Console hardware is taking a back seat to services this gen

It’s been over two years since the current console generation got off to a rocky start at the end of 2020. You might think enough time has passed to figure out what it is, but it’s still confusing for many. This year, that may change. As Tomas Franzese wrote earlier this month, 2023 could be the year we finally see the games that define this generation of consoles, at least in terms of exclusivity. , also mentioned that it might launch just on the current-gen console instead of launching on previous-gen consoles at the same time.

You end up with some memorable games, but they don’t come close to defining the hardware itself. Aside from a few teraflops and a new super-fast SSD, there isn’t much that helps the PS5 and Xbox Series X and S stand out from their predecessors. The is made like a refrigerator, but I had no idea what these devices could offer other than some pretty lighting effects and virtually zero gravity that the PS4 and Xbox One couldn’t offer. Existing load time.

That said, this generation is not without purpose. It’s not hardware and software dependent like previous consoles. Instead, this generation of consoles will be life and death in its services, from Game Pass to cloud streaming options.

What’s the deal with consoles?

Moore’s Law dictates that the number of transistors in a microchip will double every two years, and the industry has long followed that trend. But the last few years have seen technological progress stagnant, and video game consoles are no exception. As an example, the PS5 saw some improvements over the PS4, with a 120Hz refresh rate and the ability to play games in 4K with much faster storage. This is a great way to show that you can compute more processes at once.

Future Publishing/Getty Images

The PS5 is more powerful than its predecessor, but most of what I said above is irrelevant to the average user. Other than faster load times, visual improvements, and the addition of Ray His Tracing feature, there isn’t much difference between this game and the previous generation AAA games. And this is no mere one-off fluke.

“There have been revolutionary leaps in technology and content, much like we saw in the 90s and 2000s, when new console generations meant entirely new content slates and never-before-seen technical features. You won’t see it,” analysts said. NPD Group’s Mat Piscatella told his Digital Trends in an email.

Modern consoles are losing their importance as a way to play the most popular games. During the first few years, both Xbox and PlayStation released new games such as: Horizon Forbidden West Sony has also successfully experimented with releasing its own titles on PC months or years after the original launch, even when older hardware struggles with the most intense titles. He said he has and will continue to do so. Xbox, on the other hand, is eyeing Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Streaming, which allow users to play games on their console, PC, or mobile his devices. And thanks to cloud saves, you can play on one machine and start the game on another. Nintendo will continue to be a closed ecosystem in terms of its own existence, but even that the Switch needs external games and supports more ports both locally and in the cloud. cannot be denied.

They will continue to sell, but as games become more expensive to manufacture and more expensive to purchase, video game companies will look to other emerging technologies as they try to find the best way to recoup their costs. That’s where services like Xbox Game Pass come in.

Rise of services

Right now, there’s little difference between Xbox and PlayStation when it comes to the consoles themselves, and until more exclusives arrive in 2023, there’s little reason to buy a PS5 over an Xbox Series X or vice versa. But that’s not to say you can’t give those companies your money.

All major console makers, including Nintendo, are investing more in their services, whether it’s cloud gaming or game catalog subscriptions. A big name in this space right now is Xbox Game Pass. This gives players access to a huge catalog of games, including first-party releases, and cloud his streaming for $15/month. Last year Sony reinvented the PlayStation Plus. It’s not quite as good as Xbox Game Pass, but it does give you a back catalog of older games when you subscribe to higher tiers, and features like a rotating list of free games and cloud saves. , people can play games online and access an ever-growing catalog of retro titles. you get the picture

PlayStation Plus, Xbox Live Gold and Nintendo Online logos

The console has had service for years. Think Xbox Live Gold, introduced with Xbox 360. For a fee, the user could opt for his multiplayer online and monthly free games. These companies have figured out ways to get more money from their customers than just selling games and hardware, but in this generation it’s important to get money from players in other ways. Customers win as long as they buy the ecosystem and buy the product.

When Microsoft acquired ZeniMax Media in 2021, you now have access to Bethesda’s huge library of games. star field, and so many others. But it wasn’t just that Xbox had more exclusives — it’s certainly part of it. You can play future Bethesda games from day one, but with a subscription you can basically play for free.

Microsoft is all-in on Xbox Game Pass. We can see this with the release of the Xbox Series S. It’s pretty much the same as the Xbox Series X minus a few features and disc drive, making it essentially a cloud gaming box. Management likewise touts inclusivity and a mission to bring the game to as many people as possible. Marketing materials show that Xbox Game Pass is played as often as consoles and first-party titles.

and it’s working. In early 2022, the company announced that Xbox Game Pass had approximately 25 million subscribers. This is also a good deal. For $15 a month, you can try games like no other and move them from your TV to your PC or phone.this is how i played repentance You can also use your subscription to jump to older titles like Halo: Master Chief Collectionwithout worrying about budget.

The TV shows the new Xbox Game Pass coming soon to the Samsung Gaming Hub.

PlayStation is trying to do something similar with the PlayStation Plus, but it’s also trying to expand outside of first-party gaming. acquisition will release 10 live service games over the next four years. destiny 2 Developer Bungie continues to dabble in movies, TV, mobile games, PC games, and more.

Certainly not every service, but what the big console makers are showing is that while the hardware itself is still important, it’s no longer at the top of the list. Player needs are expanding, and so are the ways games are played.

“Going back to the PS2 days, someone had to buy a box, plug it into a TV, and buy a game on disc. It’s all about playing when you want, where you want, with whom you want.In the old days, it was all about playing where you were,” says Piscatella. .

What does the future hold?

We will continue to see major console releases. These companies cannot afford to abandon the hype cycle around new hardware releases and the competition that can drive sales. Moreover, they still sell very well. As inventories become more stable (at least compared to just after launch), the manufacturer reports stronger sales. It announced that about 30 million units have been sold. According to VGChartz, there isn’t much difference between PS5 and Xbox. On the other side of the industry, he’s been dominating nearly six years since the Nintendo Switch came out.

It’s not just the United States, where console sales tend to be the strongest. Manufacturers are investing more in Asia and players are responding. According to Niko Partners analyst Darang Candra, this is also true in his PC- and mobile-dominated Asian market.

“The current console generation is plagued by hardware shortages, game lag, and a lack of next-gen exclusive games. We can see the demand.”

However, games and consoles are getting more expensive. Sony just announced that it will raise the price of the PS5 by about $50 in major markets, with many major games currently selling for $70. Being addicted to video games is an expensive hobby, so players will of course look for cheaper alternatives, such as cloud gaming that doesn’t require subscription services or expensive consoles. Or, as Candra puts it, target platforms players already own, such as mobile phones, tablets, and PCs.

When people complain that this generation of consoles hasn’t come into their own yet, it feels like they haven’t seen the big picture yet. It’s a generation of technology that hasn’t evolved, and we’ll have to keep an eye on where it goes.

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