RIP consoles?

We’re now several months into the self appointed “next gen” of consoles (apparently Nintendo’d Wii U wasn’t either powerful enough or didn’t sell enough to warrant a proper start) and so far the Xbox One and the PS4 have left me rather underwhelmed. Reading various technical articles all over the shop, from Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry, to Ars Technica, Anandtech and Toms Hardware, it’s evident that at least initially the next gen are still failing to deliver on the promises of their predecessors– namely 1080P gaming at 60FPS. Anyone else remember the promise of full HD gaming that Sony made when the “real next gen [apparently] starts here” with the PS3 release?

The difference between PC and consoles has never been narrower in a sense. Mini ATX and ITX systems are now a hell of a lot smaller than the enormous towers that PCs used to come in, yet can still comfortably outperform the new consoles for relatively little difference in price. By relatively different, consider a Core i5 PC with a Nvidia GTX 770 onboard that cost around £650. Yes, that’s around the price of both the PS4 and the Xbox One added together but pop Steam on there and you wont have to buy many games before you’re not only playing games that look better but you’re quids in too. A coherent ecosystem has always been the other big differentiator between PC and console but the progression of Steam (and Origin) over the last few years has made this a lot less of a compelling reason to chose one over the other.

£50 in a sense isn’t a lot for a new release on the new consoles- in fact if you apply inflation to the cost of a Sega Megadrive or SNES game, we’re still quids in but if you want to buy something like Titanfall, you can pick the PC version up for £31 via download, or the Xbox One version for £45 (both prices taken from the same online retailer). That’s not an unusual price differential, and you don’t need to be a maths boffin to work out how many games you’d need to buy to recoup the initial outlay. And lets not forget the barely above 720P resolution and sometimes sub 30FPS issues that Titanfall has been accused of having on the Xbox One.

And that’s before you consider that you can incrementally upgrade your PC over the next few years, whilst the Xbox One and PS4 are frozen in time for years at a spec that is already superseded by high end PCs. Today most PC games laugh at 1080P being “low” resolution but the new consoles can’t manage it without making concessions elsewhere- what’s the difference likely to be in a couple of years time? At the high end mindblowing but at the middle? Perhaps the price difference between a PC that can cope with 1080P 60FPS with considerably more bells and whistles than the consoles will have come down dramatically…

This is the first generation of consoles that I’ve not adopted at least one machine by this point and the I can’t say I’m disappointed.

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