More on the next generation consoles

Obviously all three platform holders are working on their next generation consoles, we even know that Microsoft have given theirs the codename “phoenix”. It is also pretty obvious that all three will be scaled versions of the current generation consoles with up to four to five times the power. They will use massively enhanced versions of the same GPUs and CPUs  and will have a lot more memory. Backwards compatability will be 100%.

Nintendo are in the tightest corner. The Wii is looking very tired with its lack of HD TV support and lack of hard drive. It is still selling well, but on the back of a small handful of populist games that are now quite old. So sales numbers could implode at any time, there is nothing new driving them forward. The lack of first party Nintendo game releases for a long time now looks suspiciously like their internal teams are working on the SuperWii instead, to ensure a good supply of launch titles. This means that the SuperWii is not too far away.

Microsoft are obviously working towards a two model range with the 360 and the phoenix both available for many years. They have now moved the Xbox 360 down to the $199 price point so they are strategically positioned to launch the premier price point phoenix machine any time they want. Microsoft have pulled off brilliant long term strategy with the current generation machine so don’t be surprised if the phoenix arrives sooner than the analysts are predicting. The market is ripe for a premium machine that is up to four or five times more powerful with 100% backwards compatibility.

You have to wonder about Sony. The losses on the Playstation PS3 fiasco have wiped out the profits they made with PS2. So will they even bother with PS4? The answer is probably yes. Firstly because it will be far cheaper to develop, being just a scaled PS3. Secondly because as a company they need to make profits and the console business can be enormously profitable when you get it right. And thirdly because this industry is still at its beginning and will grow to be massively bigger, so the potential upside is huge.

One thing I think is very possible is that one of the upcoming consoles makes a step change in its sound capability. Generation on generation we haven’t had the same advances in sound that we have had in graphics so there is plenty of scope for such a step change. The main cost is development, after that you are just making silicon. So there is a big opportunity to get a substantial product differentiator here. Which would be nice after the 360 and PS3 were so close to each other in capabilities.


  1. I always enjoy your articles Bruce, and look forward to more info as you find it.

    I’m doing an article on the history of the xbox platform and would like to know if I can call on you at some stage to get some info.

    I’ve been studying the platform for almost 6 years now, so I’m reasonably well versed in what has been going on.

  2. Wii is a novelty,a toy,and outside its Commercial Hit just a disruptive bad joke by Nintendo.

    Whatever the outcome is,and my guess is that next-gen will be announced Fall next year,I hope,I expect from Sony & Microsoft a total wipe out of Nintendo.

    Nintendo doesn’t deserve its success.
    They weakened a whole generation with a mammoth bastardification of what gaming should be.
    We’ve lost a much greater war,with much greater profits from the serious contenders,and therefore Nintendo has ultimately weakened even the next generation. What have we got from the Wii? Just a lesson in marketing;There is no software to back up its hype.
    Defendin De Penguin?
    Jeep Thrills?
    Jillian Michaels’ Fitness Ultimatum 2009 ANYONE?
    And people still have the enormous balls to bash PS3’s catalogue.

    This is a most precious era,this could be our time as gamers after the 80’s crack.
    The game industry cannot be in hands of our(beloved,respected but often gaming ignorant)aunts,our small cousins,and lovers of the posh toys.Period.

  3. This is certainly rumours right?I dont know.just guess.hehe…Why we shall bother with next next generation console while many things to explore in today(nextgeneration) console..(no offense. peace :>)
    xbox 360 have not introduced the motion sensing, they also have not release the 500 gb hard drive xbox. I dont think they will release any new platform before 2012..At that time, gameplay and graphics must be combined.
    anyway the phoenix picture above looks nice..

  4. I’m truly sorry if I offended anyone,but I consider SNES/Super Famicom the last of the worthy consoles by Nintendo.And this golden age could tremble with a disruptive competitor that twist rules whenever they feel to.

    In fact I may blow my head off with a shotgun in a future where my choices are between the latest kid brawler,Cooking Mama,and Pokemon Polyvinyl Chloride Edition.

  5. I don’t believe that MS will make a new console until the expected 2011-12 …unless Sony force their hand.

    It’s more about the content now, rather than the graphical superiority, and MS still has a number of things they want to do to start chipping away at Nintendo’s casual audience, improve Live, and take over our living rooms with downloadable TV.

    Each generation, the graphical leap appears to be less and less. It’s really not …it just appears that way to the consumer. I think if someone released a new console in the next couple of years the difference won’t be amazing enough to get people to shell out a premium. Four or five years there may be enough reason.

  6. Anyone heard about the possible incorporation of Larrabee in the next microsoft console? got any news anyone?

  7. Bruce,

    Always a pleasure reading your thoughts on the industry. Do you really think a Super-Wii is so near though? It is still selling in droves and motion plus excites me a lot more than souped up graphics would. Of course, this is dependent to some extent on what the developers can do with it.

    It’s interesting, this generation I have bought both a 360 and a Wii and I tend to play them fairly equally. Infact on my 360 I spend more time on Live Arcade titles than many full price games – I would probably use more Virtual Console games if Nintendo would allow me to load them off an SD card without reshuffling what I have already downloaded.

    Would be very interesting to see, with the huge profits made by Wii and DS what Nintendo can pull out for the next gen, the fact they’ve actually made money (unlike Sony and MS) should give them a huge advantage.

  8. @Abaddon You are all over this post. Really got a fire started under you. I think you points are valid in terms of software library quality on the Wii. There are a lot of bad titles out there on that platform that are gimmicky. But I do believe that it is a legit platform with lots of potential. As I state in my blog posts on Rady Marketing, it should be about the content, and not the medium. And in the core 1st party titles that Nintendo developed, they did a great job. Also, by pushing the mentality that gamedev should be governed by the veterans alienates new users and show elitism towards casual players. Don’t be a movie snob; let everyone enjoy the content they prefer.

    @Bruce Another great post. I’m not sure if sound will be the next differentiator for consoles. I think integration will be. Looking at the value added of Xbox Live! in terms of social networking, discovery, and partnering for content. It has a distinct advantage over the Sony and Nintendo Platform. I believe that focusing on those features will bring greater gains.
    One example would be to allow movie/tv playback PIP software emulation in games. DirectTV just released a new service that allows football fans to watch 8 games simultaneously.
    Having a feature to multi-task on your console will keep you engaged to the console longer, leading to larger sales.

  9. Um, Wii and Nintendo deserve it’s success, and Wii isn’t a novelty. They had a great plan in mind for Wii and made good decisions after the N64 and GameCube performed poorly. Wii being a novelty is just a fanboy comment that needs to stop being said, it’s getting quite silly. Anyways if it was a novelty it’s still a cheap novelty outselling the PS3 and 360 LOL.

    PS3’s don’t sell and neither do their games, Resistance one to this day has only sold 2.5 million units. Wii even has better sales than that and the 360 dominates both of them. Wii has some good games coming (all of the systems do) in MadWorld, The Conduit, Disaster Day Of Crisis, Kid Icarus, Pikmin, Mario, Zelda, F-Zero, Starfox etc. No one really has a clear edge and that’s the main reason why Wii, 360 and PS3 will stay where they are.

  10. “Nintendo are in the tightest corner. The Wii is looking very tired with its lack of HD TV support and lack of hard drive. It is still selling well, but on the back of a small handful of populist games that are now quite old”

    You gotta be kidding right?

    What the hell do you hardcore geeks need to accept Nintendo? it seems that nothing it does is good enough for you. It have probed that THEY KNOW WHAT ARE THEY DOING, NOT YOU. And there are not games from Nintendo coming? what are Disaster, wii music, animal crossing and wario land then?

    And “Nintendo is a fad” is a very old comment that is very pathetic to hear. Nintendo won.


  11. i tink that in the next generation of consoles we need a console that can play computer games like crysis. if a console could do this it would automaticly have a huge game range. i can’t see playstation doing this but i think it is fully plausible that microsoft could do it

  12. The high range of graphics of Crysis weren’t worth upgrading to Vista and DirectX10 for many people, so why would people shell out similar money for a new console that can handle Crysis when they have a console that they are happy enough with?

    If a new Wii came out, it will be mostly be playing catchup with the 360 because Nintendo will still be looking at value vs. performance as they always do. It’ll also be more like a DS and a DS lite, with nothing new added except a brighter (or in this case, an HD) screen running the same stuff. The number of households that have a Wii will not improve much either, at best they will have 2 Wiis in one house, so software sales won’t improve.

    If Sony release something more powerful, then they will have another overpriced console, a smell of desperation and lose faith of the PS3 adopters. Who’s to say they won’t get desperate again soon after PS4? At this rate, you may as well get a PC. They have to be strong and hope their brand, and hardware that can be pushed a little bit more, wins out.

    Microsoft don’t need to because the 360 is still viable and making a profit thanks to the other companies not being able to produce a new machine yet either.

  13. I think this does seem like a pretty accurate prediction..

    It makes logical sense financially to scale up the existing hardware pattern for the three companies, because honestly i think wii’s sales figures have proved that ultra-high performance doesn’t always equal ultra high sales..

    This would make the lives of developers easier as well i would assume..

    I do think all this wii bashing has to stop, or any console bashing for that matter it’s not like any of these companies loves you, they just want to take your money, so i don’t see why people have to love them so fanatically in return..

    Anyway on thing is clear any console that comes out next will have to be at least a step up in power from Ps3 but as affordable as wii, which is what i can imagine the design brief is for the development of these new machines..

    Although i wish things were different, & that console manufacturers hadn’t got us in a cycle of making things obsolete every 5 years, as i still think the real genius is in the game design & not in the hardware.
    I still think a lot of great things could still be done with the last generation of consoles, it’s just a shame people are so easily charmed by some reflections & fog effects because when you think about it we’re still playing the same games we were playing ten years ago..

  14. I see a lot of, “obviously,” and a complete lack of data. Making things up does not equal rumor.

  15. It’s obvious that sony has a wiimote type on controller in the future, and the rumors are Ms does too. The next gens are looking like a revamped version of each model we have now. Sony got humbled, thank heavens, and now they will be gunning for their former glory and try to be back on top with the Ps4.
    Ms might be second in console sales numbers, but its in 1st place with third party software titles, and thats what counts for the best software to be on their system. How many PS3’s have been sold mainly for the Blu-ray? I know four Ps3 owners, and only one uses it for games, the others use the PS3 for the media player and blu-ray.
    Ms needs more than Halo and Gears to win the next gen, they need to out different Nintendo and Sony, without raising the price too much, and alienating the core players while trying for the casual gamers.
    Nintendo needs to do more than just make a wii HDTV version. The next wii has to continue the innovation the current model has or they will find themselves losing to Sony or MS again.
    I think most people don’t realize that all those Ps2’s were sold not too the hard core, but to the casual. Now the casual are buying the Wii. Sony counted on the PS3 picking up all those PS2 owners, but they evidently didnt realize that the Wii already stole them. The didn’t know their own market, and made the 3DO all over again.
    All in All, it’s great to be a consumer and I wouldn’t count any of these companies out. No prior company was ahead more than two generations before being humbled, it seems to be continuing that.

  16. If you ask me, the current generation of consoles has proven that pricing is more important than a bloated list of features. Microsoft didn’t need to charge massive amounts of money to cover a Blu-Ray player that won’t provide any significant benefit to the current generation of games. They also went with smaller hard drives and left out built-in wireless (not everybody needs it), focusing instead on optional add-on features like X-Box LIVE that really add value to the system.

    People are more likely to buy a core system and then an add-on than they are to buy a bundle, even if the core+add-on cost more in total. It’s a psychological thing. Spending $300 at once is just so much more appealing than $450, especially when you can always upgrade later. It also makes the system more appealing to people who don’t and won’t ever need all that extra crap.

    Microsoft’s experience designing development tools and operating systems has also allowed them to make the 360 easy to develop for. Based on several developer comments I’ve read, the 360 is much easier to develop for than the PS3. When you know so many more people are going to be able to afford the 360, on top of this and all the other perks, why would any sane publisher consider giving the PS3 an exclusive over the 360?

    Anyway, the Wii also pulled ahead because of its price, and also because Nintendo was intelligent enough to fill a niche that Sony and Microsoft were largely ignoring. Before Nintendo, nobody ever thought to get Grandma and Aunt Bertha to play video games, nor did they try to cash in on the millions of Americans who want to lose weight. Nintendo did, and I think it was brilliantly done, even if a lot of their games suck(which they do!). Nintendo is best off maintaining this position, using outdated/cheap hardware in innovative and engaging ways to provide low-cost games that people you wouldn’t normally consider gamers can really enjoy. If they try to intrude into the “hardcore” gaming market that Sony and Microsoft are now battling over, they’ll lose their edge in pricing and with it their new core consumers.

    Just my two cents…

  17. ps3 and xbox360 have far to low amounts of ram when its comes to hd grafics,and in lots of the games the grafics has just been scaling up,take GTA4 low hacking framerate avage grafics,and the reason for that is not the developers,but a lot more need for ram,lets say 4-5 times the amount of ram,it will mean smaller loading times more detail in the game and not just scalet up,but fullhd grafics,because ps3 and xbox360 are strong but FULLHDGRAFICS means a lot of ram and that whare the xbox360.ps3 comes to there limits

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