July 13, 2014

The Future Platform

I often rant slightly about the current gen for it's poor timing given how dramatically things are shifting in computer tech this year. I'm also on record about various ideas of what could have been done or should have been done and what I think of pc gaming and digital distribution. With my general discontent I'm often asked "well what would you do then since you have all the answers?" in as condascending of a tone as they can muster. My answer is the best of both world and as much of a reduction in the flaws as is possible with such a combination.

To elaborate on what I see for the future generation of gaming platforms as I will describe shortly. First however I shall lay the foundation to explain my logic. This current gen was in planning for a long time and most of the developers of both teams saw the landscape changing in gaming and tried what they could to adapt for the future they saw knowing they would be inadequate. Which is why when this current gen released they already starting planning an entire new generation with both sony and xbox quietly stating that the next generation after this one would come much quicker than the last. In a previous post I elaborated on a number of technologies I had expected to see in this generation that simply are not present. The unfortunate problem at this point though is even if the next gen fixes all of the problems and complaints I have with ps4 and x1 there's still one major problem I can't get past which they'll likely never fix. That problem is that there is a console war in place with waring factions on both sides and even within console families there isn't much support or cross-play. While consoles move to less hardware dependent virtual OS to allow for future upgrades making backwards comparability almost guaranteed for the future and moving closer towards being dedicated PC's and Steam making it's own OS to be more like a console the fact remains our games are still land locked. Steam might let us play our games under different OS on different machines, but not on consoles, and games from one console don't play on another even if they exist on it. There's the added development costs for releasing on multiple platforms and gamers are stuck picking sides or going broke trying to play both sides. Content on one console won't transfer to another making you not only buy the game twice but all the dlc as well if you decide to hop platforms. Some games with system crossplay or upgrades like ps3 to ps4 and vita sometimes require purchasing the game all over again instead of just an upgrade cost.

So what do I propose to solve these problems? I suggest combining forces. If xbox and sony teamed up on developing a single console hardware platform they could both release their OS on the same machine and players wouldn't have to pick a side, and we might even be able to add SteamOS as well and just keep adding and opening up the market for other similar OS's. Perhaps peripherals are still different having a sony style or xbox style controller but being able to play your games across multiple platforms without having to buy them multiple times. Add the option for dedicated hardware upgrades or expansion kits if they're really needed perhaps taking an idea from a new modular design system to add hardware as needed. This unification of the gaming world would be revolutionary, unfortunately however it'll likely only ever be a pipe-dream. Then again now we have things like NeoGeo that plays all the old cartridge games... so maybe it's not that far fetched?