E3 Brings Amazing Things, Including Next Gen Console Rumours.

It’s that time of year again when the Electronics and Entertainment Expo (commonly known as E3) brings about all sorts of tech demos, teaser trailers and usually a swath of speculation of what the upcoming year holds for the gaming community. Whilst I usually shoot a curious glance its way whenever a company I’m following announces something I tend not to talk about it too much lest I work myself up into a White Knight Chronicles-esque fervor only to be disappointed once again. Still with the drip feed of information that I’ve allowed myself I’ve noticed something of a trend in many of the news articles that I’ve been reading.

It seems that the latest round of games look too good for current gen consoles and people are wondering if they’re all destined for the next generation. Taken at face value the games do look a whole lot more impressive than most current generation titles and here’s a few examples from E3 that have got everyone’s tongue wagging about whether they’re next gen or not.

Watch Dogs:

Last of Us:

Beyond: Two Souls:

They are quite impressive looking titles, especially Watch Dogs which has managed to steal E3 away from all of its competitors. However I personally didn’t think they were outside the capabilities of the PlayStation 3, mostly because even though we’re a almost 6 years into its life developers are still wringing good performance increases out of it. The Xbox360 on the other hand is starting to run up to its limits but its still quite capable of producing some pretty good graphics (see my Mass Effect 3 review to see some screens taken in-game). The kicker of course is the answer to the question that everyone on the floor asked “What’s this demo running on?”.

For all the games in question it was a high end PC. Cue raucous cheering from the PC crowd who can feel the crown of best platform being placed back on their heads.

Of course many of the developers came out afterwards and stated that all the games would be running on current generation consoles. However the fact that they run on PCs doesn’t exclude them from running on at least 1 of the next gen consoles (Orbis, or the PS4) which will be sporting a good old fashioned x86-64 instruction set. Additionally any game that runs on a Windows PC and utilizes the Microsoft XNA framework has a very easy time being ported to the current Xbox and so it follows that the next gen would also have similar capabilities. So whilst these titles aren’t technically next gen they’re definitely indicative of what they’ll be capable of, at least at the beginning of their life cycle.

As for when those consoles will be making their debut I’d have to put my money on sometime next year for Microsoft’s Durango and the year after that for Sony’s Orbis. There’s not a lot of concrete evidence to back that up but with the Xbox360 approaching is 7th birthday soon I can’t see it hanging on for much longer after that. It then follows on that Sony wouldn’t want to be too far behind in its next gen console release although they’ve been very mum on whether or not they’re actually working on it yet. This is definitely a subject I’m going to have to revisit 6 months down the line.

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  1. E3

    Watch dogs looks amazing and interesting concept but I hope it’s not only a GTA type game with better graphics and new features such as ‘hacking’ and other abilities.

    I thought the new Hitman looked ok. The demo I saw showed multiple paths to the ‘kill’ and had an interesting engine which allowed a crowd of NPC’s. I never played the original games so no idea if they have updated the concept.

    Dishonoured could be interesting too.

    Do you think Sony and XBOX may decide to make a loss (initially) on the hardware like they did last time just to get thier next-gen console out there?

    I find the fact current consoles are 6-7 years old is telling. My PC is now mainly 3 years old and I want to upgrade it! Though I have upgraded the graphics card since 2009.

  2. Yeah the Watch Dog video promises a lot so I can’t wait to see what it actually delivers on. Definitely hoping it’s not just a GTA clone with hacking.

    I’ve never been a big fan of the Hitman series (I don’t hate it, just never got into it) so the reaction to the current title will be interesting to see.

    Very much looking forward to Dishonored!

    I think Sony and Microsoft have both seen what Nintendo did with the Wii (they never lose money on hardware, the Wii was no exception) and will be looking to emulate it. There’s a lot of well informed speculation that the next gen consoles from them won’t be the computing power houses that the previous ones were and with the Orbis being x64 that’s pretty much a given, at least in comparison to Cell. Additionally most of the Xbox360s and PlayStation 3s out there are now being used extensively as media centers rather than dedicated gaming machines which means there’s even less opportunities for Sony and Microsoft to make up the revenues if they use the consoles as loss leaders.

    So to answer your question directly Chaos, no I don’t expect them to making losses on the next gen consoles.

    There’s a definite trend of consolization for all games and that’s why us gamers have been able to go longer than we ever have before without upgrading. I can remember the times when a 1 year old PC would struggle with the latest titles, now as long as you upgrade the graphics card every 2 years you’ll be fine. I did my first full upgrade in 3 years last year and it still manages to play everything at maximum settings without any hint of chug or lag. I’m not sure how much the next gen of consoles will change this but its definitely something I’ll be watching keenly.

  3. Good points David. You do only need to occasionally upgrade the video cards. My HD6850’s in crossfire good enough to throw almost anything at the moment on 1920×1200. However the rest of the computer is ancient in modern terms. Motherboard still on DDR2!

    (I was nearly forced to upgrade my entire computer in April when my optical drive power connection shorted and started smoking …but that’s another story).

    As for next generation consoles I’ll wait and see. I skipped the current generation and for the most part, most games I wanted to play ended up on PC and looked better but sometimes had clunky UI (until someone modded it). Would have liked to play games like Red Dead R though or Uncharted though. If the infrustructure between a PC and next-gen come closer like you suggest I expect the exclusives will reduce.

    Back to E3 I should mention some of the titles I would have liked to see. Thief 4 or even the next Deus Ex (even a DLC) but nothing yet….

  4. It’s very common now for most games to make their way onto basically every platform, there aren’t that many exclusives anymore. I remember when they said that Mass Effect would be Xbox only and then 6 months later there was a PC release. There’s still a few around, like the ones you mention, and if your primary gaming platform is PC they’re probably not worth it just for those titles (both RDR and Uncharted are heaps of fun, though).

    Would’ve definitely liked to have seen something on both of those fronts. Was a big fan of Thief back in the day and after The Missing Link DLC I’m all geared up for more Deus Ex action 😉

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