At just over 40 years old, the gaming industry is approaching a fresh generation of living room entertainment with the newest set of video game consoles. Nintendo’s brand-new console, the WiiU, was released on Nov. 18. This release marked the beginning of the eighth generation of video games.
Sony is set to make a big announcement on the 20th of this month, in which people speculate will be the reveal of the PlayStation 4; despite Sony releasing a statement that it will not announce the PlayStation 3’s successor until Microsoft makes its move.
It is no secret that Microsoft is producing a sequel to the vastly popular Xbox 360 (expected to be named Xbox 720, but for now still under the official code name, Durango). Microsoft fans are buzzing for the next iteration of the Xbox.
With some of the unconfirmed, but highly probable and likely, details we Xbox fans have seen (such as 8GB of RAM and an eight-core CPU), this eighth generation will surely be a revolutionary one.
While Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft, are the expected contributors to the eighth generation, there are some new contenders on the market, too. PC gaming’s dominating platform, Steam, owned by VALVe, has shown its interest in the console market by showing off the Piston.
An independent project by Julie Uhrman (IGN, Gamefly) was announced on Kickstarter in July 2012 about an Android-powered cloud console dubbed the OUYA, very similar in concept and design to VALVe’s Piston. Uhrman is trying to raise $95 million to create and mass-produce the OUYA.
Now that there is more than the usual three consoles on the market, what will this do to the already-established console making companies? The gaming industry will not be dramatically effected by the release of the Piston or the OUYA.
I predict that Microsoft will continue to hold its dominance in the world of console gaming because of its sheer superiority. Although the PlayStation 3 has features like free online play and a built-in BluRay player, the Xbox 360 dominates markets and living rooms all across the world, save Japan, just as it should.
The Xbox 360 features quality exclusives (not just money-milking titles and what I like to call “cannon fodder” games), a party system so that you can talk to your friends while they are playing a different game than you, and a non-hackable and incomparable online experience (however, not without the $60-a-year fee that Sony fanboys love to bring up. I would rather pay for quality than have a slipshod product for free).
In an all-new idea in which the tiny box can link to your PC to play games from your Steam account onto the big screen, it would seem that VALVe and Xi3 have eliminated the need for plugging your PC into your TV, or using a USB controller on PC games that normally require a mouse and keyboard.
One unique thing about the Piston is its ability to easily switch out drivers, cards, RAM, etc., to upgrade your hardware. Up until this point, VALVe has been a software-only company. The Piston will be the very first piece of hardware that VALVe has made (in conjunction with Xi3, a primarily-hardware company).
No one is quite sure how the consumer reaction will be, considering “PC gamers” and “console gamers” normally to not see eye-to-eye and oftentimes feud and argue about which method of playing is superior.
In these debates on superiority, you must choose a side based on what you prefer. Essentially, it comes down to whether you like casual games with friends and creating your own original content, or fierce online competition. PC gaming wins the former with games like Garry’s Mod (a game that enables you to pretty much craft your own game).
Both consoles and PC provide the competitive part of gaming that so many gamers love (myself included) but with different areas focused on in different ways. For example, most PC game’s controls can be mapped (meaning you can choose which button does what) whereas console games have predetermined control layouts. This is often looked at as giving one player and advantage over another because of the way they can change their control scheme. This is just one example of subtle differences that people will argue about.