The obvious answer to the question of “Do we need a new console generation?” is no. Video game consoles are not necessities. We can live without video game consoles but we can’t live without food and water. However, there’s a difference between needing something to live and needing something as an experience. For instance, all of us can live on our own with very little interaction with other people. Not all of us want to and many of us choose to share our lives with others. We do so because we want the experience of someone being there for us. We don’t need others always there to live. We need them there to lead a happy life. Similarly, some of us need to play video games to feel happy, but do we need new consoles to fill that itch? That depends.
Is The Technology There Yet?
Many have commented that the graphics running on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S do not look all that impressive compared to the massive jumps in graphical quality that we’ve seen in the past. There’s a huge difference between original PlayStation graphics and PlayStation 2 graphics. This could have been exacerbated by the fact that both Sony and Microsoft had a mid-generation console refresh which beefed both consoles up in regards to hardware and graphical quality. So, instead of a seven-year difference, we’re seeing more like a three or four-year difference in graphical quality with this new generation of consoles. This begs the question of whether we actually need new consoles or should they just continue to be refreshed and upgraded like PCs? Or are mid-generation refreshes just ruining the wow factor of going into a new generation of consoles?
The big difference between this upcoming console generation and the last is that both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S have solid state hard drives built in, which means that games will not only load faster, but that you will be able to traverse landscapes and scenes faster. With an exception to the Series S, both new consoles will support 4k resolution, and all new systems will support ray tracing for more realistic lighting effects. Although the graphics themselves haven’t changed too much since last generation, you are still going to see a difference and have a whole new experience. We’re probably going to see games pop more when developers start to take advantage of the new Unreal Engine 5.
Are The Games There Yet?
Prettier graphics and faster loading doesn’t mean anything if the games aren’t there. I would surmise that most of us buy video game consoles to play games and have fun. The fact of the matter is that console launch game lineups are rarely great. There are usually maybe one or two games worth trying out and a whole bunch of filler titles. There’s just usually not much there. A console is only a promise to consumers until it picks up steam. Of course, this all depends on personal taste in games, but generally there are many people who wait for new consoles to find their footing in the market and take off.
Consoles that do not find their footing are typically shunned more by developers and receive less great titles. In the case of the Xbox One S/X, Microsoft isn’t exactly failing, but they’re not winning either. Due to their botched launch of the Xbox One; basically coming out of the gate with forced Kinect hardware and anti-consumer philosophies when it came to game sharing and the used video game market, they have had to play catch-up and regain consumer trust this generation. This has resulted in less big titles and exclusives for the brand. However, it’s looking like they’re looking to change this with the Series X/S as Microsoft just recently bought out Bethesda.
Is It Time?
Ultimately, the answer to whether or not having a new console generation is relevant is up to the individual. For myself, I’ve had as much of a crappy year as I can take with this pandemic and the excitement of a new console generation is more than welcome. Many are content with simply gaming on their PCs, and while I game on PC too, there’s something great about having a dedicated piece of hardware for gaming on the couch. There’s something great about getting exclusive gaming experiences. Each console has its own feel, magic, and ecosystem about it. I currently own 15 of them, but I have none for my 4k TV yet. For me, it’s about time.