The Next-Gen launch dates have been declared. With Sony's PlayStation the Fourth arriving on November 15th, and MicroSoft's XBox Uno following it on the 22nd, the month of November is now officially a fanboy war zone and the line in the sand is drawn directly across our meager wallets. But setting console favoritism aside, could the average user afford to get both of these systems in such a short time span? And if so, would they truly want to with the assumed issues that often plague the launch of a fresh generation?
Lets take a few minutes to look at the facts, as well as slathering on a hefty helping of my personal opinion and a dash of hyperbole for flavor. This rambling discussion has been brewing inside my brain, and finally the overflow begins... after the jump.
As a self labeled "Hardcore" Gamer, I feel it is my obligation to own all the major consoles of each generation. Now bear in mind, that doesn't always mean owning them immediately at launch, just as soon as I possibly can afford to without putting my vital organs in hock or depriving my family of life supporting nourishment. If I recall correctly, the first console that I directly owned (i.e. not counting the Intellivision that was my father's) was the Nintendo Entertainment System, and it was at least a year after release before I got my grubby little hands on those anti-ergonomic brick controllers and the often catatonic R.O.B., my Robotic Operating Buddy. Since then, I've done my best to get each console on launch day - The first XBox and PlayStation 2 were notable successes - but more often than not I simply didn't have the expendable income at the time. It just seems that, through either a cosmic karmic farce or the vile machinations of our corporate overlords, launch day usually finds a way to align itself with the valleys of my charted bank balance and not the very, very rare peaks. This may also be due to simple probability, as I am more often in the red than the black, but that's neither here nor there.
With that in mind, we have the dilemma of this swiftly approaching November, with not one but two shiny new chunks of gaming excess trundling their way towards us down the manufacturing pipeline. With each console costing $300+ (not including tax, peripherals, or actual games to play on them) we are looking at least a thousand dollars that a dedicated gamer will have to pull out of thin air in order to procure both. Unless you are pulling in a celebrity's income or have inherited a significant trust fund, that is a sizable wad of cash to drop on luxury items. In my case, they may not even be considered luxury items: As new titles come out, we are going to need to review them for the site (you know, the one you are currently reading from), and few people will take Game Geex seriously if we can't provide info on the hot and current games. But even if I was not running a gaming site, I still would be going through this exact quandary because of my life long love (obsession?) with gaming itself, as an entertainment source, communication medium and art form.
On the other side of the (inflation devalued) coin, launch hardware is notoriously and liberally slathered with caveat emptors ("let the buyer beware" warnings, for those not up on your dead languages). A new generation means new, practically untested hardware, an important factor and sore point to those that jumped on early XBox 360 and PS3 models, plagued as they were with overheating and lockup issues. It is also commonly observed that the launch titles are usually not as stellar as later titles because the developers haven't had their chance to warm up to the new tech and all the cool things it can do. Neither of the new systems offer true backwards compatibility, meaning that the meticulously collected library of game discs you so proudly display on the shelves next to your television wont work with them, and you are stuck starting your collection from scratch. And worst of all, you know directly in your gut and your heart-of-hearts that the moment you do pull the trigger on your purchase, that is when they will announce revision two of whatever you just bought, with double the hard drive space and a better cooling system. It is as inevitable as rain after a car wash, but exponentially more damaging to your wallet.
So the question that comes to mind after all this soul searching is who really wins from these two systems coming out so near each other? One could argue that it is us (the Gamers) in the long run, as direct and immediate competition between the two will promote better titles and price breaks in the relatively near future. One could argue that it is the manufacturers themselves that win, raking in as much cash as possible during the impending holiday season (though historically, most console systems are sold at a loss, so its less about profit and more about mind share). One could argue that it is no one, and that packing these two console releases into the same month was an out-and-out mistake that will lead to the unraveling of society as we know it. In which case, I call "shotgun" in the impending post-apocalyptic hellscape, both as my position in the Mad Max-ian death vehicle and as my weapon of choice. Because boomstick.
Obviously, I have very few of the answers in this post, and generated oh-so-many of the questions. So I will do my bloggerly duty and push some of these questions on to you, my fellow Geex. Will you be getting one, both, or neither of these consoles during the month of November? Will you be waiting until after the holidays and taking your chances with what could either be limited or surplus supply, depending on how well each system is received? Or are you just going to stick with your current systems and wait out the propaganda until the 2.0 systems are revealed, with their bigger specs and shinier packed-in games? Let me know in the comments below. Myself, I've got a kidney to have appraised... I hope the market value is up this time of year.