Our current console generation, which technically kicked off in 2005 with the release of Xbox 360, has been going for about seven years. All things considered, that isn’t exactly a long time – third gen systems (i.e., the NES) were alive and kicking for about nine years. But with a games industry that is larger than ever before and a technology sector that is pushing advancements at seemingly-breakneck speeds, long hardware generations don’t really seem to make sense anymore – at least, not to Julien Merceron, Worldwide Tech Director at Square-Enix.
He says that Sony and Microsoft’s intentions of keeping this current generation going for 8-10 years have amounted to “the biggest mistake they’ve ever made.” Read on to learn about his reasoning.
I would suggest that maybe we don’t want long generations. We have Sony and Microsoft talking about this generation lasting 7,8,9 or even 10 years and it’s the biggest mistake they’ve ever made.
This generation has been way too long, and I say this because you have a lot of developers that work on a new platform, and perhaps will not succeed, so they will wait for the next generation, and will jump on that platform. You could not do that with this generation though. So these developers went elsewhere to see if the grass was greener. They found web browsers, they found iOS, they found other things and a lot of them won’t come back to the hardware platforms.
His sentiment is one that I’ve thought about on my own: in a world of expensive development costs, if developers can’t find success on your system, they’re going to migrate to a cheaper alternative. It’s my justification for the assertion that Wii U Will Not be Behind Next Generation – once those big leap next-gen systems hit, Wii U will be one of the cheaper alternatives, and unlike Wii, the differences won’t necessarily add up to huge and difficult compromises.
Mr. Merceron even goes on to say that the graphical tech isn’t going to be everything:
Focusing on graphics only would be a huge mistake. You start to have super great graphics, characters look really good and you end up in the uncanny valley, but you don’t have animation at the same quality level. Same thing with behavior and AI; it animates well and looks good, but it is making stupid decisions. It simply won’t be immersive.
I find it a little ironic that a statement like this is coming out of Square-Enix of all places, but I’ll definitely take it nonetheless. It’s a solid truth, and one that I think the industry should follow.