Sunday, June 26, 2011

Playstation NEXT Release Date Debate

With Nintendo’s next console pegged for the second half of next year, Sony is all but forced to put the wheels in motion for their next Playstation. Sony has stated over and over that they plan on Playstation 3 having a 10 years life cycle. Part of that statement will probably be true. Both of their last two systems ended up pumping out games for 10 years, overlapping the next system in the Playstation brand. Yet many of Sony’s statements over the last few years made it sound that Playstation 3 was going to have the company’s sole focus outside of their handheld brand.  Numbers don’t lie and Sony is well aware of their 3rd place status. Despite having the most powerful and robust architecture, mainstream gamers went for Nintendo’s Wii and the hardcore crowd bought Microsoft’s offering. Being first to the marketplace with the Xbox 360 paid off big for Microsoft and you can be sure Sony took notice.

The big question is when can we expect Playstation NEXT (PS4)? Usual console life cycles have always come at the five and six year mark. We already know this generation will be different. With increased hardware costs, game development time and a stubborn economy this current generation will be sticking around longer.

Microsoft and Sony’s pipedream is 2014. With Sony executives pointing out on numerous occasions that developers have only used half on PS3’s total power, three more years could work. Xbox 360 on the other hand would definitely have a hard time keeping up for another three years and will probably looking at a 2013 launch. There are rumors that Microsoft could be rushing work on their next gen Xbox for a late 2012 or early 2013 release to keep neck and neck with Nintendo. Realistically though, a fall 2013 release for the next Xbox and Playstation is most likely. Although at last year's Game Developer's Conference in Germany, the CEO of Crytek announced that his company's development of their next-generation graphics engine, the CryEngine3, will release in 2012, around the same time as the PlayStation NEXT. Anyone in the game industry knows how wish full thinking and reality continue to be bitter enemies.

If Sony as a company continues to struggle along with its third place PS3, they might have to cut their losses and start fresh and hopefully learn from their mistakes. Both the PlayStation 1 and PlayStation 2, which dominated their generations, came to market at the same time or earlier than their competition. The PlayStation 1 was launched just after the Sega Saturn, and well before the Nintendo 64, while the PlayStation 2 was released before both the Xbox and Nintendo Gamecube. This generation, they gave up a year head start to Microsoft and struggled through an abysmal launch and have never gain back much ground.

At E3 this year, gamers hoped to be surprised by a Playstation NEXT announcement but were disappointed when SCEE boss Andrew House released a statement in an interview with Eurogamer saying, "From a Sony perspective, we're very comfortable with PS3 and the way that market's developing," Although in other interviews, Sony has gone on record stating that “development work is already underway.”

Activision has stated that they still have no information or dev kits on any new consoles. With development times for next gen games running 2-3 years on average, a 2013 launch will probably be the earliest we see Playstation NEXT.

Stay tuned for any new Playstation NEXT info.

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