Friday, September 16, 2011

Why gamers will see next gen consoles sooner than later

Both Microsoft and Sony have been touting 2014 or 2015 has the target year for their next gen consoles. After Nintendo’s E3 reveal of their next gen console, Wii U, rumors surfaced that both companies are preparing reveals of their own next gen consoles at 2012’s E3. Based on software development timetables, franchise stagnation and generational fatigue, 2013 could see the release of two new next gen consoles.

2011 is setting a record in the number of franchises seeing releases of their third outing. Many are concluding their stories and finishing strong. Gears of War 3, Uncharted 3, Fear 3, Resistance 3, Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3, Saints Row 3, Forza 4 (3rd 360 title) are coming later this year and already released this year were Killzone 3 and Motorstorm 3. All have had their third iterations on the current gen consoles. Next year, Mass Effect, Bioshock, Far Cry and Ninja Gaiden are all seeing their third release on current gen systems. Portal, Conduit, Little Big Planet, Dead Space, Crysis, Dragon Age, Infamous, The Darkness and Batman Arkham all have sequels this year too.

It doesn’t make sense for many of these franchises to release yet another addition on current gen systems at this point, beside merely for a money making reasons. They all have reached their creative peak on current gen hardware and need a new console regroup and rekindle their flame. With development time reduced on sequels, they could see another release in a year and a half’s time, but that puts their next gen versions even further out and that’s something Microsoft and Sony can’t afford.
Where does Microsoft and Epic go from here?
If they are truly feeling pressure from Nintendo’s Wii U, waiting till 2015 or 2016 for tru next gen sequels isn’t feasible. If the most important franchises begin next gen development this year, Sony and Microsoft can hit Holiday 2013 and 2014 hard with their main guns.

There are also many in the industry that want Microsoft and Sony to hold off with their next gen plans until the economy rebounds and the current generation begins to wear out its welcome; neither of which has happened yet. At the six year mark is when game industry typically falls into a lull, as one generation of consoles cools off and the next one begins to heat up. This is the first time in the industry’s history that a generation is holding on past its usual trail off mark.

It will be interesting to see how developers go about planning their releases over the next three years. If Sony and Microsoft continue to be mum about their next gen plans, developers will have to decide to pump out yet another sequel and risk franchise fatigue, invest in a new IP this late in the cycle, or simply wait out the launch of the next gen consoles.
Uncharted 3, God of War 3, Resistence 3, Moterstorm 3,
Killzone 3 all on Playstation 3. Time to regroup for PS4.
Game companies are getting better at planning for the future than they once were.  Gamers can bet to see all of the biggest franchises a lot sooner in the next generation than in past generations and for them to coincide with the console’s launch and first holiday season more so than ever. Halo 4 may be Xbox 360 sendoff note, but the better bet is putting your money on it being an Xbox 720 launch title.

This is reason why gamers may see the next generation of Xbox and Playstation sooner rather than later. The last big wave of triple A titles will come in 2012, leaving 2013 a ghost town. There might seem a lot of life left in current gen hardware, but by mid-2013 that simply won’t be the case anymore. As the industry resets itself with every new generation, a new market leader is up for grabs. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will be playing for keeps and will want a piece of it as soon as they can.

-TNGG

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