Will the next generation of Xbox simply be a PC?
Stop and think about it for a minute before shouting “no” at this article. It’s something that’s been playing on my mind now for some time and I think it’s inevitable and makes sense that Microsoft merge the two platforms.
I think I need to lay the following fact on the table before continuing. I own all consoles and play games most evenings, plus I love the current generation of consoles and what they have done over the past 4+ years in developing the games we all play, but I think that right here, right now, both the Playstation3 and the Xbox 360 are holding back video games because parts of their abilities are showing its age.
OK, so we all know how both Sony & Microsoft (and Nintendo to a lesser extent) have been aiming for the all conquering single box that will take over your living room and be your entertainment hub for just about everything but in my opinion both consoles have one major flaw that will prevent them from becoming that single box. What is it I hear you ask? The ability to upgrade the key power components i.e. graphics, sound and processor.
The Xbox 360 is over 4 years old, and the Playstation3 over 3 years old and the graphics are starting to look dated in all but the AAA++ games. Uncharted 2 and God of War 3 are both stunning looking games but due to the low resolution both games are displayed in, the games don’t look as good as they would on a power gaming PC. I played Modern Warfare 2 on both the PC and Xbox 360, and the PC version simply walks all over the Xbox 360 version in terms of visuals. You have the ability to connect an Xbox 360 controller to the PC and you can connect a PC directly to most modern TVs, so why would you not play it on a PC?
Standard internet services that we all take for granted on PC are being developed and rolled out regularly on PSN and Xbox Live!, e.g. Facebook and Twitter integration, general browsing. Instead of wasting money developing ways to push these features onto our consoles, would the research and development time not be better spent on bringing the gaming to the PC?
I guess the game that has pushed me over the edge to write this article is Gears Of War 3. We’re all waiting around for the official announcement later today but does anyone really expect it to look much better than Gears of War 2? They are working with and developing the game on the same hardware that they developed the original game on over 4 and a half years ago. By the time the game gets released it’ll be April 2011 so the console will be 5 and a half years old. When the PlayStation 2 was 5 and a half years old, just how many gamers considered the major releases to be cutting edge on the old trusty PS2?
In those 5 and a half years, how many people will have changed or upgraded their PC? Multicore processors are the standard for a home PC, graphics cards have progressed at least 2 generations
since the current crop of consoles hit the shelves. Windows 7 has been a roaring success for Microsoft and the world has quickly forgot about Vista. In short, I believe that PCs are once again king in terms of raw power and should be capable of improving the games that we will all be playing in 2010.
The so called upgrades that we are being offered this year are potentially nothing more than attempts to muscle in on the casual gaming market, currently dominated by the Nintendo Wii. Natal and Move are add-ons, a new way to control games. Not having experienced them first hand I may be speaking out of turn but these motion controls do not increase the power of the machine therefore the games themselves will not break through the next level of graphical realism.
I’m sure many of you who have read this far are fuming and are ready to call me a PC fanboy because you think that console games look so good these days but answer this question…what’s next? Where are the improvements going to come from? No new consoles have been announced so we could be stuck with the ones were have now for the next 5 years.
Back to answering my opening question, “Will the next generation of Xbox simply be a PC?”
Microsoft could have identified that they would have to market a gaming PC as their main platform for the next generation a long time ago. So they introduced Games For Windows which has been improving with each version. Who is to say that the Xbox 720 will be a standalone machine, why could it not simply be released as an add-on for a PC?