Holiday 2017 – Too Soon for New Consoles?

Project Scorpio 2I am not a fan of Neo or Project Scorpio. These ½ step consoles are the next iteration of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One promising greater graphic fidelity, VR integration and no impact to fans who enjoy the current models available of each system. They are positioned as the new, shiny best for the proper hardcore or VR supporters.

Which is a complicated mix-messaging I don’t believe – if the upcoming hardware is truly the most powerful consoles ever created how will the current versions hope to keep pace with their big brothers? There will eventually be a game which plays noticeably worse on the base model compared to the mega-charged-EXTREME machine (example: Hyrule Warriors on 3DS compared to new 3DS or low-specs to high-specs PC gaming).

The two-pillar concept is never successfully supported. New hardware always replaces old.

Let’s set aside the multiple-sku-ecosystem and treat the releases as what it will probably be – brand new hardware. I think four years is still far too soon for an updated machine. Look at the differences in capabilities from Super Mario Bros to Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario 64 to Majora’s Mask, Uncharted to The Last of Us or Call of Duty 2 to Black Ops 2 – developers are nowhere near to unlocking the full potential of these systems. A new system release this quick is unprecedented and uncalled for.

Actually, it isn’t.
Turns out this release will be mimic the timeframe between Xbox and Xbox 360.

Console Release Review


Furthermore, if you account for the fact last generation ran slightly longer the average time between consoles, 5.48 years, then the Holiday 2017 releases will be a course-correction of sorts. The additional time the PS3/360 were the newest consoles on the market could be viewed as ‘borrowed time’ against the life of the PS4/Xbox One.

What the release dates don’t take into account is the player engagement rate or software sales of the console. The PS2 was still the lead platform for third-party games years after the PS3 was released due to increased development costs and a low adoption rate.

Just because new hardware will be released in 2017, doesn’t mean it will be the most relevant.

There is a precedent for a four-year cycle. The proposed Holiday 2017 release is within the statistical variation compared to other console cycles. Sony and Microsoft are constantly stating that this isn’t truly a new console generation but an enhancement to the current ecosystem. All data indicates I should accept the new systems and set aside my skepticism.

But I can’t.

I don’t want to see hardware manufacturers borrow their cues from the smartphone market. The iterative lifecycle is a trap. The iPad Gen 1 is an antique by the time the iPad Gen 3 came out. Whenever someone has an iPhone 5 people wonder how they function with such stone-age technology. Consoles aren’t PCs – variable hardware, multiple models and compatibility issues are the reasons console fans stay away from PCs.

At best, Project Scorpio and Neo will become the next-generation consoles slightly ahead of schedule. At worst, they will be the first step in a new business model which will confuse consumers, complicate development and usher in an artificial arms-race where specs matter more than gameplay design.

How do you feel about the Holiday 2017 consoles? Is it all irrelevant because Project NX is coming and will dominate the market? Did you skip the PS4/Xbox One and welcome the Super PS4/Xbox One?


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