Since the unveiling of the Xbox Scorpio and the PS4 Pro, a big deal of fuss has been made over what seems to be the herald of the end of ‘true’ console generations. The main argument being made is that this signals a move from the generational console platform approach seen since the days of the NES and Sega Genesis, to the more iterative approach used by Apple and PCs. The upside of this approach is that there can be newer and better games to play without needing to move from platform to platform, but also means the end of the one-size-fits-all approach that benefits consoles. When it comes down to it, how far can consoles go down this path before it just becomes more affordable and easier to build a gaming PC instead?
“The upside of this approach is that there can be newer and better games to play without needing to move from platform to platform, but also means the end of the one-size-fits-all approach that benefits consoles”
When naming the article, I couldn’t help but cheekily add a reference to the PS4 Pro’s leaked development name, the PS4 Neo. However despite once being called ‘neo’, one only needs to look at console history to see familiar half-steps in consoles which never really led anywhere – Nintendo’s DSi and New 3DS. The Nintendo DSi was an in-between DS iteration which added eShop support and a better camera for the DS line of portable consoles; it had no major exclusive releases other than eShop DSiWare and was mainly used for DS games like its predecessor. The same pattern seems evident with the next in-between from Nintendo, the ‘New 3DS’. New 3DS added a mini-thumbstick near the buttons, better 3D support and faceplate customization, but has yet to receive any exclusive games beyond the port of Xenoblade Chronicles. Xbox Scorpio and PS4 Pro seem to follow this trend, having no exclusive games and opting for only enhancing gameplay for games already playable on the Xbox One and PS4, as well as adding 4K resolution support and VR support.
“One only needs to look at console history to see familiar half-steps in consoles which never really led anywhere”
The difference between Nintendo and their competitor’s newly announced console iterations is the fact that Nintendo’s are handhelds while the PS4 Pro and Xbox Scorpio are the first improved version for consoles, which means a higher cost of entry. Nintendo managed to place a similar price point on the entire 3DS line, which led to New 3DS sales overtaking original model 3DS sales significantly in Japan. PS4 Pro’s rise or demise might lie in the price point; normal PS4s are priced in the £200 range while PS4 Pro lies in the £300 range. In any case, the success or failure of these iterations is likely to inform Sony and Microsoft on whether this console generations revolution shall continue, or be left as a misstep in the history of console gaming.
Image: Dru Kelly via Flickr