So, if you've paid attention on the internet, the Xbox One was revealed this week... and yeah, it failed to impress.
There's a lot to rag on it here, from console DRM that defeats the purpose of having discs at all, to the fact that it's being marketed as an entertainment center that's redundant in every way (own a smart TV or any other device that can access Netflix/streaming services? You already own an Xbox One then), to the fact that a game console got announced with no games.
However, I'd like to take a step back and talk about all of the consoles coming out in this.
Honestly, I feel like it's too soon for them.
PS2 era was this revolution that was not just happening in games, but in other forms of entertainment as well. If you can remember, that was the rise of the DVD then, as well as the turn of the millennium with changes to computers as well. It was the fall of Sega and the rise of Microsoft in the game market. For games, actual cutscenes started to appear rather than pre-rendered FMV sequences, and online play began to appear outside of PCs. Hell, the internet started to change itself around here in a way that enabled that. Emulators began to emerge here as well, "creating" retro, and by extent further establishing the line between the past and the present.
While it would be easy to jump straight to the next generation, it's also important to remember that during this time, the handheld market went through similar advancement. We saw the first shadows of smart phones with Nokia's failures with the N-gage, and the Gameboy shifted around until it became Advanced, a jump resembling the "Supering" of the NES.
The next wave was almost as revolutionary, bringing a complete online revolution, a noticeable upgrade to graphics, significantly better tech, personalization, Blu-Ray, motion controls (which were attached to shiny new versions of familiar faces), and more.
However, one of the things I'd point out happened with each of these shifts was they all had a reference point that showed how far they came.
Spyro and Crash contrasted with Jak and Ratchet. Halo 2 (which anyone can tell you was a 360 game that just happened to run on the original) was clearly different than Halo CE. The PS3 showed us Old Snake with all the fancy details he had after the PS2 made Solid and Naked iconic. We were shown Mario and Luigi, along with a bunch of other similarly colorful platformers on the Gamecube with the N64 fresh in our minds. Metroid Prime shattered our expectations, especially because the last Metroidvania game Nintendo turned 3D didn't look so hot. Final Fantasy X marked that series move onto the new consoles. The Wii advertised itself with Zelda (even though it came out for both it and its older brother).
So the problem ends up being two fold: There's really not been as much of a shift in console tech, and the worldwide changes to technology have favored smart phones and tablets, which ended up being a separate market, as well as the fact that there's no real change to be seen right now in terms of games.
There's a reason all of those previous consoles were announced with plenty of screenshots from games in development, even if they would take a couple years to launch. However, while Xbox One revealed itself with nothing to show, the WiiU and PS4 didn't show off enough themselves.
Because of the push for high end graphics, even if it meant prerendered footage, the new Killzone doesn't look too much better than before. Hell, nothing really looks different enough on the PS4. For the WiiU, it too doesn't have anything I haven't seen elsewhere, even if I do feel a lot of potential in it. It at the very least looks like it could provide new experiences with a moveable second screen, though I feel like it would benefit more from allowing others sorts of tablets to act as additional controllers.
I know there's the excuse that for three generations, it has only been 4 or so years between console reveals, but all of them felt like they had become necessary for a device that couldn't upgrade itself. However, consoles have reached the point where they're practically PCs, and having built my own for a little more than the cost of this new generation, I'm questioning why I need to check them out.
The advantages of consoles themselves have faded with this move to be more like PCs to make up for their limitations. The move to keep games current and release quicker removed the ability to instantly play them when you put them in. The push for online, with profiles and accounts and matchmaking, moved my games from the living room couch to in front of my own TV. The pursuit of the perfect AAA money maker that would cost $60 killed the variety of genres and eroded the "B" game market (To explain: 5-7 on the grade scale used to mean you should pick it up cheap if you felt like you would like it, as they were usually less polished but enjoyable).
E3 has a chance to convince me that I should stick with the PS4 or perhaps the WiiU (One has to go back to the drawing board. I'm not going to pay for a subscription based console with that much baggage), but right now it doesn't look too good.