Next Gen Consoles, Corporations and Consumerism
by, 11th June 2013 at 07:53 PM (9004 Views)
Firstly, I should make it clear that this isn't a "pro PC" "anti Console" or other sort of platform bias. I've been doing a fair bit of investigation and prodding around with information from before and during E3 whilst I help look after someone's PR for it.
What does someone want in a console?
Get home from school/work/the pub and you want to relax.
Feet up on the sofa.
Controller in hand.
Unwind with game of choice.
That game "only" cost £30. The console was a max of £200.
So what has changed?
Time, to start with. At no point did anyone intelligent sit and think "in 2013, we'll still be playing on antiquated platforms designed for a single purpose with any other functionality added on as an afterthought". The companies punting us this hardware have been saying something like "Let's keep punting something they don't need because it's making us a shedload of cash".
Why is that? Why don't we need consoles?
The Xbox One is the nearest thing we've had to what we "should" have. An all in one, unified entertainment system handling most of what we need for our large screen TVs. If the already debunked rumours of Sky handing XB1's out instead of HD boxes I'd be even happier, but there's no reason for anyone to have optical media players, streaming boxes, tivos/sky+ hardware and gaming consoles. So why don't we? Because it won't make them as much money. If Microsoft had brought out the Xbox One with 360's base specs and getting rid of the preowned/internet connection issues, I would be confident in saying Sony would have long pulled out of the console race and concentrated on handhelds, or perhaps unified TVs instead.
We're being held back because of money. That's only natural, they're corporations and they exist only to profit. Fair enough, but *we* collectively are making it happen. It would be naive of anyone to think for a moment that anyone actually wants things to improve.
So is that all?
No, of course not. Cost. The cost of modern consoles are ridiculous.
Let's use the Playstation 4 as a base example because it's the cheaper of the two next gen consoles.
The unit on it's own costs £350. Controllers have been cited to cost upwards of £90 but I don't believe that - let's say £50 is a more realistic figure (but still expensive for what they are). Game prices are the most expensive at £55 a shot. It would be fair to say from industry experience that £400-420 would see people walk away with a bundle of console, game and extra controller. I'll therefore use £420 as the total starting cost.
That's a high cost, and not even including the £5 monthly for the online gubbins. "But you get a free game every month!" I hear you cry. Oh, woopy doo.
Back to my first point, in an ideal world we'd have a unified system for home entertainment and the vast majority of people (excluding the tinkerers and enthusiasts like many of us) would need nothing more than a laptop or really basic PC for "office" duties. A chromebook or cloud based system would more than suffice in this day and age.
But as we're being forced to keep on down the console route, it's right I continue to make this point.
£350 will get you a decent off the shelf system. A core i5. Maybe not the dog's nads, but good enough. Memory costs nothing. That system on it's own will be enough for casual gaming and quite a lot of other more powerful 3D games besides, especially if you're talking the AMD FX range. That includes OS and everything else you'd need.
Obviously that's not quite equal stakes - add some zombies, guns and full "HD" graphics. You'd need a beefier graphics card. £130 is more than sufficient to run anything on a core i5 at 1920x1080 (eww, horrible TV resolution!)
So that's £470 for something that'll be equal, at least in terms of the quality and playability of the games, to the next gen consoles. That's £50 more than a console.
But it's not just about the consoles though. One thing we do know, is the cost of the games.
The confirmed pricing for several AAA titles so far has been cited as:
PS4 - £55
XBOne - £54
PC - £30
So that extra cost would be saved buying the same AAA title just over twice on PC compared to console.
Oh, you might want a controller for your PC. So that's £20 for the Xbox controller (don't fix what isn't broke!). That's the difference in price for 1 game. Maybe you want 2, but let's face it, a PC isn't a console and you probably won't be hooking it up to your TV for after-pub COD with your mates.
Or should you? Why not in this day and age?
My PC starts up faster than your current gen console. It's not stupidly powerful.
Once installed, so do the games.
"PC's can go wrong!"
So can your Mac Pros, your Xboxes, your Playstation 3s and your Toaster.
"You wouldn't have to wait for your mate who knows computers down the pub to fix your console!"
No, you'd have to wait to deal with some warranty muppet or the same support centre in Delhi. And they won't just swap out that one faulty part, or the one bit you spilled coffee on/jammed pizza in.
This isn't the dark ages. It's more than possible, with no tinkering or difficulty involved, to get a PC up and running easily. It's rarely any less "plug and go" than that console when you first got it and spent more time setting up your bloody Wee-Mee's, avatars, xbox online profiles, inside leg measurements and selling your soul to EA sports in that licence agreement you didn't read.
But we don't. Other than the Xbox One, the PC is the nearest thing to a unified entertainment system we have. But it shouldn't need to be; the PC should need be little more than a typewriter that blogs. We all do that on phones anyway, so typewriter is probably about as advanced as it need get for the majority. The PC (or indeed Mac) knows it's place and isn't holding the world's entertainment industry back. Consoles are.
As usual, this is of course opinion and I've tried to keep unbiased on it. My interest is always value for money and actual betterment of our experience, digitally, financially, personally. When we're being artificially held back, it doesn't sit right with me and I like to vent about it. So if you're on my facebook friends, you've already had half this rant anyway
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