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The Lighthouse View issue #3: Next Gen Gaming
by Jolex Del Pilar
Tuesday, October 7 2003
Who will rule supreme in the next generation of gaming consoles?
With every generation, it seems that the staying power of gaming consoles is dropping. The mighty NES had a lifespan that nearly stretched a decade, while the Super Nintendo only lasted about half as long. Perhaps us gamers are becoming too fickle about our gaming technology. Everything is about polygon counts, different methods of lighting, and fancy texture manipulation. You didn't see any of that in Final Fantasy XI (FF3 U.S) and that game has more gameplay and storyline intrigue than all of the games in the current generation combined. Yet, like a dead leaf standing against the wind, it is futile to go against the mechanical push of technology. In fact as early as March 2002, Sony was already seeding the rumors of its successor to the Playstation 2, which many in the media surreptitiously found out was being called Cell by Sony insiders. Microsoft countered in October 2002 with an announcement that they would have their successor out before Sony's. Nintendo, fairly late to the gates compared to its competitors, announced at this years E3 that a successor called the N5 would be released in Japan by the end of 2004 (and I'm a woman named Sue).
Regardless of the rumors, and speculation, it's obvious the major companies are making moves towards the next generation of gaming before this one has even seen its prime. Hopefully each of the big three (Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony) realize that what they do now will have a heavy effect on the successes of their next generation consoles. The VGLN.com staff and forum members recently had an enlightened discussion about what each company needed to do in the next generation to either maintain their success or increase their fortunes the next time around. One question that was posed was, "What were the advantages and disadvantages each company would carry into the next generation?" Here's a summary of some of the replies.
Jolex Del Pilar, Lead Editor
In the next generation, the PS3 (or whatever Sony chooses to call it) will easily have the largest lead over its competitors. The system has a huge user base with which to build from. But to answer the question, here are the advantages that each company will take into the next generation if the CEOs of these companies are worth their weights in money bags.
PS3 - Huge User base. Sony must take advantage of backward compatibility again. They don't have to do much more then what they are already doing which is; 1)providing often superior software, 2)enhancing the options of their platform (DVD playback, TIVO, HDTV Support), and 3)answering the calls of their user base (online play, hard drive).
The PS3 demo hardware showed off earlier this year at CES displayed amazing graphical capability. Who knows how this will translate when the hardware is finalized?
Xbox 2 - The company is experiencing a growth in its user base. By the next generation, I expect this support to be much bigger. Their key franchise titles include Halo, Dead or Alive, and their numerous sports games. If Microsoft tries to get a more varied palette of software, they might give Sony a run for their money. You have to give the company credit for making great moves in the online arena though.
Gamecube 2 - It must be said. Nintendo needs to dump the following people: Satoru Iwata, Shigeru Miyamoto, and the rest of the old guard from the executive board. I highly respect Miyamoto but he has made some blunders in the past couple of years (N64 cartridge format anyone?). Miyamoto's legendary status has always been from the results of his work as a designer. Make sure he sticks to designing. Nintendo understands the creative aspect of gaming, but seems to know nothing of the intracies of an older audience. Mario Party may satisfy the children, but it takes a lot more to satisfy the children who are now grown up and are working 9-5. Nintendo exhibits great 1st party support every generation which is confusing because its 3rd party support is always, nearly, non-existant or lacking. Nintendo must make the environment for its 3rd party developers much more friendly. This means, creative freedom, hardware support people for developers (MS and Sony do this already), and of course lower royalties for developing on the Gamecube. These suggestions may not bring Nintendo back to the top spot, but it will alleviate the problems that are plaguing the company right now.
Joe Soria, Contributor
Well everyone knows I'm so tired of hearing the whole Iwata "Nintendo will continue to revolutionize the video game industry because of connectivity" speech.
It would be nice if they had some games for people to want to connect with.
C'mon im sure they are going to make a HUGE marketing push for the Pac-man title, which is kind of cool but after the intial 5 minutes its already old.
I almost fell asleep from the circle jerk at the E3 press conference, while they had the whole connectivity thing going with Pac man.
So connectivity is not a huge selling point with Nintendo.
If anything their market should be all the older gamers who remember the classics of their time, Nintendo should be a rehash monster, churning up the games from when I and a lot of the video gamers who buy games were growing up as well.
If Nintendo had been or begins to start doing this I think a lot of the developers and gamers will start to flock to the system.
C'mon they're bringing out Resident Evil Code Veronica and they expect people to salivate as if its a must buy.
Is Nintendo as a company consumed with having all of the Resident evil titles on their system? Apparently they are.
Oh well here I am starting to lash out at Mario's Pad, and I'm gonna stop for now, I'll start up again later. Believe me.
Phillip Duff, Contributor
One of the best features the next gen consoles can have is backwards compatibility. I read somewhere that all the new Playstations will be backwards compatible with the previous incarnations so, basically, you could play Tekken 2 on the Playstation 5. I do not know how this may fare when new digital mediums make their appearance but there you go. If Microsoft and Nintendo want increased sales, they will need to look into this.
And, of course, there is the online component. Microsoft has gone to great lengths to provide a great system for playing online with XBox Live. I do not know if it is necessarily better than Sony's system but it is certainly much better than whatever Nintendo has currently. The Big N needs to have some sort of online plan for the Gamecube 2 or else they will, much like their former competitor, Sega, be kicked out of the console race.
This leads to the final point: games. Nintendo has a big advantage in this arena with their Mario, Zelda, et al. franchises that we all grew up with. The other two, however, also sport some impressive titles. Microsoft has done well in its rookie career with having such games as Halo, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. And then there is Sony with Metal Gear Solid, Gran Turismo, and Grand Theft Auto.
Kyle Johnson, Staff Writer
Honestly, I don't think any of them have an advantage right now. There's no real information out right now on any of the systems. I think once more information is available, then a clear advantage for one of them can be determined.
Preliminary advantage would go to PlayStation 3. It's got the fan support of all the current PlayStation 2 owners, and possibly more gamers than that. And not to mention it has the Japanese market by the throat.
Xbox 2, I think would have the 2nd advantage. With Xbox becoming more and more popular among gamers and game companies, it should prove interesting to see what Microsoft has up its sleeves for Xbox 2.
GameCube 2 may do well, but if the GameCube is any indication, it won't be very good unless Nintendo has been holding back. But with games like Zelda and Super Smash Brothers, there's no doubt the GameCube 2 would sell.
If you would like to contribute to this article come visit the VGLN.com forum thread on the subject and leave your input there. We will be updating this article throughout the week with new submissions, so get posting!
--- VGLN Staff