Most gamers would agree that this console generation has been something of a strange ride. From the announcement and subsequent domination of the quirky-yet-underpowered Wii, to the fall of the mighty PlayStation brand, to the introduction of Move and Kinect, these past five years have been ... different.
While Sony and Microsoft are treating the releases of Move and Kinect as kinda-almost-sorta new platforms, Capcom boss David Reeves sees them more as a bridge between console generations. And this is a bridge that he wagers we'll be crossing in the next two to three years.
"Two to three years, I reckon so. I don't have any inside information. All the first-parties have got to be working on something. The tricky thing is when do you put a stake in the ground on technology? That's the problem. You can be waiting a few extra months to implement something, but you've got to set a date to go with a certain chip at a certain point otherwise you're going to miss the key milestones."
Fortunately, Reeves, and Capcom by extension, are more than content to explore the advantages that console-life-extending bridges like 3D and motion controls have to offer.
"Capcom is embracing it, we're working with Microsoft and with Sony on both sides and trying to match up the IPs we have with what the first-parties want. It's not a forced fit. In some ways it's quite a natural way of progressing. Capcom is definitely going to embrace it and just as the first-parties are doing, we see it as another blip before we come into the next cycle. 3D gaming is the same. Anything they can add to revive and pique interest in the games until we have another clash of the titans in two years time."
Discounting the opinion of an industry veteran like Reeves, even if he's as lacking in insider information as he claims, would probably be an unwise decision. In fact, the two to three year argument makes a lot of sense considering that this year's E3 was bereft of even the slightest hint of the new generation of consoles. Of course, the next big question would be which of the three titans will be releasing their new platform first.
While many gamers would probably make the argument that Nintendo's Wii is most in need of an upgrade, that argument doesn't make a lot of sense from a business standpoint. Wii sales may be declining, but the fact is that Nintendo still consistently outsells their competitors by a fair margin. Nintendo is in no hurry to move forward and unless Move and Kinect can apply pressure in all the right places this is unlikely to change. Nintendo has the upper hand and they know it, even if you don't.
As far as the PS3 goes, Sony has claimed a ten-year life cycle from the get go. Of course, that doesn't mean that it won't share the limelight with the PS4 for a few years, especially given the continued success of the PS2 after the PS3 launched. If Sony pursues a similar pattern for this generation the PS4 will be launched in a couple years, right around the PS3's seven year mark.
This brings us to the 360. While Microsoft is hoping to bolster sales with a redesign and the Kinect launch, this strategy will have to work perfectly, as well as prove damaging to Sony and Nintendo if they want to avoid launching their new console first. Whether or not they can do this remains to be seen.
If I were a betting man, I'd predict a November 2012 release for Microsoft's new box followed in 2013 by the PS4 and the Wii's successor.
Who do you think will be the first to show off their shiny new hardware? Will the Wii hold on for another two years? Can Microsoft afford to launch first again? Does Sony dare come out with the PS4 before the ten-year mark and, most importantly, will it even matter after the 2012 apocalypse?
Leave us your predictions, prognostications and prophecies in the comments section.
Source: G.I. Biz