Every five years or so, a new video game console or two comes out challenging for supremacy. When I was younger, I would always put my chips on the line in terms of the Christmas list. More often than not, Nintendo’s offering would be my selection. In my mid-twenties, I can’t get excited for this season’s competition.
Christmas and Channukah list this year will be dominated by two video game consoles. Sony will be releasing their PlayStation4, with Microsoft introducing their awkwardly named Xbox One. Both systems have differing services and features. I’m not going to walk through the differences of the machines, this is not a tech blog or Consumer Reports. Honestly? If you buy one, you’ve really just bought your new Netflix machine.
Both companies want to get you fired up about throwing another three or four hundred dollars at an entertainment machine. Yes, there are games, but the variety of games has dried up. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will both launch with titles from tried-and-trued franchises like NBA 2k, Call of Duty, and Assassin’s Creed. The fact that serial titles dominates the launch is more of an indication of the game industry itself rather than lack of enthusiasm around these new systems. Take no doubt, these machines will find their way into homes this December.
The problem is that they have more competition than ever before. In just the last lifecycle, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 just had iPods and traditional rival PC gaming to deal with. Apple‘s expansion to phones, tablets, and set top boxes coupled with Amazon’s revamped Kindle Fire have presented a real challenge to the television console. Sure, you can access Netflix and Hulu Plus on these new systems. Why would you, though?
Televisions are coming equipped with Netflix and a Roku box can now play games you may have previously accessed only on a phone. Apple’s iPad line has made entertainment at a reasonable size accessible in just about every area. To wit: I own an iPad mini. It is the primary device I watch streaming media on, despite access on my computer, television, and PlayStation3. Which makes me wonder if I should want a PlayStation4 now.
My PS3 is still a viable gaming machine and won’t reach obsolescence for about two years. All of the other things I could use it for can be found on other devices. As far as games, my interest has waned a bit given the relative lack of breadth of current titles. Eventually, I’ll probably want a PlayStation 4, just to have a newer BluRay player and access to whatever version of EA Sports NHL series is available at the time. Do I need one now? Not when I have a tablet.