Ten Year Life Cycle
Recently Kaz Hirai has talked about the longevity of the current generation of consoles. Sony has always been adamant about sticking to a ten year console cycle. Some of the best games in the PlayStation 2 library came out at the end of the console’s lifespan, which supports Sony’s stance in this area. It’s apparent that Sony has a long view on the future of their brand. Do the Xbox 360 and Wii have the same longevity built in?
I think Microsoft has proven they are interested in competing long term with Sony and Nintendo. The NXE proves that fact. Unfortunately, we have to ask if the hardware can hold up for that long. Microsoft may have resolved the Red Ring of Death issue, but consoles still die untimely deaths for other reasons that aren’t covered under any additional warranty. In a few more years, will the Xbox 360 be showing its age?
If the Xbox 360’s longevity is in question, then Nintendo’s Wii doesn’t really have a chance to compete on this level. There is no question that the console will be working in eight years, but how will it hold up graphically? Without the ability to render hi-definition graphics, the Wii may be the best selling console of the three, but it is also the least powerful. To most people graphics aren’t as important as game play, but while the Xbox and PS3’s graphics improve as developers get more experience with them, the gap will widen and the Wii’s standard definition graphics will stick out like a girl at comic book store.
Is blu-ray the magic bullet in this war? Will Sony’s wager pay off big in the long run? Only time will tell, but with adoption of hi-definition televisions continuing to rise, more people will be interested in the format. Microsoft is banking on the video marketplace and Netflix for their solution, and Nintendo doesn’t seem to be aware that people watch movies. Given this, Sony doesn’t seem as crazy as we thought they were a couple years ago.
Personally, I’m not interested in purchasing a new console any time soon. While the Xbox 360 has its problems, it is still the default console for a lot of gamers and will be for the foreseeable future. Microsoft could add a blu-ray player to the Xbox much like they added the HD-DVD player, but enough rumors have been squashed that I don’t see that happening. I predict that Nintendo will have to update the Wii to output games in hi-definition. Of course, this won’t happen until the next generation or until they decide the Wii needs a refresh like the DS Lite.
How do you feel about the ten year life cycle of home consoles? Is it too long? Not long enough? Would you rather have a new console every 3 to 4 years that just has backwards compatibility?