FFD: Is the traditional console cycle dead?

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The console landscape is changing. This generation, both of the leading consoles utilise X86 architecture, making them closer to being PC’s than they’ve ever been before. And it seems that the margin between consoles and PCs is narrowing even more – as both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are set to receive hardware upgrades.

While they’re not modular like you’d get on a PC, they are significant upgrade –promising better visuals, higher framerates and resolutions and a lot of support for VR. It’s starting to look like this may become a regular thing – taking cues from how smartphones work. Every few years, you get a new one that is compatible with software from the old one, an iterative model.

It looks like it’ll be breaking the traditional console cycle; buy a console and you’re set with that console for the next five years. Instead of clearly defined console cycles, we may see things take on smaller, incremental upgrades.

Last year, industry analyst Michael Pachter predicted that this would be the last traditional console generation – and he may be right.

“I don’t mean that Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo will go bankrupt and shut down – they will not. Each of them will make another console, some people will buy them, and the next console cycle will be to this console cycle what the 3DS is to the DS.”

It’s something Twitch boss Emmett Shear believes too.

“The problem is, the seven-year upgrade lifecycle doesn’t work in the face of the two-year upgrade cycles for every other hardware platform,” Twitch chief Emmett Shear told the Guardian in an interview.  “It’s so intrinsically built into how consoles get manufactured and made and the full business model, that I’d be surprised to see another generation.”

Are they right? Do you think the console cycle is dead? Or is this move by Microsoft and Sony just a way, perhaps, to push VR?

Last Updated: July 1, 2016

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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