Diehard GameFAN Presents: Discussion on the Playstation 4, Xbox One, and What We Know (and Don’t).

At this point, we’re a few weeks out from E3, and both Sony and Microsoft have made their initial announcements for their next generation consoles, dubbed the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One. While we don’t know everything about the consoles, we know a lot of interesting, if not especially exciting, information. We know the general technical specs for both consoles: both are running an 8 core x86 AMD Chipset, both have 8GB of onboard RAM, both are equipped with a Blu-ray drive, and both are focused in different directions tech wise. Both systems have moved away from Power-based chipsets, which both companies are using as an excuse for a lack of backwards compatibility, even though Apple found a way around that eight years ago. Both consoles are looking toward cloud computing, albeit from different perspectives. Both companies have awkwardly addressed the idea of used games, between Sony’s incredibly vague and guarded response and the “hot mess” that was Microsoft’s here there and everywhere, completely non-committal answer that, as of now, answers nothing. As of right now, the rumors are flying fast and furious, and the facts (minimal as they are) are doing nothing to reassure gamers, and the general responses to both companies has been all over the place. Rather than report on rumors, we here at Diehard GameFAN spent the past two days discussing the consoles in the wake of the Xbox One announcement, and since there was a substantial amount of discussion, we thought it best to share our thoughts with you, the readers. Maybe you’ll agree, maybe you’ll disagree, maybe you’ll call us fanboys and fangirls, and that’s all understandable. This is what we took away from the announcements, at this point, however, for better or worse.

Mostly worse.

Matt Yaeger: I want to hear more about them, but the conferences weren’t exactly selling me on one, especially not the Xbox One conference. But as much as I’ll bitch about the TV tuner functionality, that is something I’d be interested in. I’d want something like that as an entertainment device. I mean if this was a next gen Roku or NetflixBox presentation I’d be all on board that sucker. As a gaming device they need to clear some shit up.

Cloud processing sounds like bullshit that most folks will avoid or utilize half-assed.

I want to know more about this game install stuff. If it’s required, how the game is able to check offline if it’s been installed on another device, if there are pricing tiers, etc. Maybe Microsoft is getting into the used game business in a weird way, like letting you sell your user license to another user for a fee. If they did that they’d essentially be taking Gamestop’s business model away from them and it would work for digital downloads. If so would they run a marketplace for that sort of thing? Who knows. All we do know is that Microsoft is saying the initial announcements weren’t correct, and their current strategy for used games and game activation is an ever evolving one. Maybe it’s just me, but I really thought that when they made their reveal, they’d already know how we might play video games on their video game console.

I don’t know what I think would be worse, that they either were so unfocused on the video game part that they actually didn’t have a plan about what happens when you put a game in the fucking thing… or… based purely off of an afternoon of terrible feedback they completely didn’t see coming they’re changing their plans in a panic. I have doubts about a global company suddenly changing their plans due to negative feedback, I mean it’s not like that’s ever stopped Microsoft before (or Ubisoft, or EA, or Activision, or any major company). The alternative is also dumb though.

I don’t know what strings are attached, either. I currently buy $5-15 games on XBLA (some of my favorite games have been from there). If the strings attached aren’t any different that Steam’s strings (allow you to play in offline mode, etc) then aside from the price of high profile titles there’s not really much of a difference. GTA V may be the only game I’ll spend $60 this year, so it’s not like I’m advocating spending $60, just that what they’re proposing, in concept, doesn’t sound all that different than Steam to me.

Though, fuck man, I wonder if this means XBLA titles will not function like PSN games on the PS4. Fucking A. I literally have over 100 titles on my system. I get what Microsoft means by “If you’re backwards compatible, you’re really backwards,” but as someone with a large library of XBLA games that in a few years may no longer be available to redownload if my Xbox crashes, fuck him. Once they hit the off switch on Xbox Live for the 360, even if my console works, there goes all my Indie Games and any titles that I haven’t yet moved the license of (I’ve got device licenses across 4 Xbox consoles that I’d better start merging).

I’d also like to hear how Microsoft expects countries they don’t offer Xbox Live in to authenticate games, but right now the message about the gaming side of the Xbox Uno remains less clear than it was before the conference. I know more about their media plans than anything else.

I’m backlogged so bad I don’t know when I’ll see the end of my game piles, so I’m not in a hurry to pass judgment on if I’d buy a next gen console. But man, the presentation was not directed towards my interests.

Sean Madson: I actually would’ve been fine with the terrible conference since, let’s face it, when’s the last time Microsoft has had a good one. But the possibility of the fee they’re charging for playing used games and the no backwards compatibility that was revealed after the conference was over just absolutely killed it for me. I think the Wii U is going to be my favorite console this next generation and I feel that there’s something fundamentally wrong with that. Based on the idea of licensing of used games and possible fees for licenses, Gamestop and Gamefly are both basically fucked if that’s true.

Honestly, I think I’m MORE angry a day later now that I’ve not only had more time to mull over it, but Microsoft has had an entire day to get their facts straight between their people and they haven’t done it. AN ENTIRE DAY.

And what irks me more than anything is being told to wait for them to clarify or jump ship to PC’s. In regards to waiting until E3, why should I? What could possibly be so important that they’d have to wait two weeks to say “this is how it is”? You’re either bending me over, or you’re not; why wait to tell me?

As for PC gaming, I can see the value of Steam. It’s convenient, the games are dirt cheap, and I have spent money on the service. But there’s a reason that the PC is not my primary platform of choice besides having a preference of controllers vs keyboard/mouse (which is an entirely different discussion): I really don’t feel like I own the games. Valve can flip the switch on their servers and my entire investment is gone. And even if we take THAT out of the equation, I make a living troubleshooting problems with computers. Maintaining a gaming PC can take a lot of troubleshooting in regards to parts and compatibility. And even when you clear those hurdles, sometimes shit doesn’t work and will require further research. I spend all day fixing problems, I don’t want to spend my personal time doing it in order to enjoy my hobby. Console gaming is supposed to avoid all of that bullshit. This is how I can justify the added cost of the games on those platforms. “Well, maybe if you were better at your job…” No. Fuck you. It’s my money and I’ll spend it on whatever conveniences I damn well please. And I spend a depressing amount on games from year to year on both new and used games. And if Microsoft and Sony no longer want a piece of that pie, that’s on them. There are games from older platforms that I’m still interested in playing, and what do you know, they all still work. Brick and mortar retro video game stores and random people on eBay can have my money, because console manufacturers have gone out of their way to tell me that they don’t want it.

I know the whole Kinect thing was mentioned briefly, but it seems Microsoft is even being vague about what happens if your Kinect is unplugged when you turn Xbox One on (if it will even turn on at all). The Wii U is shaping up to be my last console. I can handle a bad press conference and all of the lip service about being an all-in-one entertainment device. But I won’t tolerate being antagonized as a consumer by a device that I invested hundreds of dollars in. My buying habits rely on purchasing both used and new games, and I don’t have room in my living room for Kinect functionality in every game (and whether or not I do in my next house is beside the point). Both Sony and Microsoft need to stop playing coy and clear up their bullshit or I’m out. I’m so disgusted that this is even being considered that I may be out anyway.

I have a backlog deep enough that both Sony and Microsoft can flounder for few more years before I even begin to consider picking up one of their consoles. My sincere hope is that the average gamer can cut through the bullshit and see what a poor investment this is with how little they are offering. Perhaps they’ll rethink their strategy after riding on the struggle bus for a bit.

Unfortunately, the average gamer isn’t very good at not being sheep when it comes to companies bending them over, so I guess we’ll see what happens.

Crystal Steltenpohl: All I could think while reading all of these updates is, “PC MASTER RACE!” Fuck this next generation of consoles.

I have absolutely no issues with staying with Steam. I have never had issues with them. I am able to play my games when I want, even with the internet issues I sometimes have, I don’t have to pay to talk to my friends, and I can even use voice chat! Amazing, isn’t it? (That was a joke.) And Steam isn’t the only alternative, like Alex said. GOG is a great resource as well. I’ll continue to stay away from Origin, I’ll stick with Steam and GOG, and the money I save can go toward upgrading my computer when the time comes (that’ll be a while) or MMOs or something. Rift and SW:TOR are worth dumping a couple bucks into now and then, so I’ll be happy to do that.

I already pay enough money for things I NEED that end up screwing me over (school, medical costs, etc.)… I have no interest in having something I ENJOY screwing me over. Like probably everyone on staff, I have enough of a backlog that I’ll be just fine without having the next gen. I have never gotten a console day one and it looks like I won’t ever do so, if things keep going this way.

I am tired of people calling me (and others like me) entitled for having an opinion on the stuff *I* buy. Look, I’m not telling you that you have to make games the way I want you to make them. I’m even okay with you charging more than the game is worth (to an extent). I am not okay when the system gets set up in a way where I literally can’t afford it. The PS4 not having backwards compatibility meant nothing to me, because I don’t have a PS3, and most of my PS2 games weren’t likely to get rereleased in any case. I thought, surely Microsoft wouldn’t be that stupid. I think it was Matt or Mark or someone who had earlier echoed my thoughts in saying that Microsoft would literally only have to say, “You guys can play your old games on this!” and have an edge on the PS4. They would have had my vote in any case. And now they’ve lost that, because screw anyone who tells me I can’t borrow a game from my friend or buy used on occasion like I have been doing my entire life, starting from the Atari 2600 and the NES. (Steam only gets away with that because they have sales so often and give out coupons like there’s no tomorrow, and even then I’m not wholly pleased there.)

I have enough of a backlog that I can survive without these consoles. I have consoles that will allow me to borrow games from Mark, Ashe, Sean, Matt and others should they have a game that I don’t that I want to play. I have OTHER HOBBIES I can spend time and money on. I can watch movies or read books or play sports or whatever. I owe the gaming industry nothing that requires me to have the newest thing and like I’ve shown with Origin (the content delivery service, that is) if I say I won’t buy something unless the system changes, I mean it. Screw the customer over, and you’ll screw yourself over. I won’t have any of it.

I haven’t been this disappointed in a long time, guys.

Ashe Collins: See I thought that PS4 stuff like Mobile and the PSN games would work. I’m betting that both of them are going to have emulation within the first year for older titles. Especially PSN/Live titles.

I haven’t seen much of anything from either camp that makes me want a new one. The only reason I’m leaning on a PS4 at this point is I’ve never gotten one at launch and I’ve had every Sony console so far. What I’ve seen so far I may be waiting awhile. Might just upgrade my laptop again.

I will be highly surprised if Microsoft changes their speculated game license announcement all that much, maybe define the key for the game better. Either way it’s a terrible system. Thinking on it, that’s the SAME FUCKING SYSTEM they used for Windows XP. Limited installs per disc for an OPERATING SYSTEM, that you had to dial in or call in to activate or it quit working and heaven help you if you changed your video card or something else important for your computer to function because you’d be reactivating it. Oh what’s that? I’m sorry you’re going to have to call us to reactivate because you’ve hit your limit on reactivations even though you’ve never contacted us and only installed it once.

It was a shit idea when they did it then and it’s a shit idea now. I can’t see anything wrong with this AT ALL. No wonder EA is getting rid of their online pass, Microsoft is giving them a whole second sale! And just because Sony is being coy about it, doesn’t mean they aren’t ready to do it too.

While I think both camps have seemed to lost their grip on the reality of their own markets, at least Sony has the sense to keep tight lipped about it. MS just keeps going and going digging a deeper and deeper hole.

The thing with Steam, as a comparison point, is that they are installed on your system. So even if Steam takes a shit, whatever you have installed can stay with you. Steam actually works offline. So while I don’t have a disc, as long as that program is on a working PC (I still have my old freaking tower) you still have them. The problem would be should that PC or hard drive die, and then it can get sticky.

I did see that they’re supporting current gen until 2017…a whopping FOUR MORE YEARS.

I’m really hoping one of them impresses at E3, but I don’t think that’ll happen.

Alex Lucard: This will be the bursting of the gaming bubble right here. Given the choice between high quality $5-20 games that you’ll be able to play on your next computer or $60 games with all sorts of strings attached? This is more and more why I happily play games on older consoles or get things from GOG. At this point, both companies have already said there won’t be backwards compatibility, according to Wired and a few other professional publications, which is insane. 360 owners are as screwed as PS3 owners. It’s not a good time to be a gamer.

From reading the various reports and Microsoft’s own FAQ sheet, several things are horribly apparent.

1) It’s not backwards compatible at all, be it XBLA titles or physical discs.

2) “No, it does not have to be always connected, but Xbox One does require a connection to the Internet.” means, “It doesn’t have to be connected but if you want to use it, you will need connect it at that point.” Most likely saved games, which are cloud only, will only be accessible if you have an online connection. hence the “We are also designing it so you can play games and watch Blu-ray movies and live TV if you lose your connection.” which means in its current state the One will stop functioning in all ways possible if it is not connected.

3) “Your games and entertainment are stored and saved in the cloud, so you can access them anytime, from any Xbox One.” means “You are screwed without an online connection.” as well as “Fuck any hope of being able to play this system if the Internet gets some kind of crazy upgrade or when we move on to the next generation of gaming.” (which is probably going to be true about the PS4 as well)

4) Q: Will Xbox One allow players to trade in, purchase and play pre-owned games?
A: We are designing Xbox One to enable customers to trade in and resell games. We’ll have more details to share later.

This means, you can, but with that added fee of accessing the content on the disc we’ve been hearing. So you can trade them in, but it’s like those damn EA and THQ online passes you have to pay for if you don’t purchase the game new.

None of this sounds good to me. But nothing about the PS4 sounds good either.

I’ve been saying for months now (since the first PS4 conference) that the Wii U is probably my last console. I think Sony and Microsoft have both lost track of what gamers actually want and I’m fine sticking with the Wii U or both of my current handhelds. I have hundreds of gamers for older systems that I KNOW are fun no matter how many times I play them and I don’t have to worry about an constant online connection, some sort of passcode to play them or them not working at some point because the console creator flips a switch.

These are not companies that put gamers first, ALA the pre Sammy version of Sega, but corporations that want to nickel and dime gamers in every way they can think of while also data mining them because hey, it’s something ELSE they can make money off of instead on concentrating on a fun experience.

If that means we go from talking about the next big video game release to podcasts of Mark running a game of Werewolf: The Apocalypse or retro reviews of SNES games, then so be it.

Seriously, fuck both companies and anyone who supports the sheer insanity they are proposing as the “next generation of gaming.” I can sit there and play old Saturn, Dreamcast, Genesis, Game Cube, Wii, SNES, NES, N64, Sega CD, 32X, PSX, PS2, Jaguar, Atari 2600, Lynx, Game Gear, Wonderswan, Neo*Geo and my Captain America and the Avengers arcade cabinet without any of the bullshit masquerading as form of entertainment that we’ll be seeing with the PS4 and Xbox One.

I don’t want to use the word EVIL to describe either company but holy shit, the masquerade that either even remotely cares about the consumer and their core experience with the console has been flushed down the toilet.

Aileen Coe: Good thing I have a massive backlog, because neither new console’s particularly appealing to me.

As a concept, the idea of a multipurpose device sounds good – less things to hook up to the TV, less switching devices when you decide you’re in the mood to play a game after watching a movie (or vice versa). However, should that one device go kaput, you’re basically up a creek without a paddle unless you have other devices that can fill in. The Xbox 360 was infamous for the Red Ring of Death, which doesn’t bode well for the Xbox One.

One of the reasons I like consoles is, as Sean pointed out, so that I didn’t have to worry about not being able to to run a game because my setup didn’t meet the system requirements or trying to tweak settings so that it runs more smoothly. It’s basically just plug in and play – well, except for system updates or patches. Since I now have a computer that can actually run games, I’ve been able to use Steam more and play more PC games. Prior to that I’d had the same laptop for over six years, and it stopped being able to run much of anything in the months leading up to it finally dying. With the direction the next generation of consoles seem to be going, I’ll likely end up sticking more with Steam/GOG, portables, and the consoles I currently have.

An advantage digital has over physical copies is the ability to back them up and download them to another device if something happens to your current device. With the lack of compatibility with XBLA and XBLIG (as far as I can tell from what information Microsoft’s deigned to put out so far), the Xbox One doesn’t even have that. Backwards compatibility is already limited on the 360 and PS3 (unless you got an earlier model PS3), so while it’s not a surprise the Xbox One won’t have it, it forces people to keep a 360 around if they want to play the library of 360 games they’ve built up. I can somewhat understand how backwards compatibility could be issues on both the Xbox One and PS4 due to differing OSes and internal architecture, but Sony at least seems to be considering it, unlike Microsoft’s “If you’re backwards compatible, you’re really backwards” stance (because it’s backwards to not want the games you’ve spent hundreds or thousands on to not be playable?). Add in the fact that there seems to be measures in place to prevent buying used and selling or borrowing games (though Microsoft seems to be holding the details thereof close to its chest) and there’s little to interest me about the Xbox One. But hey, it’s not they seem to care about what consumers want.

Mark B.: It felt appropriate that, as the person assembling all of this, and as someone who’s been giving Microsoft in particular the benefit of the doubt the past month, I should wrap this thing up, so here goes.

I’ve been playing video games since the Odyssey II was first brought into my house, about thirty years ago. In that time, I’ve played literally thousands of titles across practically every console and handheld released, from the major releases like the NES, Genesis and PSX to the more obscure systems like the GamePark 32, the Wonderswan and the Neo*Geo Pocket (shush Alex, it counts). I love gaming, okay? Love it. It’s been a huge part of my life growing up, and I’m about as passionate a person as you’ll meet about the subject in a broad sense, even if I’m not the sort of fan who worships any one particular franchise heavily. As much as I can be embarrassed about my hobby and those who share it with me, whether they’re calling names to members of the LGBT community, oogling the boobs of a game character, or calling women horrible names for wanting to talk about how games kind of don’t like women, I love gaming, and I always have. I’ve spent a good amount of time learning about it, studying it, to the point where I’m almost kind of proud when someone offhandedly calls me a “gaming scholar” whether it’s meant as a compliment or an insult.

That said, I am about to be very insulting for a moment. I hope you’ll indulge me.

So at this point, Sony and MS are both saying no to backwards compatibility for both physical and digital content altogether, MS is forcing activation codes for on-disc games and forcing personal control of the used game market while Sony simply said “So, used games can play on PS4. How is that?” without addressing whether or not they’d use a similar technology (which I wouldn’t even question except for the way the actual question was answered, IE, cryptically), the new Sony controller looks like the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever seen while the MS controller looks like the third stupidest, and MS is insisting you HAVE to go online at least once a day to use the console, which is THE WORST IDEA EVER which I don’t even need to address because John Motherfucking Cheese did it for me two years ago.

I mean… look, I’m tired.

I get that I personally harp on specific things a lot, but that’s because I’m honestly tired of being in the position where I’m supposed to be excited and enthusiastic about how companies are going to fuck me over tomorrow. I am a consumer who bought two of the four current generation-ish consoles day of release, and both of the current generation handhelds within the same time frame. I buy a wide variety and a large volume of games across those platforms, I dump money into online services, and up to this point I have largely been enthusiastic and somewhat optimistic about the future of gaming because I always felt like, even with economic downturns and bad decisions, games that WE as a whole wanted to play were going to continue to come out and keep us happy, Triple A or otherwise.

But to do that I have to deal with Nintendo’s archaic online service that doesn’t notify me of jack shit, featuring a download system that requires me to ship a dead console to Nintendo if I want to retrieve my old games, and that’s assuming the internal storage isn’t fucked, in which case my downloaded games are just fucking gone.

To do that I have to deal with Sony’s insistence that I have to keep THREE of their consoles hooked up in my house if I want to play their library of games because I can’t transfer shit to the PS4, which carries the undercurrent that if the PS3 dies and they either take the PSN offline (possible) or they stop making PS3’s (also possible) I can’t go back and play those games, as well as the very real possibility they might lose my information to fucking Anonymous again which would be even worse this time because they put legal jargon into their EULA for PSN that states that I waived my right to participate in class action lawsuits against them.

To do that I have to deal with Microsoft saying I HAVE to go online at least once a day to play games, cloud computing (which is STILL not secure enough that I’d be willing to share ANYTHING with it, sorry), draconian DRM to lock in games to my console which any hacker worth a shit will subvert inside of six months and which is OBVIOUSLY designed specifically to divert the used game market into their pocket while fucking me out of loaning J. Rose and Shawn PC and whoever else I know locally and abroad games and potentially fucking up my Gamefly service, and the same assessment that I can’t use my old games or redownload my old digital games to my new console because I have enough shelf space for two Microsoft consoles.

(Aside: before anyone says “PC GAMES HAVE BEEN DOING THAT FOREVER LULZ,” save your breath. PC games have been using this sort of rights management to prevent games from being copied and distributed because that’s kind of a big problem in the PC market, and it was so long before routine game trade-in was a business model. Consoles generally didn’t do this thing because hackers have to be very interested in pirating console games to really make that work effectively, and that subset of gaming piracy is fairly small on consoles that install even the most rudimentary copy protection. Any sort of licensing that is added in at this point is LITERALLY an attempt by the console manufacturers to manage the used game market, full stop, and if you disagree with me you are objectively wrong. Whether or not that’s a BAD thing is entirely up to personal opinion, and if you don’t think it is that’s your right as a consumer, but I don’t agree and I never will.)

Even if, by some miraculous act of God, both companies throw up their hands, completely abandon the need to restrict reselling and basically say “DO WHAT YOU WANT”, the fact that this discussion was even on the table is enough to make me leery of the long-term endgame. That Microsoft is backpedaling less than 24 hours after the fact from that position speaks volumes, but the fact that some people are playing Devil’s Advocate and defending the decision says that eventually this could become a reality, and that’s a reality I don’t want to be a part of.

Though one thing I will note: I’m honestly still extremely offended that BOTH companies are basically saying “we’re not making ANYTHING backwards compatible” at this point, because it reinforces the argument that nothing digital you buy is really yours. If you’re looking to expand to the digital marketplace with consoles, making me keep (so far) SIX FUCKING CONSOLES HOOKED UP AT ONE TIME is the point where I say “Nope” and give up. I ESPECIALLY love the bullshit argument put forth that they can’t do backwards compatibility because of the transition to an x86 platform, because APPLE ALREADY PROVED IT CAN BE DONE. That you are not doing so only reinforces that you literally do not care that I have invested money into your current console and would like, to use a buzzword these corporate motherfuckers know all too well, ROI on that. Oh, and as an especially direct reaction to Don Mattrick and his pithy “If you’re backwards compatible, you’re really backwards,” comment, Don,


Because if you’re going to tell me that I’m “backwards” for expecting your company, THE ONE IN THE FUCKING SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT BUSINESS, to know how to program some goddamn codecs that will allow me to be able to download digital titles onto my next generation console so I didn’t dump something like a thousand dollars into digital games I have to keep a separate console hooked up to play? If you’re going to tell me that that I’m “backwards” for expecting you to KNOW how to do this when Apple, the company your organization basically owes its existence to (well, them and Xerox), did this almost a decade ago? If you’re literally going to insult me because my view of the investment I made in your console differs from yours?

You are the anal prolapse of assholes.


I give up.

I give up!

I don’t care about Gamer Score anymore, or about owning consoles day of, or about even playing video games.

I’m tired of supporting an industry who seems to think it’s all MY fault they’re not making the amount of money they THINK they should be making, whether they’re making money at all or not (hint: they are). I’m tired of jumping through fifteen different hoops to play the games I want to play. I’d honestly sooner go back to reading books or listening to music or writing about anything that isn’t video games at this point.

I’m tired of playing by the rules of an industry who hates me for buying its products. That’s why I stopped reading comic books. That’s why I stopped watching wrestling.

I’ll just play fucking FTL for ten dollars and abuse Steam Sales to get six months out of date video games if that’s where we’re at because everyone involved in the console process is too stupid to be in charge of a lemonade stand and seems to be upset that I’m not spending ENOUGH money on their shitty games, and I’m tired of being a part of the process anymore.



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One response to “Diehard GameFAN Presents: Discussion on the Playstation 4, Xbox One, and What We Know (and Don’t).”

  1. A Shining Force Avatar
    A Shining Force

    I came across some interesting thoughts on 360-to-Xbox One backwards compatibility from “jeffbax,” replying to a gamer upset about Microsoft’s lack of it:



    “Dadgummit, the backwards compatibility is a huge deal for me. I refuse to believe that they can’t emulate their own goddamned GPU code from an X360.”

    Reply by jeffbax:

    “The CPU is likely the stumbling block, not the GPU although the 10MB of on-die memory it had could also prove hard to emulate effectively – and there’s certainly a big jump between trying to emulate an 733mhz Pentium 3 and a tri-core 3.2 Ghz PowerPC.

    “I’m more disappointed that they didn’t have a path for developers to make x86 builds for these games like Universal Binaries worked when Apple moved from PowerPC to x86 – but Apple owned all the APIs supporting the software for the most part. Gaming is a much wilder west in regard to the sheer quantity of frameworks that can go into making a game.”


    Some of my own thoughts:

    A new generation of consoles always gives one much to ponder. It can move one to reflect, because it brings important issues into sharper focus — whether they be backwards compatibility or digital rights management.

    With the state of game development and the industry as of now, continuing with Power PC or CELL architecture would likely be grossly inefficient and hamstrung in terms of power for your dollar. Add to the fact that x86 PC development has truly taken off in the last few years, and the choice of the Microsoft and Sony engineers was fairly logical and probably inevitable. CELL architecture, as a sustaining business venture for Sony, turned into a one trick pony. Continuing on with a beefed-up CELL would, unfortunately, be a almost ridiculous at this point. It was a risky economic and technological gamble that, ultimately, didn’t pay off in the end — yet it did power plenty of outstanding games, of course.

    Developers are already, with current development kits, running benchmarks and finding that the new systems have 8-10 times the power of the previous generation. AMD with its Fusion APU (combination of CPU and GPU on a single die) may be the best bet to allow this kind of (expected) generational leap in power without the thermal issues which plagued the 360 and PS3. I doubt any company wants to duplicate the hardware failure rates of the previous generation (especially Microsoft, who described the Xbox One as “near-silent running” at their conference).

    Sony announced at their PS4 conference that their purchase of streaming company Gaikai for $380 million would lead to the ability to play PS1, PS2, and PS3 games on the PS4. According to Dave Perry, the CEO of Gaikai, “The technology is so advanced that some day we could easily put PS1, PS2, PS3, and the PS Mobile games on any device, including the PS4. It would fundamentally change the concept of game longevity. … Everything everywhere is the challenge that Playstation has put before our team.” I’m highly skeptical about the quality of this proposition. Hopefully, you need only insert your original game disc to “unlock” the game stream for play on the PS4, but, yeah, we’ll have to see. Input lag may also drive this initiative down a notch. Certain RPGs would fare better than most in this regard.

    I spent quite a bit time and effort back in 2009 to acquire a working (yet used) 60Gb PS3 with full PS1 and PS2 backwards compatibility off of eBay. Unfortunately, it has come down with the yellow light of death twice. After paying to get it fixed once, I’m still debating, after a year of it not working, whether to get it fixed again. Yes, I’ve gotten worked up about backwards compatibility in the past, but I’ve since realized that two of my favorite systems, the Saturn and Dreamcast, were not backwards compatible. For some reason I don’t remember caring in the slightest about that fact at the time (I purchased a Dreamcast on 9-9-99). Yet my Genesis CDX and Nomad still garnered my respect and admiration (which has never since faded). However inconvenient, I still played them, swapping cables, etc., when the need arose (back when TVs had fewer inputs and AV switch boxes were cagey beasts). In the end, I carried on and enjoyed what these new systems and their new architectures had to offer.

    I have to admit that gaming is a different beast, so to speak, from other media, and it’s a technologically-focused and -fueled medium, propelled onward (in-part) by newer technology and advancing architecture. That doesn’t mean, as I’m sure you’d agree, Alex, that brilliant games couldn’t be made until the end of time on Sega Genesis architecture. It’s just that the impulse to expand and improve the “video” part of “video games” seems to be an inherent aspect to the industry and (possibility) the medium itself. However, it’s just a normal aspect of it and certainly not the end-all-be-all of it, as recent quality indie development has shown.

    The outcry on this used game business has, rightly-so, become a raging firestorm of bad publicity. Of course, if Sony announces a similar policy to Microsoft, they will justifiably suffer the same heat.

    I’ve been enjoying PC gaming (the kind that runs console games better than the consoles) for over a year now, and the excellent pricing on Steam, et al. have contributed greatly to the PC gaming experience as a whole. I agree, Alex: competing with reasonably-priced, digital-only distribution on PC with higher-priced console equivalents will certainly be a challenge going forward. Microsoft and Sony will have to lower the price of new digital-only games. Offering them for the same price as the boxed versions is not going to work, especially considering that new PC games continue to remain $50 vs. $60 for the consoles. Basically, that $10 extra consists of licensing fees to the console makers. Add to the fact that you can’t resell the digital-only version, and, well, changes need to occur here.

    This interesting article talks a bit about this pricing issue:


    Smaller-scale titles seem to be showing a larger growth curve, with a higher risk-reward ratio than many AAA boxed titles. Consequently, one interesting strategy that Sony has garnered as-of-late involves their new push to court and accommodate independent developers for the PS4, and the PS4 will allow for the self publishing of their titles. Microsoft currently doesn’t allow self publishing, and their attitude toward indie devs has been much less accommodating. Sony has garnered plenty of good will among devs with some of their policies in this arena. As a side note, the Wii U allows indies to self-publish as well.

    This article talks about this improved push on Sony’s part:


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