After a drawn-out battle leading up to their launches, the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 are finally now out in the wild. That, of course, means that it’s time to start demanding what the next consoles from Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft are going to be, and when we’re going to get them.
The last console generation had a life cycle of 6-8 years, with the Wii lasting for six years before being succeeded by the Wii U, while the Xbox 360 and PS3 were around for seven and eight years, respectively, before the Xbox One and PS4 rolled into town. Of course, that’s not to say that the older consoles are now redundant; since neither of their successors have backwards compatibility right now, gamers will probably be hanging on to their old consoles for several years to come.
While the life cycle of any console generation cannot be fixed this early on, it seems that everyone has an opinion about how long the PS4 and Xbox One will be sticking around for. In an interview addressing EA’s two-year run of winning The Consumerist‘s Golden Poo award for Worst Company in America, EVP Patrick Söderlund admitted that the last console generation went on for longer than EA would have preferred, and he expects the current consoles to have a life cycle of around five to six years.
Sony VP of product marketing, John Koller, was less willing to give specific estimates in an interview with Polygon, though he did emphasize the fact that the advent of a new console generation is not necessarily the end of the previous one. In the case of the PS3, Sony intends to continue supporting the console for several years to come, which is good news for those don’t intend to buy a PS4 right away:
“The PS3 support plan is very similar to what we did with PlayStation 2, in that we think that consoles have long lives, and as long as content keeps coming to the system, then we’ll continue to support it. It’s the fuel in the engine. And there’s a good bit of content that’s coming to the PS3 still.”
Microsoft, meanwhile, is apparently comfortable with the Xbox 360′s lifespan and may be looking for something similar when it comes to the Xbox One. Xbox VP Phil Harrison told MCV:
“Eight years is actually the right time… if we had come out three years ago with a new console, it would not be to the same degree of performance or price that we have now.”
There is also one other possibility. Last summer, Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli told Golem that he suspected the next console generation would be the last one, due to hardcore gamers being drawn to the better graphics and hardware offered by PCs and casual gamers drifting over to mobile platforms and browser-based games. It’s hard to imagine a gaming world without consoles in it, but there’s no telling what the state of the industry and community will be like in another six or seven years.
We probably won’t have consoles or PCs at all. The games will be downloaded directly into our brains so that we can play them in a kind of hallucinatory state whilst taking the jet-powered hovertrain to work. And no, that’s not too ambitious at all. Roll on, 2020.