In less than a month, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will be available. Are you ready?
There is something really exciting about video game console launches, and it’s a little energizing to think about the fact that in less than a month people will be playing games on Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One.
As someone who has witnessed a lot of console launches, it’s enjoyable to think about the new upcoming systems and think back to the console launches of yore.
The first video game console I remember getting really excited about was the Sega Genesis. While everybody in my neighborhood, including my family, owned and loved the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Sega Genesis was one of the first systems that introduced a significant leap forward in technology. The graphics, 16-bit in nature, and the music and sound effects were more akin to the fidelity of late 80s arcades. Everything about the 16-bit leap felt much more real. Characters were much more detailed, music has a richer sound, and sound effects were more impactful. NES games were still amazing, but playing a game on the Sega Genesis made you feel like you were playing at the arcade cabinet from the comfort of your bedroom. I can play Altered Beast, Golden Axe, and After Burner II at home? Yes, please!
13 years ago, I remember having an internal struggle about whether or not to run out to the local Best Buy, and wait over night to try and get a PlayStation 2 — this was before midnight sales became a popular thing. My friends were all die-hard Sega fans, and the Dreamcast was the only worthwhile console. Okay, so maybe I drank a bit of the Sega Kool-Aid, but I also recognized the juggernaut that was the PlayStation name, and it was hard to not look at some of the upcoming PS2 games and not feel envy. Even though I could never admit it to owning a PlayStation 2 to my closest friends, and would likely have to hide the console and any games anytime they came over to my apartment — one of the perks of having a one-bedroom apartment — I decided it was worth being a closeted PS2 owner. Thankfully, to both the internal conflict and my bank account, the line to at the Best Buy was insanely long and the weather, that late October night, was too cold to wait in for the chance to buy a PlayStation 2. It took me 5 months to finally get my hands on a PlayStation 2 — that’s how popular and hard-to-get they were.
More than a half-decade later, my then-pregnant wife and I, lined up outside a local Toys R Us for the chance to get a Nintendo Wii for the family during a midnight launch. At 3am, we arrived back home with a brand new Wii console — which I could end up having to wait another month-and-a-half to play as it was to be a Christmas gift. Ugh! 😉
So, where we are today, on the eve of another next generation launch. And things are quite a bit different. In the past, the better console was the one with the better graphics and sound. I remember the endless comparisons between the Original Xbox and the PlayStation 2, and the Xbox 360 and to the PlayStation 3 – of polygon counts and frames-per-second.
This time around, the better gaming console seems to be about all of the cool things it can do besides playing video games. Yes, we should more lifelike objects and character models, and smoother frames-per-second, but arguments are now over the merit of devices like Microsoft’s Kinect 2 and their impact on games, the pros and cons of digital distribution (and digital rights management) versus buying and owning physical copies of games. Yes, killer games and franchises that are exclusive to one particular console are also still important, but so too are those must-have apps that allow your video gaming console to do more. For example, Microsoft wants to take exercising and personal training to a whole new level with the Xbox One and the Kinect.
Having the best games, with content only available on that particular console is still one of the goals for the victor, but the biggest win for Sony or Microsoft is for their machine to rule your living room — to be the all-in-one device that delivers music, movies, television programs, and both big and small game releases.
As somebody who enjoys technology, this is a fun time for me. While I likely won’t be getting neither the Xbox One nor PlayStation 4 until early 2014, I will be eager to hear about the midnight releases, read people’s thoughts about the system, and the game reviews.