The rumors and details about the Wii 2/Project CafÃ© continue to flood the web. There hasn’t been a single official announcement from Nintendo, yet many are convinced this new console will deliver an enthralling experience for core gamers. Most rumors suggest a holiday 2012 release for the Wii 2. If true, where does that put the Microsoft and Sony? Much has been said about MS and Sony wanting to extend the current console cycle, and reliable industry sources say gamers won’t be seeing the new Xbox 720 or PlayStation 4 until 2014.
Microsoft and Sony are in comfortable positions. Their consoles are performing well and selling games like hotcakes. Both the PS3 and the Xbox 360 have their own niche, but in reality they thrive off the same games. Sure there are some exceptions with exclusive titles, but more and more, the biggest games appear on both consoles.
Out of the 14 console games on Game Rant’s 20 Most Anticipated Games of 2011 list, eight can be played on both the Xbox 360 and PS3. Most of the battle between the systems boils down to downloadable games, online features, and personal preference. Because of this, Microsoft and Sony are content to prolong this console life-cycle and continue to profit off of well-established systems, especially considering the advent of their own motion control devices superior to the Wii's.
The following quote is from an insider who has reportedly worked with both Sony and Microsoft.
“Both Microsoft and Sony are telegraphing to each other that they're delaying, to milk the current [generation] and fill in previous craters better.”
Other anonymous insiders claim that 2014 is their target time frame to release a new console, but that the companies would consider an earlier release if pushed. This push will most likely come in the form of Nintendo revealing the Wii 2 and forcing Microsoft and Sony to react. A 2014 release is a long way off. By that time, the Xbox 360 and PS3 will be nine and eight years old, respectively. As it stands, Epic, Crytek, DICE and other developers want to get on with it already and use their new game engines, Unreal Engine 3 CryEngine 3 and Frostbite 2, respectively, to their fullest extent.
Even so, Microsoft & Sony seem to be happy where they are and do not want to make any big moves prematurely. Industry analyst Billy Pidgeon had this to say on the subject:
“I think we'll see a game of chicken between Sony and Microsoft. Sony definitely isn't launching a successor before 2014 and could stand to benefit by having Microsoft launch first as PS3 builds in to North America and builds a strong position in Europe. Microsoft claims there's a lot more room in Xbox 360 for developers to max out, but here PS3 could have a strong advantage."
Nintendo is the real wild card in the upcoming console war. The ball is in their court and their subsequent decisions will shape how the next generation of console releases play out.
Maybe Nintendo had this planned all along? They play the tortoise, focus on winning over non-gamers and more casual players, and introduce motion technology, while simultaneously allowing the competition to dash ahead. Then, just when the time is right, they revert their attention back on the “hardcore” gamers. After all, traditional gamers may have a bone to pick with Nintendo as of late, but Nintendo has the ability to change their attitudes quickly. All Nintendo has to do is start releasing innovative and HD versions of their most acclaimed franchises and the majority of naysayers will have a complete change of heart. Voila! Just like that, Nintendo has a hold on the entire market.
On the other hand, a more likely scenario is that Nintendo didn’t have this turn of events planned. They were highly successful with the Nintendo 64, but things started going downhill with the Gamecube. Granted, there were some great games on the Gamecube, but it caused Nintendo's image to change. Microsoft and Sony’s consoles were sexier and the Gamecube became the “kiddie” console. Then, the Big N released the Wii, and moved even further away from their typical fans and catered to casual gamers. The motion controls were innovative, but the graphics weren't up to par and many third-parties had trouble finding success on the Wii. Because of this, Nintendo is forced to scramble and adjust their game-plan. In fear of further alienating traditional gamers, they're choosing to design a high-performing console that will attract a wide range of third-party developers.
However it really unfolds, Nintendo definitely appears to be the trailblazer for this upcoming round of consoles and it’ll be interesting to see how long Microsoft and Sony hold off on releasing their follow-up consoles. We will have a better idea of what to expect form Nintendo, with an official announcement probably coming during E3.
Until then, continue to read Game Rant for the latest information on the Wii 2, as well as Sony and Microsoft's plans to release new consoles.
When do you think the Wii 2 will be released? Will Microsoft and Sony really wait until 2014 to release new consoles?