Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Next Generation Consoles Are Coming

Yes, the Xbox One X isn't even shipping yet, and already people are starting to talk about how Sony will respond with a PlayStation 5. Let's just make this simple: Of course, Microsoft and Sony are working on the next generation of their consoles. It's relatively easy to do (compared to previous consoles, where each generation was designed from scratch), and it makes perfect marketing sense as I explained in my last post. The only real issue is exactly when these consoles will be introduced. The likelihood is both companies will be working on designs, updating them regularly, until forecasts show the timing is right for a new console generation. Then, about a year later, the new console can launch.

What features will these new consoles have? By and large, we can predict the feature set fairly well. Any new console from Sony or Microsoft will be based on the current PC architecture and maintain backwards compatibility with the existing line (just as the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X have done). The most important feature, which will be highlighted in all PR efforts, will be increased graphics power -- we should expect 4K HDR output at 60 fps for most games. Other features? Yes, there will be a number of things like improved streaming, but we're unlikely to see anything that will be too unusual -- that would make it less compatible with older consoles. Likely, VR/AR support will be built in, perhaps wirelessly through a high-bandwidth short-range connection.

Sony will probably go first with a PS5, after giving the Xbox One X a year or three in the marketplace (and to let the installed base of 4K TVs grow). Microsoft may or may not be patient; it depends on how much they think it's important not to let Sony grab the graphics lead again.

What hasn't really changed with the current new generation of consoles, and likely won't change with the next new generation, is the nature of gaming. Sure, everything will get prettier -- but the game play and game types will remain about the same. The top console games will get even more expensive to produce due to the 4K graphics, though -- and that will mean a strong incentive to stick with old IP in new versions, rather than risk entirely new IP.

In other words, I don't think these new consoles will be expanding the market very much for console games. Maybe if they can find something interesting to do with VR/AR/MR... but I have yet to see that. Market expansion and innovation is occurring on mobile, for the most part -- though there's some choice innovation on the PC, even though that platform is actually shrinking rather than growing. Consoles, though, are mostly preaching to the converted.

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