Next Gen -- No Thanks
Over the past month or two there have been a lot of rumors and rumblings about the long-delayed “next gen” round of consoles. Lately talk has swirled of a 2012 holiday-season launch for a new Windows-driven Microsoft console. And, to be honest, it kind of makes sense. Now that the Wii has opened up the race, certainly competition cannot be far behind. I assume even gun-shy Sony will eventually get into the act.
As far as I’m concerned, this is all very disappointing news.
I realize now, only too late, that I don’t actually want a new console generation at all. In fact, I can’t think of a single thing that the current console generation should do that it currently can’t. I actually don’t really want any more graphical whizbangery — Battlefield 3 has shown me that the current gen can look too close to real as it is. Online integration is as fully featured as I need it to be. I could probably move to console-only media consumption and be happy enough, particularly once Microsoft's Live update adds even more functionality. My systems already integrate just fine with my computer and other home media. And the games for these systems are getting really, really good. Last thing I want is to go back to 3 years of developers trying to figure out how to make the tech work.
You know what, Microsoft. Keep your Xbox 3 — somehow I keep forgetting that the 360 is actually only the second MS console — I don’t want it.
I imagine being a man dying of starvation and being handed a slightly burned grilled-cheese sandwich. What kind of fiery core of desire would that spark? How the imagination of that taste would stir even as I was lifting the blackened bread and molten cheese to my mouth. I would revel in ecstasy as the charred bread scratched my soft palette, and the bubbling dairy singed my taste buds.
I can even imagine somewhere many years later half-heartedly enjoying a similar sandwich, now a thing of mediocrity, and being offered a tender, perfectly-cooked steak. “Yes, please,” I would say, already reaching hungrily for this clear upgrade. And, sure, obvious metaphor is obvious, but now in this modern age I’m already eating steak. I can no more easily imagine something better than this grade-A cut of Xbox-loin or Sony-rump-roast than I can figure out what my shadow looks like in the fourth dimension.
Hey, I know you’re eating steak, but here’s some steak with cool new salt! No thanks, bud. I’m good.
There is, of course, a hazard in throwing down this kind of gauntlet before the announcement of an announcement has even begun to form. Given that my resolve to pass on Uncharted 3 lasted for a good solid zero days, the likelihood that I will be tempted down the line is probably better than average.
That said, I have to occasionally be reminded that Nintendo has a successor to the Wii in the works. Even though I read a dozen articles on the machine when it was announced, I couldn’t tell you anything about what I read except I vaguely recall that there was a touch pad or a motion sensor or something. Maybe there are a lot of people quietly (very quietly) getting excited for this console, but what I know is that they aren’t writing much about their excitement.
“Well,” you might say, “there’s no new information to talk about, so why would anyone be writing about the …” what the hell was it called again? The Wii U or something. Sure I could have looked that up, but the point is that I would have had to look it up. Also, since when has not having anything new to say ever stopped an overenthusiastic internet from writing about stuff? Maybe there will be buzz down the line, but right now there’s more buzz in the passenger side speaker of my Camry than there is about the Nintendo Whatever That Thing Is Called.
And for that matter, the chatter for a new MS console seems almost perfunctory. I’d guess this may be the first some of you are hearing about it. Like Arbor Day, it was one of those things that we all knew was going to come around again at some point, and presumably someone was going to let us know, but really it’s not something we get particularly worked up about. I don’t remember the same kind of disengagement when whispers of a new Playstation or Xbox began to bubble some eight or so years ago.
A lot can change in a year. Or even two. What I’m hoping is that when the specifics start to come to light, I’ll get it. “Aha,” I hope to say. “It delivers medically prescribed pleasure-photons directly into my retinal-joy-receptors. Yeah, I get it.”
What I’m afraid of, though, is that all the perennial titles really digging into their prime now will be all but discontinued — except for FIFA, because FIFA releases on everything — and we’ll have a year of wondering when something we’ve heard of before will actually be released for this new brick of wires sitting in my living room. The idea of paying $500 for the pleasure of three months with nothing but six or seven launch titles to play makes me curl my lip in disgust.
Console launch mania is so 1995.
Maybe Microsonydo can convince me otherwise with some clever marketing, or even better some actually good ideas. I have my doubts.