Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Journey Through the Seventh Generation Video Game Consoles

I've been playing video games my whole life. It all started with a Commodore 64 when I was just 3 years old, when my parents saw my love for games and fed my ambitions. So here we are in the new year (2014) and the Eighth Generation consoles are out: Wii U, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita. They are exciting. They are sleek. They are impressive. But are they worth getting as soon as they come out?

I'm not going to argue with those who want to get them on Launch Day, but the recent launches of the PS4 and Xbox One made me start to believe it might be best to wait until the NEXT next gen consoles come out before purchasing THESE next gen consoles. Reasons? I've got a few.

The first one is obvious: the price tag. While it's not going to cost you an arm & a leg to get one, the price isn't exactly on the cheap side. I remember paying $500 (minus tax) for one of the first PS3's. They were big and bulky but that meant they had super power! It was fun and cool to have one, but it didn't feel more than a year later they were thinner and cheaper. If I could of waited a year, I could of had one for $200 cheaper. Now it's not a big deal to some people, but upon retrospect, I could done some things with that $200. Most likely I would of lost it betting on long shots at the track but still, I missed out on adding another memory to my life! It may not sound like a big deal, but quickly these reasons start to snow ball.

Like the next reason: options for games. When you buy a next gen console on or close to launch day, you don't have many titles to select from. And I certainly can't think of any breakthrough games that came out specifically for that system on launch day. Take the Wii for example. When it came out, you got to play The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess right off the bat. But the difference between the game on the GameCube and the Wii? You got to swing & point your remote on the Wii and the maps were completely opposite. That's it. The graphics were the same, the enemies were the same, Link yelling when swinging his sword was the same. The reason? The game was originally made for the GameCube. When the Wii was coming out, they just added two weak features and that was that. You could make the argument that it was still cool, but when Skyward Sword came out, you could see the capabilities of the Wii come out in full force. Twilight Princess looked like child's play in terms of maximizing the Wii's controls (the game itself actually kicks ass and rivals Ocarina of Time & A Link to the Past in terms of best Zelda games ever in my opinion).

Okay, back to the topic. This is just one of many examples of the types of games coming out on launch day. They mostly are games that are ports from the last generation of systems or games that haven't maximized the new system capabilities. And you don't have that many to choose from. And as you know, video games can sometimes be a dime a dozen and finding gems can take time. You generally have to wait months for a good selection of games to come out and wait even longer to have a good collection of top notch games to choose from.

Going back to when the Wii came out, I was excited about Metroid Prime 3, but after that, what were my choices? Not much. After awhile I just stopped looking and focused only on names I recognized (Super Mario, Donkey Kong, Final Fantasy, Metroid, Zelda, etc.) About 2 weeks ago I went through the titles just for the Wii system and couldn't believe the bevy of games I missed out on! Now it's my fault I didn't pay more attention, but it goes to show how much first impressions can make.

Now let me ask you, are you better at playing games the first time through or the second time? How about the third time? I already know the answer, the more you play, the better you get. This applies to almost everything in life. So why do we expect so much flawlessness on launch day? There were lots of reports of PS4's and Xbox One's not working right out of the box. In terms of percentages it's low you are going to have problems. But what if you do have a problem? Ask all the people who got PS4's on launch day and they didn't work. They had to call Sony, be put on hold because many others are calling on launch day with "issues" such as not being technologically savvy to sync their controller to their console. Then they had to spend an hour going through every possible way to get the PS4 to work. When it doesn't work, they then had to wait for Sony to ship them a box to get it fixed or get a new one, which could take weeks. It was a hassle. So while the odds are you're going to have a good system, this is still a possibility. To me, it feels like it's better to wait it out as the console makers figure out how to perfect getting the console from the factory to your hands with as little issues as possible.

Last but not least, as technology improves, so does the console. But now you have to pay extra, rather than getting it in updated bundles. PlayStation 3 came out with Move. Xbox 360 came out with Kinect. The Wii came out with Motion Plus Controllers. The Nintendo DS came out with a larger screen, 2 cameras and an Online Store. The PSP came out with bigger storage and a microphone. Some things could be added on, some you had to buy a brand new system. The point is, if I would of waited, I wouldn't of had to spend all that money to get all the cool features. Instead, I've just donated tons of money to Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony while I'm salivating and crying at all the new features I can't have unless I want to spend more money.

The bottom line is this: to me, it's better to wait than to buy right away. If I wait for a generation to run it's course, I'll have a ton of great games to play, I can get consoles with all the best features, I can get games and consoles at great prices, to me it's win-win-win. I'm not going to argue with those who want to be on the cutting edge, but for me that time has passed. I've spent too much money being on the cutting edge only to see today's technology get passed by tomorrow's in the blink of the eye. I'm okay with letting new technology get perfected over time, at which point I can enjoy at a cheaper cost.

In the meantime, let's enjoy the great games I, and possibly you, missed out on during the Seventh Generation of consoles! Feel free to come along for the ride!

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