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access_time October 7, 2013 at 9:00 AM in Features by Justin Weinblatt

GotGame Truth Machine: Remind Me Why I Need A Next-Gen System

It’s the end of the generation.  After an exceedingly long hardware generation we’re going to get our dirty little gamer hands on a new piece of technology.  Fans are swooning over specs they hardly understand and insulting each other over which plastic box they prefer (if you choose the wrong one you may be a homosexual which is apparently a bad thing).  I’m trying my best to join in the fervor, but I just can’t muster the energy.  As I look at the game lineups, the visuals, and the features of each console, I can’t do anything but shrug in indifference.  All I can do is ask myself one simple question.  Why do I need a next gen system?

Why I Buy Game Systems

In general, I buy a system to play games.  For a company to earn my hard earned dollars, they have to do one of two things.  They have to either show me games that I need their system to play, or they need to show me that existing games will be significantly better on their machine.  Simple right? Do the Xbox One or PS4 do those things?  In my humble opinion, no.  When the Wii U was announced it was heavily, and rightfully, criticized for an underwhelming lineup that relied heavily on ports of last generation games.  The Wii U sported six games that were exclusive (not including shovelware like Game Party Champions).  Six games makes for a tough sell, even if one of those games features Mario. So, how do the Xbox One and PS4 fare?  The PS4 will have 3 retail games not available anywhere else (and one downloadable title) in Knack, Killzone: Shadow Fall, and Drive Club (and downloadable Resogun).  The XBox One will have 4 exclusive retail titles in Fighter Within, Dead Rising 3, Forza Motorsport 5, and Ryse: Son of Rome (along with the downloadable titles Crimson Dragon and Killer Instinct). So, where are the system sellers here?  I’m sure there are those out there who really really love Dead Rising, or Killzone, and if you do, you might want to get in on the next generation a little bit early.  If you’re not a huge fan of those franchises, then why would you need to buy a PS4 or Xbox One at launch?

Will PS-One Make Your Games Better

Watch Dogs E3 PS4 screens

Ok, I hear you.  The PS4 situation is different from the one with the Wii U, because of the horsepower of the system.  The graphics are so much better that it’s worth the extra $400-510 or an extra $500-560 if you want to go with Microsoft.  From what I’ve seen so far, I disagree. The Xbox 360 was released at a time when big advancements were being made in GPU technology and HDTVs were becoming mainstream.  These two factors combined to generate a substantial leap in visuals.  Between the Xbox 360’s GPU and the PS3’s complex but powerful Cell Processor, next gen consoles were fairly cutting edge losing out only to expensive higher end PCs. Do the Xbox One and PS4 provide the same kind of leap in graphics that their predecessors did?  Well, maybe.  It’s easy to forget that first generation Xbox 360 efforts were largely mediocre.  Perfect Dark Zero’s visuals didn’t exactly put God of War to shame.   It really wasn’t until games like Gears of War and Uncharted that the power of next-gen consoles became apparent. Is the graphical upgrade of the Xbox One or PS4 worth it?  That’s going to depend on your preferences.  For me, no.  The next gen leap in graphics has thus far been used to improve on some of the less obvious features of games.  Assassin’s Creed IV now has spiffed up wind and water effects, while COD has fish that move out of the way.  Many games feature nicer textures and will all presumably benefit from a larger pool of RAM.  Games like Battlefield 4 put the extra power of next-gen to good use by allowing larger multiplayer matches, but most games feature only superficial improvements.  Games that were primarily developed for older hardware are not going to reap the full benefits of the PS4 or Xbox One’s technology. Games will likely look far better in the future, but as of now the boost in graphics doesn’t seem worth the asking price.  If I was the kind of guy who was going to drop half a dime to play graphically enhanced versions of current gen games, I’d probably have invested in a gaming PC by now. So, basically, if you’re buying a PS4, you’re paying $400-510 (price of the PS3, one extra controller, and year of PSN for non-members) to have the ability to play 3 exclusive titles, and to be able to buy upscaled versions of a small selection of current gen games.  The story is similar for the Xbox One, but the price is $500-620 and you get games like Dead Rising over Killzone.

I Can’t Play Potential

None of this is to say the PS4 and Xbox One won’t be great systems, or that I won’t buy one at some point (in all likelihood when Kingdom Hearts 3 or Mass Effect 4 is available).  Each system has great potential, but I can’t play potential.  The Division may wind up being the greatest game ever, Infamous Second Son may be unbelievable, and Microsoft may show off some mind-blowing new uses for the Kinect 2.0.  The hardware behind the Xbox One and PS4 will be capable of producing some great games, and the social and media features of each console have me intrigued.  However, until these systems have the software to show off these features, then neither system offers much to me.  What reason is there to buy either console at launch?

Hype… Just Hype

There is simply no good reason to buy a new console at launch unless you’re a really REALLY die hard Dead Rising or Killzone fan.

If you think buying a system for the hype alone is worth it, by all means go for it.  If the bragging rights of owning the newest system on the block is worth half a grand to you, then buy one.  I say this without a trace of sarcasm.  As someone who bought a Wii U and 3DS at launch, I certainly know a thing or two about making illogical purchases.  There is nothing wrong with being a fanboy.  If you are so devoted to a company that you will buy their product before there is any reason to buy it, and doing so will make you happy, then go for it.  If your $500 will buy you $500 of joy, spend it.

But, please explain to me what compelling reasons aside from blind devotion and sheep mentality is there to buy either of these consoles at launch?  I just can’t see it.  In my eyes, the next gen emperor has no clothes.


  • Eric Sellers October 7, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    A round of applause to you, my friend, but just a fore-warning; brace yourself for a deluge of people calling you everything under the sun for having anything to do with Nintendo.
    People tend to go a bit psychotic when anyone even dares mention gameplay over graphics, as well, so watch out for tech trolls.^^;;

    The hype from new consoles makes normally cool gamers turn into some of the worst members of the internet, and although I hope I’m wrong, I doubt they’ll spare your article, especially now that you’ve mentioned owning a Wii U while simultaneously stating you aren’t yet interested in the other two next-gen consoles.

    • Justin Weinblatt October 7, 2013 at 1:30 PM

      Eh… well my point of saying I owned a Wii U was not to say the Wii U better or more worthwhile. My point was that I bought one at launch because I was a fanboy, and supporting the company made me happy, as illogical as it may have been. It was my way of saying that I get the idea of getting lost in the hype and buying something based on emotion rather than reason. While the Wii U will have a better lineup come November, its launch lineup was about as poor (maybe a little more so), than either of the other next gen systems. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Rudi Hanøy (@KongRudi) October 7, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    You do know that there is 30 PS4-launch day games?

    Why list all the Xbox One digital launch-games, like Lococycle and Peggle 2, but not PS4 digital titles, like War Thunder, DC Univers, and Resogun?

    Complete list:
    Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
    Battlefield 4
    Blacklight: Retribution
    Call of Duty: Ghosts
    DC Universe Online
    FIFA 14
    Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition
    Just Dance 2014
    Killzone Shadow Fall
    LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
    Madden NFL 25
    NBA 2K14
    NBA Live 14
    Need for Speed: Rivals
    Pinball Arcade
    Putty Squad
    The PlayRoom
    Skylanders Swap Force
    Super Motherload
    Switch Galaxy Ultra
    Tiny Brains
    War Thunder
    Watch Dogs

    • Justin October 8, 2013 at 1:31 PM

      I actually said nothing about Peggle or Lococycle. Now lets look at your list, and cross out games that are available on current gen consoles…

      Killzone Shadow Fall
      NBA Live 14
      The PlayRoom (seems like a tech demo, but whatever.)

      Suddenly, a lot less impressive. So, please explain why I need to spend around $500 dollars to play games that I can play on systems I already own?

      • Axe99 October 8, 2013 at 2:25 PM

        You still included them on your list of exclusives at the start , which is un-edited and remains plain misleading (there are a good many more titles for PS4 at launch than the XB1 ;)).

        • Justin Weinblatt October 8, 2013 at 7:33 PM

          Yeah… that was just an image I threw up to go along with the paragraph. I can see why that may have been a poor choice to put there. At any rate though, the article is not about XBox One vs PS4. It’s more about XBone/PS4 vs PS3/360. It’s not about which one to buy, it’s about whether you need either right now.

  • Axe99 October 7, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    The thing you’re missing here is that you’re just focussing on visuals, and the hole in your argument is that you’re only focussing on visuals without actually focussing on them. While it’s not clear we’ll get 60fps or 1080p on all next-gen games (and particularly on the XB1), it is clear we’ll be looking at a substantial boost in resolution (often by more than 50%) with similar or greater bumps in texture detail, and far better lighting. So if all you care about is visuals, then there is something there for you.

    But you don’t care about visuals? Fair enough – while gaming is an audio-visual activity, many are quite happy imagining how the details might look (and imagination is a good thing :)). However, there’s far, far more to gaming than just visuals. World simulation (water, weather/wind, foliage), for example, is far more advanced. In games that involve interacting with your environment, deeper world simulation means deeper gameplay.

    Same story for AI – reading from an article in game informer, EA are apparently able to do 50 times as many AI calculations for Madden in next-gen than they were on the Xbox 360. This will make a huge difference for any game when you play against AI characters.

    The there’s the better online server infrastructure for next-gen.

    Of course, if you only play online-only titles with no AI, in sterile worlds, and don’t care about graphics or animation or online connectivity, then next-gen _is_ a complete waste of time, but I’m not sure how many gamers would fit this description ;).

    Also – you missed a whole bunch of games in your list – you only touched on the retail titles. War Thunder is my most anticipated PS4 launch game, and Resogun has been receiving props for looking pretty, and neither are on your list ;).

    • Justin October 8, 2013 at 1:39 PM

      Well, I actually did mention Resogun. As for War Thunder, that’s available on Steam, and I was talking just about exclusives.

      As for world simulation, AI, and visuals, the question is, when will those factors be meaningfully integrated into gameplay? EA is notorious for doing poor jobs on their next gen ports, so I’m doubtful we’ll see meaningful upgrades in AI. Forza may do a better job. Wind/weather/foliage things so far has meant fish moving out of the way in COD.

      As for visuals, I just haven’t been blown away by what I’ve seen yet. It’s important to note that I haven’t seen these games actually running on a PS4 or XBone yet, So far though, what I’ve seen just hasn’t blown me away. Certainly a noticeable difference, but just not a $500 difference for me.

      The things you mentioned may very well motivate me to buy one of the consoles in the future, but it’s just not there yet. Until they really make a meaningful impact on games, I’m going to stick with what I have.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      • Axe99 October 8, 2013 at 2:33 PM

        That comment at the end related to your list of games – you mention Resogun in your discussion, but your list of games is horrendously inaccurate.

        As for the rest, like I said in my original reply, it depends what kind of gamer you are. If you’re not into the details, then there will become less and less of a reason to upgrade (or, indeed, to play on a high-end PC). Just like cinema, the advancements in technology are running along an asymptotic trend – they will get relatively less each year as development processes, rendering techniques, AI routines and the like mature. Each gen step-up will be less and less, unless there’s some incredible breakthrough in computing technology. That said, I’m an enthusiast gamer, and I’m a huge fan of properly simulated weather in Watch Dogs, or foliage affected by physics and properly simulated water in AC IV (and I suspect the water simulation will have substantial impact on gameplay). Your CoD example suggests that you haven’t been paying a whole lot of attention to next-gen development.

        From an online gaming perspective, the renewed focus on dedicated servers is wonderful, and will have a significant impact on ping and lag.

        Of course, the real motivation to upgrade will be when they start releasing a large number of games just for next-gen. For me, I prefer gaming on console to PC (although I do plenty of both), so Planetside 2 and War Thunder, and a bunch of those indie games, that may be available on PC but not PS3/XB360, are a big draw. You may be more of a PC gamer (although it would be an odd choice, given your lack of interest in the finer details visually – given this is the main reason to go for the extra grunt of a PC) in which case you’ll have longer to wait until there are enough next-gen only console exclusives to sink your teeth into. You should upgrade when it suits you, not when the advertisers tell you to, but for many gamers there are a lot of great reasons to upgrade at launch :).

        • Justin Weinblatt October 8, 2013 at 7:50 PM

          The list I put up was just an image to go with the paragraph. Wasn’t meant as a definitive comparison, although I can see how that image was a bad choice. Might alter it a little later on.

          The things you mentioned are just visual flourish in my eyes. Ubisofts comments on the advancements in Assassin’s Creed and Watchdogs didn’t indicate to me that the game would play any differently, and videos I’ve seen for ACIV (since we don’t have much current gen footage of Watchdogs to go on) don’t indicate a meaningful difference in gameplay. Of course, these things will likely impact gaming in the future, but as of now, it’s not quite there yet. Dedicated servers are kind of a bigger deal, but that has little to do with the next gen consoles from my understanding. Activision has specified that COD will use them on current gen consoles. It is nice though that Microsoft is making it easier to achieve.

          Overall, it seems that you’re willing to pay a good deal of money for visually enhanced versions of current gen games and a couple of exclusives. And that’s cool, if it’s worth it to you. I’m sure I spend a lot of my money on things that are not worth it in the eyes of others.

          As for me, I just don’t get the buzz. I buy new consoles for new experiences I can’t get elsewhere, and I just don’t see those at launch, or at least not enough of them.

          • Axe99 October 8, 2013 at 9:03 PM

            Aye, deffo not suggesting you should be getting them at launch – instead, wait until games like The Division, inFamous: Second Son or The Crew come along, which are only next-gen games.

            In a comment above, you said that the article was more about X360/PS3 vs PS4/XB1. If that is the case, then a lot of the ommissions from the PS4 list are significant. For me, personally, I prefer my action games on console (I just prefer a gamepad for these types of games, and I know on a console most people online will also be using one, plus there’s always the extra headache factor that comes with PC gaming), so having War Thunder and Planetside 2 on PS4 is a big factor for me. Sure, I could play it now on my PC, which is comfortably up to the task, but I’m confident I’ll enjoy it more on PS4 (DS4 looks to be a better gamepad than any I’ve seen for the PC, and the PS4 game will ship with everything pre-mapped, wheras many PC games require fiddling in the UI to get the gamepad mappings decent).

            It’s definitely the case it’s only the beginning, and it’s also the case we don’t know exactly what the impact will be yet – although for a game like BF4, I think the difference between current and next-gen in gameplay (24 vs 64 players, on maps designed for 64 players in the first instance) will be pretty clear. If it wasn’t for War Thunder and Killzone I wouldn’t be jumping into PS4 at launch, and even if I had the money, I wouldn’t grab the XB1 (my top two for XB1 are Crimson Dragon and Zoo Tycoon, but they probably wouldn’t make my top five for PS4).

            Either way, have fun gaming over the Summer/Winter period, lots of great games coming on most platforms :).

  • Eagles83 October 7, 2013 at 5:30 PM

    I’ve preordered both systems because I do happen to like Killzone, Infamous, Killer Instinct, Forza, etc. I can understand if you are not into those games and then I would completely agree that there wouldn’t be much of a reason to buy either. My second PS3 is failing as well so I will need another living room bluray player. It is by no means a primary reason but I’d rather buy a multipurpose device than waste money on just a bluray player.

    • Justin October 8, 2013 at 1:42 PM

      If you like those games enough to spend $900 on the systems to play them (+controllers and what not) then go for it. If they announced Mega Man Legends 3 and Shenmue 3 for PS4 and XBox One respectively, I’d probably preorder them both myself.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Ramon Aranda October 9, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    I’m just excited to finally be getting some must-play titles for the Wii U. Looking forward to Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart, Assassin’s Creed IV and quite frankly, I’m loving The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD.

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