Iterative Consoles Are Terrible For The Industry

Since the last time when we looked at the rumours of iterative consoles with an optimistic eye (read that here!); Phil Spencer has come out and called the idea of an Xbox 1.5 silly. However this could be a smokescreen and we must remember that every coin has two sides, and this coin is no different.

Rather than a tails though, this two sided coin potentially has a massive FU to consumers!

Lets take a peek at how iterative consoles would be terrible for us and the industry at large!

They will cost as much as a new generation console would

expensiveLet’s be honest here; I said last post that it would work our cheaper for us to upgrade our console’s RAM or GPU, but this was merely pie in the sky dreaming! I know for a fact that the refreshed model’s will cost the same as a new generation – we can rationalise that through simple economics.

A console drops in price as it ages because its components become cheaper to make.

Console refreshes would get rid of those cheaper components and replace them with more expensive ones!

This WILL drive the price up; actually, it will stabilise prices and keep it high. That means the PS5K will release two years later, and cost what the PS5 did at launch – the console manufacturers will be raking it in! It, in a way, will double the cost of every console generation – what previously cost a set amount over five years now costs that amount twice just to stay at the cutting-edge of console gaming.

Imagine being an early adopter and paying £400 for a console, then two years later being asked to hand over another £400 to play the new games “the way they are intended”…

Developers will optimise for the top spec

N3ds…because let’s face it, developers are shite at optimizing their games for the market as it is now!

It is now “normal” to release a game with a huge day one patch (in 2014 33% of games got a day one patch and that has only increased) with some reaching the massive size of 30GB! Something has gone seriously wrong with game development and having more variations of hardware is not going to make it easier for them! Hell it’ll make it much more difficult and expensive for them to optimize for base models, refresh models and PCs.

They’d have to do something to lower their costs and their efforts!

Optimizing the games for ONLY the refreshes is how they can do that! Imagine a world where the difference between these refresh consoles and PCs is only one graphical option drop away from parity – how quick and easy is that to optimize? There’s little to no cost-to-benefit ratio of optimizing it any lower, those peons should be on the high-end consoles and if they’re not, then they deserve a low resolution and/or frame-rate.

In fact, why bother getting the best out of the lower end models when you could just put a “better on PS5K/Xbox 2.5” on the box – dammit, why not put “only for PS5K/Xbox 2.5”? It works for Nintendo; and I honestly cannot see Microsoft or Sony having any issue with making those boxes! It’ll move more of those units!

Iterative consoles will only lead to one thing…

It will fracture the user-base

…suddenly we’ll be in the situation those PC gamers who cannot afford the best hardware find themselves. Trying desperately to find a good balance between visuals and performance on our consoles – suddenly consoles trump card of “ease of use” is gone and with that comes a fractured user base( I’ve written a piece on this way back when Nintendo announced the New 3DS – check it out).

Imagine if the above occurred, suddenly you have games only playable on the refresh models; or the games run so poorly on the OG models that they may as well be refresh exclusive. It’s a surefire way to alienate your core fan-base and turn people off the brand.

Worse yet people would get frustrated with unfairness in multiplayer, their lower fps killing any chance they have of competing. Hell this is if they can EVEN play the game! This would inevitably lead to online battlegrounds would get very lonely very quickly. Games will die quicker and developers will lose money – eventually they will abandon the platforms that are unprofitable.

They will canabalize the original models sales

brand-cannibalization-1-638If this is truly where the hobby is going; where is the point in buying the OG model if it will be superseded by a better model in two years? Keep in mind that historical it is around the two year mark that consoles generally find their stride and start getting quality exclusives. Effectively it is here that it becomes worth buying into a new gen.

If everyone decides to not buy the OG model does that mean that the refresh will not happen?

If it doesn’t happen, then will this move be the end of console gaming? Could iteration be the death knell of our beloved hobby? Perhaps!

Iterative consoles. If they exist are the saviours of console gaming or the death of it? 

Leave a comment and tell me why you think what you do!




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