Since gaming immemorial the biggest names in consoles have always fought for your loyalty and money. Calling the market consolidated isn't enough- PlayStation, Nintendo, and Xbox are the only options a console gamer has; and most of us just really don't have the time or funds to build our own PCs.
This year alone, gaming company activity has been a flurry of leaks, events, partnerships, and rivalries, with all three companies competing for your business and trying to outcompete themselves in the process. But don't be fooled, these companies wouldn't survive without the money us consumers bring in with hardware/software purchases. Sony's Playstation alone accounted for 78% of the entire company's profits earlier this year. With hardware coming with more features and bigger price tags along with it, what does it cost to actually purchase the latest gear, and more than that, to be able to actually enjoy it?
4K and Beyond
For two out of three companies mentioned above, 4K/HDR definition and virtual reality in gaming are seemingly the only things they want to talk about. Sony hopped on the wagon with their PlayStation Meeting last month, in which they announced the PS4 Pro would have 4K/HDR and VR capability in conjunction with their newest piece of hardware, the aptly-named PlayStation VR.
Microsoft has also expressed interest in bringing 4K/VR into the Xbox family, they've had their Hololens VR product for a while, but it's used for design/manufacturing and not gaming. Instead, they've been using Facebook's Oculus Rift to support VR in their products such as Minecraft (PC only). The rumor has it that they'll continue forward with this partnership into the mysterious new console, only titled Project Scorpio which is due out in late 2017. Microsoft have planned their own Windows 10/Surface event for October 26th, but I doubt they'll stick to that script entirely. In a recent statement the company said,
"We are proud that Microsoft has chosen to expand their Xbox One family of devices with two new consoles featuring AMD's high-performance semi-custom SoCs that support revolutionary new technologies like HDR, 4K and high fidelity VR to enable the next generation of immersive gaming experiences"
Both VR products will not be sold in bundles with new consoles so don't expect a deal that way, and with Oculus Rift costing $599 to PS's VR, which is selling its "bundle" (read: just the headset and processing box, NOT a console bundle) at $499, neither one is super cost friendly. In order to even attempt to play, you have to first purchase the console, VR system, and then invest in a 4K television to display. This means the price tag for checking out the "the next generation of immersive gaming experiences" is upwards of two grand at a minimum.
…But What About Nintendo?
What about them indeed, Nintendo is the sweet but somewhat crazy grandpa of the gaming industry. Content with not being hip with the times and constantly reminiscing about how things were so much better way back when, he yells dated pop-culture references and screams "WIIIIIIIIIIIIIII", all while throwing controllers with screens and the nth version of Pokemon at our heads. I don't mind nostalgia, but not at the stake of innovation.
The dated pop-culture references in this case are the NES Classic Edition, and the specs for still mostly-rumored NX. At a cost of $59.99 the NES is simply a smaller version of the 1985 console and comes pre-programmed (meaning these are all the games you're gonna get) with 30 classic titles such as Super Mario Bros, Pac-Man, and Zelda. It also comes with one NES controller but touts 2P capability, as long as you purchase another controller for 10 bucks. Not the most expensive item I've mentioned, but when you're just bringing back tech from the 80s you can only get away with so much. The NES Classic comes out on 11/11.
Regarding the NX, the latest leak which came out this week via Reddit doesn't say much. From a source within a "very large retailer", some general marketing and packaging notes have come to light. From them, we can see they've opted to continue putting Mario on the forefront, as a game will be released in tandem with the console. Whatever the NX will be, it's sitting at a $399.99 bundle price and 4K was "mentioned" but only in streaming. All of this is speculation obviously but one of the last items of the leak was just "games will be on cartridges".
Crazy Grandpa strikes again. Cartridges, seriously?
It's no secret that Nintendo has been on a steady decline for the better part of a decade as their console products continually faltered, their last fiscal year saw earnings drop 60.6%. If they want to even compete in the space they helped pioneer, they're going to have to start looking ahead and not behind.
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