When the PS4 Neo was announced (sorry: “rumored”) I was nonplussed. It was a selfish feeling though. I don’t have a PS4 yet. A bigger, badder version of Sony’s juggernaut console was fine with me since it would just mean that when I finally got around to it I’d have the latest and greatest. All I need to do is wait for Black Friday to come around and I’ll be bare-assed on the company copy machine over my state of the art new PS4 Neo, probably with PSVR set up, and I’ll have gotten it all for a kinky 20% off whatever the deal is thanks to Amazon. Assuming they’re in stock of course.
Outside of my own little bubble I did feel the pain of current PS4 owners though. Being asked to buy a new console that’s not really a new console because it’s mostly identical to what you thought was your new console is disappointing, and arguably unnecessary. Microsoft was rumored to be doing something similar but nothing was concrete. They had answered some questions earlier this year about modular or upgradeable consoles though, which raised some eyebrows. Nothing concrete whatsoever, but with the Neo on the horizon and Microsoft perpetually in catch up mode this generation, it was logical to think there was a strong possibility they were headed down this road.
With that in mind, we have Destructoid’s article today concerning rumors of what exactly Microsoft would reveal at E3 when it comes to a new Xbox One. Long story short, MS will be revealing a slim model of the Xbox One and a somewhat more powerful one. The more powerful one seems on the surface to be on par with how Sony is approaching their own upgraded model. Better GPU and 4K capability. Just enough to even remotely consider it discernibly new (maybe). There’s also the possibility that the new version would have Oculus Rift capabilities which falls in line with MS having an established relationship with the company (Xbox One controllers are packed in with the VR head set currently).
None of this is too surprising given what we already knew before the rumors surfaced. Reading further though you notice some sketchy details: There is a possibility of more frequent revisions than what we’re used to hearing about now. Could there really be a new revised console every two years? EVERY year? Also, there’s also a chance that compatibility issues would arise over the course of multiple revisions. If that were to occur then the console market as we know it would change permanently. With these PS4.5 and Xbox One and a Half rumors that seem to be cemented in eventual fact, we are beginning to move towards a point where you will no longer be all set for years and years to come after your purchase of a new console.
Let’s say this catches on, which isn’t all that impossible given that gamers have no restraint with their money and that the similarity to mobile phones releasing every year has been posited. We’ll be conservative though and us an example somewhere between mobile phones and these rumored consoles. We’ll say that from now on Sony and MS will be releasing an improved model of their respective systems every 2-3 years. If that’s the case, what is the reasoning for not moving on to a PC almost exclusively?
Modular consoles cancel out a lot of the gripes someone like me has about PC gaming, namely keeping hardware up to date. What’s the point of a console when I’m still expected to drop $400 each time Sony or MS decides it’s time for me to do so? Basically the only thing stopping a layman like myself from joining the master race is that I’m too dumb to figure out how to rig everything up to my big TV. Other than that extremely overcome-able hurdle, I’m not losing anything by becoming primarily a PC gamer if these console upgrades become a frequent thing. I’ll gain all the perks I’ve been mostly missing out on too: Decidedly better performance and thousands more games to choose from. I’d say those are pretty significant.
As of now my forays into Steam and GOG are mostly for strategy games like Civ and Total War or cheaper, simpler games that aren’t on consoles. This is mostly for fear of a newer game not being able to run on my PC properly, despite the upside in performance. If I devoted some money into making the necessary upgrades though, I’d be all set for a few years. A modular console has no advantage over that. MS and Sony have unintentionally given one more big reason for me to move over to a PC as my primary gaming platform. Or maybe they don’t care. Maybe consoles are just hurdling faster and faster towards being sucker bets for people that just don’t follow the gaming industry but still want to pop in Madden every once in awhile or indulge in a hyped new release. The games themselves have moved more and more towards lazy efforts and nickel and diming of their customers. Maybe the hardware itself is just following suit.