The Angry Gamer – Five by Five by Five

I can’t be the only one who’s sick to death of all of this “next-gen” hype. With the advent of the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Revolution, it seems that the current consoles are quickly being swept under the rug.

We’ve come to accept that a five-year span on average is typical for consoles. So, with the PS2’s release in the fall of the 2000, a fall 2005 release for the PS3 makes sense. However, Microsoft and Nintendo don’t want to be left behind again, so if they release their new systems around the same time, we’re looking at a four-year span for the Xbox and Gamecube. Both companies have pledged to support their legacy systems for at least a year after the next-gen ones launch, but c’mon…I’ll believe that when I see it. Nintendo basically erased the N64 from existence after the Gamecube’s launch. Sony did (and still does) support the PS1, at least, so I imagine they’ll continue to crank out PS2 titles every now and then.

With handheld consoles, it’s gotten even worse. So far, we can place the blame squarely on Nintendo’s shoulders for this one. The original Game Boy was released in 1989. The Game Boy Pocket came about in 1996, but it was merely a restyled Game Boy rather than a brand new system. Then, in 1998, we got the Game Boy Color. In 2001, the Game Boy Advance. In 2003, the Game Boy Advance SP (another restyling, this time of the original GBA). In 2004, the Nintendo DS. And there’s rumors of a “Game Boy Advance 2” coming out in 2005 or 2006.

Are you seeing the disturbing pattern here? The lifespan of systems is growing ever shorter, and that royally pisses me off. If this continues, gaming could very quickly become an “early adopter” hobby; that is, if you want the best games, you must buy systems immediately upon their launch. If you wait, then it’ll be too late, as the next system will be coming out in six months, and you’ll have wasted your money. I understand that retrogaming is still a very potent force in the hobby, but that’s not where the money is. Game publishers know that money comes from the casual gamers, who’ll flock to the newest thing with the prettiest graphics on principle. It won’t surprise me in the least to see us in a two year span for gaming consoles within a decade or so. And it would be even less of a shock to see this lead into another gaming industry crash like the one in 1983 (though circumstances were obviously quite different in those days). When that happens, everyone loses.

At least I’ll still have my SNES to play with.