It’s no secret that video game consoles developed by current modern standards aren’t really lasting as long as their predecessors did. This isn’t to say that they’re less developed or technologically inferior, of course, quite the contrary. In an odd twist of fate, the more progress we seem to make the faster our creations appear to be outmoded. Even still, there are many dedicated users of now obsolete consoles who would disagree with any notions about lifespan altogether. New generations of gamers are actually taking to the retro scene as if it were the main attraction, sometimes even avoiding the mainstream flagship machines like the PS4 and Xbox One entirely. The question is – how long or short is the current average console’s life? Furthermore, we have to ask ourselves at some point yet another important question – what does this mean for the future of gaming?
Technology is moving faster and faster, and what’s awesome today won’t be tomorrow. If we fast-forward 3 years, there might be something better on the market from the likes of Nintendo or another competitor. PC’s are always ahead with specifications, that’s if you’ve got the funding to buy or build a great rig. What date do Sony and Microsft have penciled down for the likley PS5 and XBOX 2?
The PlayStation 1 released in 1994, the PlayStation 2 in 2000, the PlayStation 3 in 2006 and the PS4 in 2013. The general trend being 6 years for each release. The difference between then and now is that technology is accelerating at a tremdous rate. You’d never have thought that our smartphones are now more powerful than the offering of the PS2.
The 4 year theory
Again, depending on who you talk to, you’re likely to get many different answers when it comes to the average lifespan of a modern console. The general figures we tend to accept of course is between 3 to 5 years, with most estimations now tending toward the shorter time span. Examples like the PS3 seem to clearly outline such notions, even though such offerings tend to stay within the confines of the same base group. For instance, you might have a console like the PlayStation 3 releasing and within a span of 3 years there is a “slim” model produced. For all intents and purposes, this seems to be the current standard with regards to production rollouts, even the PS4 seems to be poised to follow suit as there’s been talk of a slim release in the works. This would actually mean that the time between original to slim seems to be shrinking, if we are to simply look at the data.
Let’s assume for a second that this trend continues… You’d think that, eventually, a new console would be dropping nearly every year. Of course we know that such a thing would really be illogical or even impossible to sustain from a financial standpoint. I mean, developing and manufacturing a console requires not only sizable investment but also time and energy, and that doesn’t even account for consumer trends and how much spare cash they might have to spend at any given time. Clearly, even if Sony was able to roll out a new console every year people likely wouldn’t feel right with the situation.
Is it too short?
Naturally, this beckons the question – does this mean that release dates and life spans are really too short? In a perfect world, we would only need one console that would be capable of playing nearly any game and require no upgrading whatsoever for years upon years. Of course such thinking is clearly wishful, as in reality we’re still in the process of progressing, technologically speaking. In other words, the need to create new consoles isn’t borne out of a desire to shortchange or juice the markets so much as it is about integrating new hardware and software, as well as enhance gameplay with new capabilities. Still though, it seems as though the cycle of upgrading is a bit on the short side.
In all likelihood there will soon come a time when a certain technological “wall” is reached – where replacement is no longer a major concern. It is believed that such an event will probably emerge alongside the commercial release of quantum computers and/or truly realistic engines which are able to replicate game worlds in such lifelike detail that they are indistinguishable from the world around you. How long might we have to wait for such things to come our way? Who knows?
What does this mean for the future of gaming?
It could be argued that none of it really matters at all because video gaming is becoming one of the more profitable mainstream entertainment markets, challenging and beating movies, music, tv and other forms. Inside of this paradigm we find legions of gamers, each at home in their own little sphere of influence. It’s also rumoured that Nintendo are working on a new console – which could disrupt PS4 and XBOX One sales within the coming years. The aforementioned retro crowd have literally found new ways to make seemingly antiquated things appealing again, and this in turn has jumpstarted all new developments which pair modern technology with decidedly “old school” –like elements. In this sense, all of the consoles released previously or in the future will find a home and place within the collective consciousness somewhere.
When we turn toward commercialism however, we definitely seem to be headed toward a plateau of sorts… A place where console makers like Sony or Microsoft need not produce a new machine ever few years, instead opting to build one super-powered console that might theoretically last a decade or more. Again, if the mythical graphical realism wall is breached and the hardware is there to replicate reality in this manner, that’s almost as far as things can go. At that point, everyone’s attentions might even turn elsewhere, who knows, right? Guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
What do you think the lifespan will be before Microsoft or Sony decides to release their next gaming consoles? Let us know in the comment box below.