dropped the ball on big time. And it’s not yet clear that they’re still not dropping that ball. But someone is going to nail this.
While everyone else was scrambling to get stories written as quickly as possible following the Xbox One unveiling, Wired’s Peter Rubin got the “exclusive” early look. And Wired’s presentation is quite nice.
I’m still not sure what to think of the new Xbox. Certainly, Microsoft did a better job presenting it to the world than Sony did a few weeks back with the Playstation 4. But even Rubin’s thoughtful walk-through makes the whole thing sound fairly complicated. I’m still just not sure that tablets and smartphones haven’t changed the gaming and living room space more than any of the old guard in the console arena cares to admit. (Though it’s looking like Nintendo will have to sooner rather than later.)
I had both the original Xbox and the Xbox 360. Overall, I found them to be solid systems with a number of UI/UX frustrations that I simply don’t think I have the patience for anymore. And then, of course, the red ring of death. Maybe Microsoft has greatly improved the experience here. We’ll see.
Certainly some of the new Kinect stuff sounds interesting. But the “wow” factor of the first Kinect seemed to subside faster than anyone thought it would. Just like the Wii before it. I’ll take simplicity and great user experience over something that gives good demo any day.
With that in mind, I’m still more optimistic about whatever Apple brings to the table here whether it’s later this year or early next year. Surprise, surprise, I know. But there is zero chance I’m going to deal with IR-blasters to have a “seamless” experience.
Mike Tyson, when asked who he views as a real-life version of the Glass Joe character from the 1987 NES game Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! — number three on ESPN’s best sports video games of all time.
I used to play it with the Power Glove.
Do you think consoles in general are doomed, then? Serious question. I don't play games much so I don't really have a horse in this race. I think asking Nintendo to make games for iOS – a platform that doesn't have any traditional game controls to speak of – is too farfetched right now. If Apple suddenly started selling an Apple TV with a game controller in the box, well then ...
Asked by brad-t
Not necessarily. But I think the market for gaming-only consoles has peaked. That’s why it’s smart for Xbox and Playstation to focus more on all forms of entertainment in the living room.
Console gaming will long have its die-hards. But casual gamers already far outnumber them. I think focusing on a dedicated gaming controller is the wrong way to think about it. Apple already has controllers in the shape of iPhones and iPads. Maybe a slightly re-worked iPod touch does come with a television device one day. But all they really need to do is open up an SDK for the Apple TV and the flood of games will follow.
Asked by brad-t
I, of course, realize this. But I don’t view the situations as all that similar. Apple fell because it was mismanaged over several years. Nintendo has fallen because the world has simply changed around them very rapidly. (Remember how insanely popular the Wii was just a few years ago?) And it’s not going back.
They need to become the Pixar of the gaming world — another company which focused on hardware once upon a time.
The Japan Times:
Nintendo Co. is trying to modify its game consoles so customers can use smartphone applications on them as it searches for a way to return to profitability, company sources said.
Yeah, that won’t work. But you know what will? Doing the opposite: putting the excellent Nintendo games on smartphones.