A Plea to the Video Game Industry: Wait!

It's a shame that this generation of consoles won't be remembered for games like "Resident Evil 4" or "Metal Gear Solid 3." Sure, they'll go down as classics. In the coming years we'll look back only to realize how wasted this gen was. On May 12th, Microsoft will unveil the next Xbox console less than four years after the current one was released. This new system will be on store shelves by Christmas.

This has been the shortest life span for any successful console ever. The 2600 went from 1978 to around 1984 (and games were still coming out much longer than that) when the entire industry crumbled. Six years makes it seem like you've got your moneys worth, three does not.

The NES came in 1985 and lasted well into 1992. Seven years passed until the successor, the Super NES, was on shelves. Nintendo fought it out and waited well into 1997 to release the N64. That console, even with some lackluster sales, wasn't eclipsed until 2002.

Why all the Nintendo mentioned here? They do things right in the home arena. They wait, give consumers their moneys worth before expecting them to plunk down $200-$300 on new hardware. The last company not to follow at least a five-year cycle was Sega, and they don't make systems anymore. What's that tell you?

Maybe it would be acceptable if this current round of consoles were showing their age. They're not. Once look at the new "Splinter Cell" on the Xbox is enough to make your jaw hit the floor. These systems are just coming into their own. Yes, PC games are starting to make their move, and that's fine. You get what you pay for. On a consumer and casual budget, this is as good as it gets.

The Xbox will still be supported of course after the new iteration is released. However, it's obvious where the focus is going to go. This move makes Microsoft look desperate. They want to be first to the market and though it looks like a good move on paper, in execution it's not smart. Many attribute the death of the Dreamcast to its early release. Once Sony starting spouting off numbers on the Playstation 2, DC sales took a major hit (though there were other factors involved).

Maybe it would make sense if sales were declining too, but they're not. Playstation 2's are just now coming back into stock after the holiday season and Xbox's are few in number. Microsoft is again hurting themselves if the rumors are true about their factories prepping the next-gen Xbox instead of putting the current one in stores. The $150-$179 price point is great one for the casual gamers and parents. A system should still have a decent lifespan left by this point. If not, you're only ticking off those who just bought a new system last year.

So, let this be a plea to the major gaming companies to wait. It's a plea that won't be heard of course as they see dollar signs and not common sense. This is an industry already on shaky ground with originality lacking, one company buying all the rest, and clearance sales (like the recent $1.99 Circuit City sale) becoming commonplace. It's a tight spot, and a new console this year is not about to make that any better.

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I'm not sure I agree with this advice to Microsoft, but it's hard to say until the features and pricing of the Xbox 360 are known.... [Read More]

Comments (5)

Three years is just ridiculous. I think I read that Xbox 1 software will be supported until 2007 - that is when Xbox 2 should be coming out if you ask me.

I will not be buying an Xbox 2 launches, thats for sure. And aren't I part of that coveted 18-34 demographic that buys these glorified computers?

In less then two months time we have seen Splinter Cell 3, DOOM 3, and Jade Empire. These are three games that truly take advantage of the Xbox capabilities, and show them off beautifully.

Xbox sales for the month of March were in the 200,000 range, it is not like people are not buying them. I wish they would wait too.

New software coming out will no doubt have to be programmed for both the Xbox and Xbox 2. Why would they do this? Xbox has a large install base, thus more units of Xbox games will sell.

Microsoft is just showing its knowledge of the video game industry.

In due time I am sure I will pick up an Xbox 2, but not this year. The only game that interests me is Elder Scrolls IV, and I need more then one reason to purchase new gaming hardware.

We heard you say that about the PSP too at launch. We all know how THAT turned out.

Hey, I never said that I would not be buying a PSP at launch. I just never said I was going to buy one. There is a different.

And you are going to lose your bet about selling my PSP.

Sanford Stewart:

I have to respectfully disagree. While some of the points you are making are valid the current Xbox is truly beginning to show it's age as far as it's performance.

The Xbox suffers often from crashes, frame rate problems, and horrible loading times. Some games made for the Xbox end up going to the PC with more content because developers admit that the Xbox's hardware can't handle more complex rendered levels or multiple characters in the game environment.

Developers would like to do more but they are constantly hitting walls of limitation with the Xbox.

What games crash? What long loading times? What games have went to the PC because the 'Box couldn't do it?

The system manages Doom 3 pretty damned well and also is going to handle a Half-life 2 port, two of the most complicated PC games out there. I have heard none of what you said and I follow the industry closer than everyone except those actually in it. Try again.

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