There have been many recent reports and rumors about the next step in video game hardware. I personally have been taking every bit of information with a grain of salt. Out of the big three, Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony, which company can we count on to help bring us happily into the future?
Nintendo is set to show off what the Wii U is really about this coming E3. Last year it garnered a lukewarm reception and I certainly hope the big N has prepped some stellar games to help show us what the new console is capable of. While the Wii U is set to come out by the end of the year, it is also supposedly the most under powered of the new gen systems. The Wii was still very successful despite being technically limited, but can Nintendo pull its magic again? When the Wii was first introduced, it was right around the time when HD TVs were becoming the norm. Because of this, the fact the Wii could only be displayed at most in 480p was not as much of a stigma as it is today. The Wii U is indeed making the jump to high definition, but what else does it have to offer? The controller for the Wii U is catering toward the current trend of the popular tablet device, but will it allow for fresh new ideas? We can usually count on Nintendo to deliver quality games that innovate with what ever hardware they're made for. Let's just hope they keep their streak going on the Wii U. Nintendos other issue is with their online services. While it's functional, gamers are definitely tired of Nintendos' friend codes and their service begs to be updated.
Microsoft is rumored to transform the next Xbox into a complete Windows media center. This is all well and good for those who want all of their computing entertainment needs in one spot, but what will this mean for the gamers? It does not feel like Microsoft is focused on appealing to the hard core crowd, as their current trend has been all about pushing the Kinect. Let's be brutally honest here, the Kinect is not good as a stand alone video game device. It's merely a supplement to what the long time gamers could want out of their games. It's far to technically limited to stand on its own. But if this is Microsofts idea of what gamers want, then what can we really look forward to? It's unclear what their next generation console will bring to the table, especially when they've been so dependent on 3rd party companies making games to keep their hardware successful. Xbox Live has been their mainstay and has kept the Xboxs' popularity intact. Having said that, with other companies offering free online services that are just as feature heavy as Lives', can Microsoft keep subscribers happy and content? If their new console is even more integrated into the PC market, how can they compete with stellar services such as Steam?
Sony is rumored to use a completely new chip set in the next PlayStation, and unfortunately not keeping backwards compatibility intact. It's worrisome that the next Sony console may not play the PS3s library, but even more bothersome that it may not play any of the downloadable content gamers may have bought over the PS3s life span. Again, this is all speculation, but it's cause for concern. While it should be a safe bet that PlayStation Network accounts will transfer over to the next device, the PS3s architecture was so vastly different that in order to get the games to run correctly on new hardware it may be a pipe dream. We can only hope these companies actually care about the consumer enough NOT to completely screw us over, but at the same time digital downloads are very new to the industry. When buying a digital game, it's become more of a purchased service than it is an owned product. Due to this change in how we obtain our games, it's uncertain how long the companies will support the digital distribution of said games. There have been many instances in which a digital game is pulled from the network, leaving the buyer empty handed if they were ever to attempt to download the game again. It's a touchy subject that can be a future problem for all gamers.
So who can we trust to deliver a secure future? Who can deliver a consumer friendly console? Time will tell, but I can't help but be a little worried....