Gaming console generations refer to specific eras with the consoles having the same predominant technology, form factor, graphics quality, and so forth. Although there are and have been several players like Sega, Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, etc., the biggest consoles are the Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox, so in this article, we will define a generation of consoles as an era starting at the launch of new Xbox and PlayStation consoles.
We are currently in the 7th generation of gaming consoles; a generation that came with basically upgrades on the 6th gen, such as improved processors, storage capacity, sound, graphics, connectivity, media options, and so forth, with no much unique features and specs.
How Long Does a Console Generation Last?
From what we have seen over the years, a console generation lasts for around four to six years. The 6th generation’s PS 2 lasted for six years, as it was launched in 2000 before the release of the PS3 in 2006, while that generation’s Xbox 180 only lasted for four years. The 7th generation is already in its 5th year, and this is why everyone is so excited about what the next-gen gaming consoles will bring.
What to Expect from Next-Gen Consoles
As stated earlier, generations are defined by unique or improved pieces of tech, build, services, and so on. So, in predicting what to look out for in the 8th generation, we will talk on these factors that define gaming experience.
On the fourth generation consoles, we played games from cartridges, and disks were then standardized on the fifth and sixth-gen consoles. Moving from those standards, the seventh generation was defined by consoles that packed superb connectivity options.
If the anticipated eighth generation continues to drive 4K gaming, the consoles will ship with even more improved hardware, and like the Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro, they will be another step in the evolution of the current generation.
Presently, many pointers hint towards the industry’s adoption of digital-only games. Despite the consoles starting with physical media like cartridges and disks, at 74% of all sales last year, the companies sell more digital games than physical games, according to the annual report of Entertainment Software Association (ESA). Further, thanks to the increasing 4K support, and as games continually get bigger, it seems unfeasible that the next-gen consoles would take a fully digital nature.
We cannot say for sure the direction the next generation will take, as the concept of consoles and controllers could be entirely scrapped with more focus on more improved streaming tech and virtual reality (which has so far been successful for Sony). However, we do not believe it will take the option of a full virtual reality system; not yet, until probably an independent virtual reality console that does not need a TV. We could see that in future generations, but not this.
The Information reports of Yeti, which is a game streaming service Google is working on that will offer users games which will be available after a subscription. These Google games will be played on a Chromecast dongle or a Google console.
Game streaming is fantastic, as you would not need much other hardware, except for a stable internet connection and a few other things. However, consoles and downloadable games have superb advantages like convenience, and you cannot presently get a desirable performance here due to bandwidth and latency issues. Hopefully, Google’s Yeti would provide the demanded level of latency-free experience and begin to usher in a new era. But that said, although we look forward to improved streaming from different manufacturers, we do not think the next-gen consoles will focus on game streaming.
Build and Form Factor
The PlayStation Pro and Xbox One X consoles are seventh-gen but were released later featuring improved power but keeping the old hardware and architecture, a model that the smartphone industry embraces. If this model were to be adopted in gaming, it means that we would not see many noticeable differences in the hardware of eight-gen consoles.
That is not the case with gaming consoles, however. The hardware build is a factor that always evolves with every generation and even within the same generation. In 2017, Aaron Greenberg Xbox head of Games Marketing, told Engadget that “For us, we think the future is without console generations; we think that the ability to build a library, a community, to be able to iterate with the hardware—we’re making a pretty big bet on that with Project Scorpio. We’re saying, ‘This isn’t a new generation; everything you have continues forward, and it works.’ We think of this as a family of devices.”
The above hints are mere speculations; albeit informed predictions, you cannot bank on them as facts because these tech companies always have ways of surprising us year after year. What features are you looking forward to the most?