Hi, everyone. I like to play video games. Like, a lot. Like, in my mid-thirties and have played video games almost every day of my life for about as far back as I can remember a lot. Every single console generation beginning with the Atari 2600 has had a representative in my home during its heyday, and I see no reason that needs to stop.
Anyways, since nobody likes Nintendo anymore except for widdle diaper babies (note: I am joking) and people who want to play last-gen games this gen, the big fight is between two heavyweight contenders battling for the souls of hardcore gamers: Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One (not the first Xbox, but the third…I know). The claws are out, battle lines are drawn, South Park and George R.R. Martin are involved, and Black Friday is coming. Brace yourselves.
You’d think I’d be super-excited. These are several of my favorite things. I should be deciding what console I’m buying RIGHT NOW. But honestly, this is one battle I just don’t feel the need to fight. Maybe I’m too old or too broke, or perhaps it’s because I have a history of gaming bliss with both companies, but I don’t really feel like I have a stake in this. I am curiously apathetic towards this new generation of hardware. But why?
For one thing, it seems a lot like more of the same ol’ same ol’ with slightly better graphics and a few bells and whistles that aren’t really of practical value to me. They seem to have focused so much on console functionality in terms of consolidating television, DVD/blu-ray, internet, social media, and all that into one heap that they A) forgot to make any games and B) didn’t bother to make sure that the hardware consistently works. Isn’t it funny that the more technologically advanced we get, the less often stuff seems to function like it should?
Come on, Sony and Microsoft; it’s like you don’t even lift. In my day, you didn’t launch a console until you had enough great games on deck to justify the purchase and a timeless classic usually came bundled with it right off the bat. And it only cost a nickel. In addition to all that, they actually worked! No red rings, and no blue lights. After several years, the screen would occasionally flash blue upon startup, prompting you to blow into the game cartridge for some reason, but damn it, the thing worked when you got it!
Way better than mailing my Xbox 360 back for refurbishing THREE times.
Am I going to spend half a grand on a console whose most innovative functionality is a spycam that is designed to observe your behavior for the purpose of selling the information gathered to third parties? Prolly not. No tin foil hats here, either; Microsoft seriously patented this concept and is charging consumers $100 more than their competitor for the pleasure. And both consoles are leading the next-gen charge with mostly current gen games. So you’re saying I can pay hundreds of dollars more to play the same game with slightly shinier graphics? Really? Can I, please?
I guess what it really comes down to is I have an Xbox 360 and I have a PS3. Both have crazy deep libraries of brilliant games, multimedia functionality including Netflix, and look like a million bucks. I’ve still got lots of games like Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Wolf Among Us, Lightning Returns, Watch Dogs, Blazblue: Chronophantasma, and Destiny to look forward to, and even when the AAA titles stop coming, there are dozens of smaller XBL and PSN games that are screaming for attention and HD remastered versions of PS2 classics I missed out on.
Plain and simple: I am not in any rush. I think there is a legitimate case to be made that this has been the finest generation of gaming for all involved. Something for everybody and three excellent choices to deliver the goods to them, depending on personal preferences. This is the console generation that settled the “can games be art” question for good and games like Heavy Rain and Halo 4 delivered graphics that made you squint to see if you were looking at video of real people and not just collections of pixels.
I was actually compelled to hold an umbrella over my television at this point.
In short, I suppose I feel like gaming has gotten as good as it’s going to get for now. No, I’m not pledging never to purchase an Xbox One or a PlayStation 4, but I am declaring my present apathy towards either option. As much as folks with PC gaming rigs may scoff, I’m actually more interested in seeing more of Valve’s Steam Machine at this point. At least it’s something different, has backwards compatibility (in that it’s all digital), and will most likely have series like Portal, Half Life, Left 4 Dead, and Team Fortress behind it. Sony and Microsoft have barely as many exclusive series of that quality combined.
What I need to get behind a new generation of gaming is not more powerful hardware, but exceptional software. I don’t care about the brand, and I don’t care about superfluous multimedia features; what is going to sell me on any given console is the games. When the next Mass Effect title comes out or if something new comes along that looks truly mind-blowing, I’ll be forced to break the bank and choose a new console. But for now Sony and Microsoft can make due with all of my meh.
Sorry, guys, but I need serious bang for my bucks, and right now that doesn’t appear to be a part of the next-gen menu. So what I’m going to do is step aside and let you guys argue about true high definition and frame rates and theoretical future must-play titles while suffering through failing units and the absence of promised features among other typical early adoption risks.
For those of you who’ve had a great time with the new consoles, feel free to share your experiences in the comments. Any little anecdotes or observations regarding the next generation of gaming that may have escaped me would be welcome. It may not be soon, but at some point, I’m going to join you so I’d appreciate the sharing of first-hand knowledge from real gamers. Who do you think has the better console?