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XBox (Games) Games

Next Console Generation Defined By Software, Not Hardware 177

Posted by Soulskill
from the console-two-point-oh dept.
Fast Company recent spoke with Microsoft exec Shane Kim about Natal and the future of the Xbox 360. Kim said they're very interested in continuing to build out support for social networking and digital distribution, and he also made some interesting remarks about their long term plans. Quoting: "It really has much more to do with ... the innovation and longevity that will be created when Project Natal is added to that mix and the value and the entertainment options that we continue to expand on Xbox Live. The 'next generation' will be defined by software and services, not hardware. In the past we would always get this question: 'Hey, there's a new console launch every five years and you're coming up on that time for Xbox, right?' That's the old treadmill way of thinking. Before you had things that were very obvious, from a hardware standpoint — pushing more pixels, the move from 2-D to 3-D, 3-D to HD, etc. We got a very powerful piece of hardware in Xbox 360. I am confident that we have more headroom available, in terms of developers and creators figuring out how to get more out of the system. So I worry less about new hardware having to enable us to move to a different level of graphics. It's much more about the experiences that you are going to deliver."
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Next Console Generation Defined By Software, Not Hardware

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 31, 2009 @12:57AM (#28892535)

    Where the console with the best hardware (PS3) is winning, and the under-specced Wii is in a distant third place.

    Oh, wait.

    • by Goldberg's Pants (139800) on Friday July 31, 2009 @12:58AM (#28892547) Journal

      It's a nonsense comment. The software ALREADY defines the consoles. You can have the latest hardware in the world, but if you have no decent games, your system is a paper weight.

      Microsoft really do know how to make something out of absolutely nothing don't they...

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by DeadDecoy (877617)
        I wouldn't say the several billion they invested to enter the market was nothing...
        The problem with the PS3 is not that it doesn't have software but that it's software and features don't distinguish it enough from the cheaper competitor: Microsoft. The Wii OTOH did a couple of things right: target a broader audience, secure exclusive titles for their system, and set a lower price. Software is certainly a significant part of selling a console, but there are other contributing factors like price and accessi
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Patoski (121455)

        It's a nonsense comment. The software ALREADY defines the consoles. You can have the latest hardware in the world, but if you have no decent games, your system is a paper weight.

        Yes, software the console with the best software library wins (e.g. PS1, PS2, and Wii). And yes, none of the those consoles had the best hardware of their generation.

        However, I think you're missing the new nugget of information here. The software playing field has been stretched and MS is relying on software other than games (which are mostly cross platform now) to be their key differentiator. We've already seen some of this, but it looks like we'll be seeing a lot more.

        MS has wanted to be the home enter

      • by BikeHelmet (1437881) on Friday July 31, 2009 @01:56AM (#28892797) Journal

        You know, the perfect example of this is the Gamecube and Wii.

        The Wii is basically an overclocked gamecube with some new input devices. (oversimplification, but you get the idea)

        Compare 2001 Gamecube games to 2008/2009 Wii games, and look at the difference in graphics quality. Twilight Princess is available on gamecube, and it puts earlier titles to shame.

        So yes, I agree - software already defines the console.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Aside from the Bluray I'd say the Xbox360 has better hardware. Having 3 dual threaded in order processors is infinitely better than one single threaded in order processor with 7 crippled DSPs strapped on. The graphics card on the PS3 is no better; had the PS3 come out when scheduled it would have been top of the line hardware, but having a 7800GT in the console was rather unimpressive given when it came out, IMHO...

      The Cell was built to easily pump through HD media (they were planning it for handling their

      • "Having 3 dual threaded in order processors is infinitely better than one single threaded in order processor with 7 crippled DSPs strapped on."

        Why do people use words like "infinitely" into a sentence when they mean "marginally"? For that matter, why do people use "literally" when they mean "figuratively"?

        As a representative of this group, perhaps you can enlighten me. I would be literally be infinitely in your debt.
      • I'm not sure why cranky, hyperbolic posts like this get modded up.

        Like any hardware, the value you get depends on how you want to use it. As for the SPUs being crippled, having them 'strapped on' to the main high bandwidth processor bus makes them much more usable as stream processors, in my opinion.

        It's easy to pile shit on top of a new idea in an attempt to keep things the same. In the end, as we've seen, it's possible to design cool games on both machines and that's what matters.

      • The Cell's PPE is dual threaded, with an Altivec unit for each. Easy enough to prove:

        [CronoCloud@mideel ~]$ cat /proc/cpuinfo
        processor : 0
        cpu : Cell Broadband Engine, altivec supported
        clock : 3192.000000MHz
        revision : 5.1 (pvr 0070 0501)

        processor : 1
        cpu : Cell Broadband Engine, altivec supported
        clock : 3192.000000MHz
        revision : 5.1 (pvr 0070 0501)

        timebase : 79800000
        platform : PS3
        model : SonyPS3

    • Right, software makes or breaks a console, but at the end of the day, previous generations have been defined by the hardware. As in, you'd say "Final fantasy 7 and 9 were two of the games I played most that generation." Graphically and otherwise, they were very different, but they were still the same generation because they were still on the same console. They're how everyone marked the progress in console videogames.

      Microsoft isn't so hot to waste more money on developing a new console, partly because o

      • I know other people think that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, and want the next generation to hurry up, but I'd submit that these people should probably have switched to PCs years ago

        PCs and consoles have historically specialized in different genres of video games. PCs have more FPS and RTS because of their input method (keyboard and mouse); consoles have more single-screen multiplayer games because of their output method (larger screen that more people can see at once). So fans of console-style genres, like party games and fighting games, can't easily switch to PCs unless they want to stay in emulators all the time.

        • So fans of console-style genres, like party games and fighting games, can't easily switch to PCs unless they want to stay in emulators all the time.

          That's a good point, but I was saying that people who just want newer, better hardware should switch, and in general it seems that people who want to be at the cutting edge of hardware aren't big fans of party games. Fighting games maybe, but I'd argue that many fighters don't really need to have graphics that max out the hardware. Especially 2d fighting games, to my eyes at least 10 year old 2d fighters hardly show their age. Plus there are games released for PC, street fighter 4 was.

          Anyway, the bigger

          • Fighting games maybe, but I'd argue that many fighters don't really need to have graphics that max out the hardware.

            But even if a game's graphics don't max out the hardware, the publisher has to release on a platform that's still around. Unlike Sony, which has done a good job of overlapping the PS2 with the PS1 and the PS3 with the PS2, Nintendo and Microsoft have a history of EOLing their console platforms soon after the new console comes out. (In the meantime, Nintendo relies on its handhelds and Microsoft on its Windows business.) Even if your fighting game has N64-level graphics, Nintendo doesn't approve new titles f

            • I feel like we're getting off on tangents. I was saying if anyone's upset about the next gen of consoles being delayed, they probably should have switched to PCs. "So players who want to play newly released games have to upgrade to a new platform" is beside the point, the new platform isn't coming for a while.

              What's the PC alternative to the Super Smash Bros. series?

              I specifically mentioned first party games. They're never going to be released on a competitor's console or harware. That's not a problem with PC games, that's inherent to console makers making gam

    • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot&hackish,org> on Friday July 31, 2009 @03:07AM (#28893103)

      In the really old days, a platform was almost synonymous with its hardware: when you wrote straight assembly on the Atari VCS and directly controlled the video interface, the hardware was your game platform. What you could or couldn't do on the platform was more or less defined but what you could or couldn't get its bizarre hardware to do. (There's an excellent recent book [amazon.com] that traces just how big an influence the Atari's odd hardware had on its game design, among other things.)

      But that hasn't been true for a while. Sure, hardware is still an important part of the platform. But so are lots of other things. What's the programming model? What kind of SDK do you have? What libraries are there? How does the platform look to a programmer? What can they do with it easily and what's hard to do on it? Hardware is only one of the things from that perspective; unless you're programming on bare metal, what matters is the entire stack. The hardware could be so terrible or so great that it makes or breaks the entire stack. But I would suspect that of the things that can be an impediment to producing a good game on a particular platform, "the hardware just couldn't support what we wanted to do" is the bottleneck less and less often.

      • by dissy (172727)

        What you could or couldn't do on the platform was more or less defined but what you could or couldn't get its bizarre hardware to do. (There's an excellent recent book [amazon.com] that traces just how big an influence the Atari's odd hardware had on its game design, among other things.)

        Then you will probably enjoy reading through some of the Atari 2600 programming tutorials. The hardware is so primitive, and some games go way beyond what anyone at the time thought would even be possible, it is simply amazing to learn about.

        One most excellent one (My personal favorite), by Andrew Davie:
        http://www.atariage.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=33233 [atariage.com]
        I would suggest skipping chapter 1 if you know of assembly. Either knowing enough to follow, or know about it and don't care, either way the fun sta

  • It's a PC. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Friday July 31, 2009 @12:57AM (#28892539) Journal
    Sounds like they're trying to turn the console into a locked-down PC.
    • You're spot on, but about 8 years late. This was MS' goal ever since the XBox. A locked down PC that MS has complete control over is MS last chance at regaining some of its past monopolistic swagger. And before anyone brings up the Playstation, Sony is playing the same game. They're just a bit behind.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Sony is playing the same game. They're just a bit behind.

        Right, right. That's probably why the console is region free for games, supports all sorts of third party peripherals and devices and lets you install linux on it, huh?

        • Good grief, AC. Take your Sony glasses off. Region free is completely unrelated to how locked down a console is. All consoles support third party peripherals, and is again strictly a question of licensing, not how locked down a console is. Finally, let me know how it goes playing PS3 games on your Linux install. When you get Home running on it, you can come back and talk about openness.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by CronoCloud (590650)

            When you install Linux on a PS3, it doesn't remove the GameOS functionality. It's similar, but not exactly similar, to a dual-boot situation. I'm using Linux on my PS3 as I'm writing this response, but if I want to, one "ps3-boot-game-os" in the terminal and a minute later I'm back in GameOS.

      • And before anyone brings up the Playstation, Sony is playing the same game. They're just a bit behind.

        The Linux support in the PlayStation 3 suggests that they want a PC that's not nearly as locked down as Microsoft's dream machine.

    • by dissy (172727)

      Sounds like they're trying to turn the console into a locked-down PC.

      Close. They tried with the original Xbox. With the 360, they did, and did it fairly well.

      • Re:It's a PC. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by plasmacutter (901737) on Friday July 31, 2009 @04:17AM (#28893383)

        Sounds like they're trying to turn the console into a locked-down PC.

        Close. They tried with the original Xbox. With the 360, they did, and did it fairly well.

        except that part where they didn't, as evidenced by the billion xbox360 iso's floating around p2p networks.

    • Sounds like they're trying to turn the console into a locked-down PC

      You could make the argument that any console is a locked-down PC. But with every generation they add new features to these bastardized PCs.

    • If given the choice, I'd rather have a locked-down PC. Reason? On a PC, I can use both keyboard, mouse, and game controller all at the same time. Try that on a xbox. xbox has tons of fps games, and using the xbox controller is very very annoying. The addons you can buy are expensive and aren't universal for every game. Microsoft marketing are full of idiots. They can easily make a locked down version of full size keyboard mouse combo with the security chip for the xbox and charge 90+ usd each for it, and pu

    • by brkello (642429)

      Honestly, what do you think they are now?

  • The 'next generation' will be defined by software and services, not hardware.

    Translation:

    The bean-counters upstairs told me they weren't going to throw another NN Billion dollars at hardware that hasn't yet made a return on investment.

  • by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Friday July 31, 2009 @01:18AM (#28892647) Homepage

    As we achieve a given level of sophistication in any field and make technological limits virtually go away, the limiting factor is always going to be human creativity.

    Take oil painting, for instance. We've had mostly all the colors we need for hundreds and hundreds of years. Yet, new and interesting art is still being created. When the development of paints were still in the early stages I'm sure people marveled at new colors like we today marvel at ever more photo realistic graphics. But once the initial excitement wears off what we're really left with is how good the game plays, how well written the story is, etc.

    Games, like books, paintings, movies and so many other things before them, will not be defined by technological achievements in the coming centuries. The best games I've played to date aren't good because of tech, but great stories and immersive and imaginative environments. Grim Fandango is still the best game I've played to date story-wise, and while the replay value of an adventure game like that is sadly very low I'm very much looking forward to playing it again with my kids once they are old enough. It is worth noting that i played Grim Fandango as an adult, so the nostalgia factor is not dimming my senses much at least... ;)

    • by crazybit (918023)
      Anyone who has ever watched an oil painting knows that, for hundreds of years, painters have had more "resolution and colors" than the highest multimedia/gaming equipment available. Painting with oil is an "analog" process that can't be compared with digital imaging. Until a "Mona Lisa" picture in our computer has the same detail and resolution than the original people will always demand better graphics/hardware.
      • by TapeCutter (624760) * on Friday July 31, 2009 @04:14AM (#28893377) Journal
        I just blew off some mod points to answer this. An oil painting has terrible resolution, get up close and you can only see dawbs of paint. Stand back and those dawbs of paint turn into tiny details that look almost photo realistic.

        The skill of the artist is not to acurately paint what is in front of him, the skill is to trick the veiwers brain into seeing what artist wants them to see. The "high resolution" of the Mona Lisa when viewed from a few feet is simply your brain filling out the details that are not actually there when you examine the painting closely.
        • by crazybit (918023)
          Terrible resolution in an oil painting? what are you talking about? check this 2500 x 1600 photo of a painting [saatchi-gallery.co.uk] made by Nicola Bockelmann [saatchi-gallery.co.uk] and tell me where you see "dawbs of paint" [google.com].

          You can also do a search for photorealism paintings [google.com] and look for the "dawbs of paint" you are talking about.

          I got a 19th century oil painting at my house and I have looked it with a magnifying glass, and I can tell you there are no "dawbs of paint". Too bad my photo camera broke and I can't take a close up picture of it.
      • by Toonol (1057698) on Friday July 31, 2009 @04:53AM (#28893553)
        Ok. Then take a known, low-res source: A movie on DVD. Say, "The Matrix". 32 bit color, 720x480 resolution. Laughably low, right? I mean, that's WII-level specs!

        And yet a well-done movie on DVD looks FAR better than a 1080p clip of gameplay on a PS3. Why? Because the modeling, animation, and physics are lagging FAR behind raw resolution.
      • by donaldm (919619)
        The problem is that humans have physical limitations such as a hearing limit of approx 20kHz and with 1080p HDTV's you are reaching what the human eye can distinguish unless you are up close and if you are up close you very quickly get a headache. The only area that has potential is smell and touch and that raises some interesting problems. For touch, force feedback comes to mind although how much force begs the question. Smell? well imagine entering a game area that has a huge collection of zombies or a ca
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BikeHelmet (1437881)

      I fully agree with you. I'm more impressed by advances in story telling tech, than fancy graphics. Mass Effect, for example.

      Mind you, both never hurt.

      In the past I was always more immersed in narrated games like Diablo II, than newer, more graphical games like Oblivion. Poor narration and amazing graphics (marred by the occasional horrible texture) really detracted from the experience, not to mention the totally unbalanced combat. I got much more pleasure out of earlier games.

      Diablo II, Disciples II, Prince

      • Mass Effect NEEDED its high-end graphics. Its opening cutscene where you character is introduced would NOT have been possible on lesser hardware where they would have either had to use amazingly low-ress animation OR a pre-rendered cut-scene. The WOW! effect was achieved because it was YOUR character in the cutscene with a seamless transition from cutscene to gameplay.

        AND Mass Effect is NOT the end. It still needed pre-rendered scenes for the big space battle at the end. One day that too can be rendered in

        • I wonder why that is? Where is your Diablo? Or its ancestors? Why don't you play them if graphics don't matter so much?

          Diablo didn't have a whole lot of narration. No puzzles to speak of, and the gameplay wasn't terribly good compared to later games.

          But you do raise a valid point - I enjoyed Titan Quest even more than Diablo II, so clearly graphics are important - I just don't rate them at the very top.

          What is rather telling is that ALL of the games you mention are sequels. Sequels that were produced for far more powerful hardware then the originals.

          1) I never played Disciples. I can't comment on it.
          2) Psychonauts wasn't a sequel.
          3) Beyond Good & Evil wasn't a sequel.
          4) I was referring to Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. I don't believe it's a sequel, though if y

    • "The best games I've played to date aren't good because of tech, but great stories and immersive and imaginative environment"

      I'm going to say that YES tech does matter since we're talking about game engines that define the SCOPE of an artists and level designers creativity, tech is just as much a part of the art. All good art you've ever seen, books, games, etc, require skill and technique and that is the essence of technology whether it is an artist or an engineer designing a game engine, or computer engi

    • So what you're saying is... you can't wait for Madden 2010?

  • by crazybit (918023) on Friday July 31, 2009 @01:45AM (#28892755)
    maybe it was "powerful" in 2005 when it was unveiled. But for today's standards, a Xenos graphics chip [wikipedia.org] is a joke. Xenos GPU was the precursor of the Radeon R600 processor [wikipedia.org], which was used up to Radeon HD 3400. You can get a Radeon HD 4650 [newegg.com] for under 50 bucks, and will totally obliterate Xbox's graphics capabilities.

    Problem is gaming companies are making many titles "console only", or their PC ports are crappy emulation (like GTA4) - that leaves gamers with no choice but buying/using a console with outdated hardware.
    • by BenevolentP (1220914) on Friday July 31, 2009 @03:08AM (#28893105)

      I switched from exclusively PC gaming to exclusively console gaming about 5 years ago and never looked back. I could probably buy a house if i had saved the money i wasted in a hardware pissing contest i had with my friends ("doom looks so much smoother with my dx4/100. Oh, are these real instruments in the background? Have to buy a 200 Euro wavebank soundcard.") when i was younger.
      Though i know high end PC hardware is cheaper now, i still enjoy not worrying if a game will work, if i really get the best/intended experience with my rig or if i rather should have waited a month to buy gfx card xy instead of xy+.
      I have the same PC since about 5 years now, and will probably buy a new one when they become so small that you could accidentally inhale them.

      • by Krneki (1192201)
        This is true, but PC gaming are the pinnacle of technology, this is why you pay so much for the hardware.

        I'll stay with the PC, the main reason is that I don't like console games, they are too limited once you see what is possible on the PC.
        • by tepples (727027)

          PC gaming are the pinnacle of technology, this is why you pay so much for the hardware.

          But I question whether it's worth a factor of five or more if you have more than one gamer in the household. How much does it cost to buy one Xbox 360 console and three extra gamepads, vs. how much for replacing four obsolescent PCs with up-to-date gaming PCs?

      • Rapid PC replacement has REALLY tapered off. I expect to get a full 5 years out of my current 2 year old quad core, playing all modern games (hell i run 5 copies of World of Warcraft with ease). Consoles have really retarded the PC arms race. I own all 3 consoles as well, and i definitely play more console now then i did when PCs really were the pinnacle of video gaming
    • by Spit (23158)

      PC owners with better than Xenos hardware would be a small market; people aren't driven to upgrade and when they do it's usually just a baseline box, or increasingly a laptop. Only a hobbyist would really care about the differences between a nvidia 9500 and 9600. That and rampant piracy are why PC gaming is in the shitter.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Elshar (232380)

        Piracy and high-end hardware isn't the problem with PC gaming today. The piracy part is caused mostly from two factors:

        The Demos (When there are demos) released aren't very representative of the end product, and often misrepresent a game by only letting you play a small portion of it. Compare any demo these days to the "demo" for Wolfenstein 3D, Doom 1/2, or Quake. The first episode/group of levels was free, and served as a very good demo. You knew exactly what you were getting when you finally ponied up th

    • by Saffaya (702234)

      It seems that you are unaware of the advantage of having a standardized graphics subsystem.

      This allows you to extract much more power from a given hardware (Console) than when you have to support different architectures (PC).

      Which makes the direct comparison console gpu specs to PC gpu specs an incorrect move.

  • Hardware (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Toonol (1057698) on Friday July 31, 2009 @01:50AM (#28892773)
    Fast hardware lost this gen to the slowest (Wii). It lost last gen to the slowest (PS2). You can argue that two gens ago, the PS1 was slower than the N64, although that's less certain. Raw speed is most certainly not the most important component of success for a console.

    I wouldn't say hardware was unimportant, though. The Wii won because of its hardware, clearly. But it needs to be looked at in terms of what the hardware actually brings to the buyer. Higher res? Who cares? Faster refresh? Doesn't matter. Better AI and gameplay? Well, that might help, but it's pretty clear that the 360's and PS3's improved processors aren't being used for that.

    New methods of control, new interfaces, whole new styles of gameplay? Microphones, vibrations, sensors, speakers, and so forth... now, that will catch a customer's eye. That makes playing a game something new, instead of a slightly glossier but nearly indistinguishable version of an older game. New hardware is important, but the growth needs to branch out in new directions, instead of being this one-dimensional 'better graphics' mantra that the consoles have been pushing. Improvements in graphics are mattering less and less.
    • by donaldm (919619)

      I wouldn't say hardware was unimportant, though. The Wii won because of its hardware, clearly. But it needs to be looked at in terms of what the hardware actually brings to the buyer. Higher res? Who cares? Faster refresh? Doesn't matter. Better AI and gameplay? Well, that might help, but it's pretty clear that the 360's and PS3's improved processors aren't being used for that.

      The "Wii won"? You can only say that if it's true when the last PS3, Wii and Xbox360 ships. You can say that of their generation the PS1 followed by the PS2 definitely won even though the PS2 has not finished selling yet. Yes the Wii is leading compared to each Xbox and PS3 individually but combined since they are both HD consoles and powerful ones at that, they are selling more than the Wii by approx 3 million world wide. As for better AI well there are some Xbox and PS3 games that aren't that good but mos

      • Re:Hardware (Score:4, Informative)

        by ookaze (227977) <ookaze.mail@ookaze@fr> on Friday July 31, 2009 @11:38AM (#28896917) Homepage

        The "Wii won"? [...] Yes the Wii is leading compared to each Xbox and PS3 individually

        This is exactly what "The Wii won" means. So there are still people like you in denial.
        BTW, the Wii didn't even receive a price cut yet, and it's going on to complete its 3rd year in the market. Just saying...

        Improvements in graphics are mattering less and less.

        If that was the case we would all be still playing pong and enjoying it. :)

        Yet the Wii just proved that improvements in graphics are mattering less and less, by outselling even the XB360 in the USA, despite the USA being the core market of the XB360, and it having 1 year headstart. I see that as a very good proof that improvements in graphics are mattering less and less.

    • I don't know why the wii won consumers, but a critical factor in its overall success is that the consoles themselves were also profitable.

      If you're not taking a loss on the hardware sales, you're not going to start making inane statements like "no new hardware" when your production costs finally come down enough that you aren't selling the units at a loss (on a marginal cost basis) any more.

      Nintendo is going to update their hardware. It's just a matter of time really, since the wii was designed for that li

    • Actually, the low-powered hardware won because it was the cheapest. Consumers jump for the intersection between price and available games.
    • by brkello (642429)
      Well, that might help, but it's pretty clear that the 360's and PS3's improved processors aren't being used for that.

      Uh, why would you think that it isn't. Developers have even come out and said they didn't want their game on the Wii because it would cripple what they wanted to do.

      I am still not convinced the Wii has won. Clearly, it has sold the most hardware...but despite that, its software numbers don't scale to match the lead they have in hardware. Anecdotally, all the people I know who own Wii's
    • You can argue that two gens ago, the PS1 was slower than the N64, although that's less certain.

      That is actually very certain. The N64 cpu [wikipedia.org] was a 64-bit 93MHz processor with a 66MHz coprocessor to handle 3d geometry transformations and sound processing. Plus it had separate drawing hardware (developed by SGI) and a high-speed (for the time) 500 MHz rambus interface to 4MBs of main memory.

      By contrast the PS1 cpu [wikipedia.org] was a 32-bit 33.8MHz chip, without the dsp and a single coprocessor handled both geometry transform

  • Except for maybe nintendo, we are going to see this gen of hardware for the forseeable future, much longer then anyone thought at the start. Thats not necessarily a bad thing. The machines are all set up with their own digital money printing presses, the graphics are not THAT noticeably off from PC save for AA which can be glaring on consoles at times. I think PC game dev is significantly slowed because of this gen of consoles, with longtime PC proponents finally falling to them (Epic Games, im looking at y
    • by donaldm (919619)

      I think PC game dev is significantly slowed because of this gen of consoles, with longtime PC proponents finally falling to them (Epic Games, im looking at you! No Gear of war 2 for PC is a shame

      This is the dilemma that Microsoft faces now, do they push PC gaming over Xbox360 gaming. Push one over the other then they are dammed in the eyes of the other party so what Microsoft has done (gasp! to their credit) is have a common set of API's which enables games developed for PC's to be ported to the Xbox360 and vice versa. I am quite sure they know that there are dedicated PC gamers that will not touch a console, hence the balancing act.

      Personally I think you will see Gears of War 2 ported to the PC

      • A relevant article: Epic Games won't be bringing Gears of War 2 to the PC. That's their story and they're stickin' to it. It's "definitely" not happening, swears designer Cliff Bleszinski, pointing to a worsening PC gaming environment. "The person who is savvy enough to want to have a good PC to upgrade their video card, is a person who is savvy enough to know [BitTorrent] to know all the elements so they can pirate software," says Bleszinski. "Therefore, high-end videogames are suffering very much on the
  • Stagnation? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Garrett Fox (970174) on Friday July 31, 2009 @03:20AM (#28893169) Homepage
    I'm not sure whether to think of this development as a good thing. The obvious benefit for gamers is that they won't need to buy a whole new console so often. But the gaming industry seems to be hitting a technological wall, in that graphics are about as good as they need to be to look shiny and realistic. Same for gameplay complexity. There's a bigger difference between an Atari 2600 level of technology (as in "Adventure") and NES-level ("The Legend of Zelda"), than there is between NES-level and oh, PS1 level. That is, once you get to a halfway-decent tech level you can get recognizable graphics and gameplay that's not all that different from modern games'. "Final Fantasy X" could've been made for the NES if it'd had more raw storage space.

    I've been thinking about whether AI could be a breakthrough technology that revolutionizes gaming, but after reading about game-specific AI I'm kind of shell-shocked. The kind of AI that people want for games tends to be remarkably stupid, mostly meant to dispense quests and die entertainingly. From what I understand of that impressive-looking recent demo about the AI-driven kid, 90% of that was fake, and didn't need to be real AI to impress an audience.

    So, unless developers find new gameplay styles that really push the hardware, there's little point in advancing the hardware any farther. I don't much care whether my enemies splatter with true Newtonian realism when I frag them with a plasma rifle.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by grumbel (592662)

      But the gaming industry seems to be hitting a technological wall, in that graphics are about as good as they need to be to look shiny and realistic.

      While graphics themselves look pretty damn good these days, their animation, behavior and physics more often then not are completly abysmal. The real world isn't build out of styrofoam and card board boxes, but video game worlds seem to be, as that seems to be the best current generation physics engines are able to do. So there is still quite a lot of stuff left that we can solve by throwing more computing power at the problem.

      The problem with stagnation seems to be more an issue with marketing then with ha

    • by Targon (17348)

      Realistic? Not even close. It takes roughly 5 million polygons to fully render a human in full detail, and even the best GPU on the PC side of things isn't close to that. The problem is really that development is going to the lowest common denominator when it comes to multi-platform releases, so developers look at what is available, and code to make sure that in even the scenes where you have the greatest amount of activity in a game that there isn't enough of a slowdown to bother the player.

      Then you

    • This is why I recently bought a PS2 for $100. The used game market is flooded with great PS2 games that no longer look great, but still play just as good as any other game out on shelves. The only difference is that the PS2 games are usually less than $20 a pop, some even $5 or less.

      I'm starting to wonder if maybe it would be nice to follow Sony's new "10 year console" idea. I mean, the only difference between a PS2 and a PS3 gameplay-wise is that the PS3 has a crazy level of draw distance, which does add
      • by Hatta (162192) *

        I'm starting to wonder if maybe it would be nice to follow Sony's new "10 year console" idea.

        It might be, but after 5 years someone is going to release a console with better graphics to compete with the 10 year console.

        • Why would they? If consoles do cost as much to make as they have been, and profits aren't that high, I can't see Microsoft, Nintendo or Sony trying to jump the gun. There wouldn't be any point. If they're able to stabilize their console hardware and manage get a good stream of profits out of the machine, that's better for everyone involved.
          • by Hatta (162192) *

            Because after about 5 years the difference becomes noticeable. If you're an average consumer, and you're trying to decide which console to buy, you'll probably buy the newer one with the better graphics. Sure, it might not work out in the long run, but corporations don't act rationally for long term interests when there's short term gain to be had.

    • by brkello (642429)
      Final Fantasy X on a NES if it had more storage space? Ok, you don't know what you are talking about.
    • by tilandal (1004811)

      A simple graphics update is certainly not what people want but that does not mean that the current hardware generation will last any longer then usual. While Sony and Microsoft want their current hardware to last as long as possible since they sell it at a loss, Nintendo has no such need. Sony and Microsoft liked to play off the Wii as "just an updated Gamecube" but obviously they were wrong and they are left scrambling to play catchup. If you remember E3 a few years back people were lined up around the bui

  • 'next generation' will be defined by software and services, not hardware

    yeah, that's the ticket, online distribution with the exact same price point as physical distribution, but without that pesky "game stop" factor getting in the way.

  • by MtViewGuy (197597) on Friday July 31, 2009 @06:52AM (#28894177)

    While technically the Xbox 360 is a great console, the big problem with this console is the hardware leaves something to be desired in terms of noise and hardware reliability.

    I'm hoping that within the next two years Microsoft will do a "hardware refresh" on the Xbox 360 with a new model that uses improved chip technology to lower the running temperature (hence less need for noisy cooling fans and to improve circuit board reliability) and to possibly offer Blu-ray disc support (especially now that Blu-ray technology licensing needs only one lower cost license, not multiple licenses like in the past).

    • by Nerdfest (867930)
      It would be an excellent time for the BluRay drive too. Although the newest boxes run dead-cold (mine anyway) and the fan is quiet (but not really quiet enough) the DVD drive is way too noisy. I nice quiet BluRay drive would go a long way to making it the media center device they seem to have in mind. Now if only the media companies would stop gouging for BluRay movies.
      • by hibiki_r (649814)

        Any BluRay drive wouldn't do. The PS3 has a BluRay Drive, but it's transfer speeds are much lower than the 360s DVD player. So if you put the same drive in the 360, a good chunk of the games would have longer load times, and those that hide loading with gameplay could end up looking quite choppy.

        There's a reason some PS3 games make large installs in the hard drive to run: Without the installs, the games would be unplayable.

  • Video games started out as pretty simple things that could be created and churned out by a single programmer over the course of a few weeks (and as ET The Extraterrestrial reminds us, that same man could also destroy the entire industry). At the same time and as hardware got stronger, programming team have gotten bigger, and the game creation budgets increased ever larger, all the while game prices have never really increased considerably - while the price of top-tier games has not considerably increased. C

  • It used to be that I looked at a screenshot / gameplay video partly for the quality of the images used in the game. Now I use it to exclusively spot:

    - cutscenes (I've noticed many games whose screenshots are ONLY cutscenes - AVOID)
    - gameplay elements
    - what they *don't* do (Mmm... they never bash that quite obvious object on the wall because the physics don't apply to it)
    - other problems.

    The problem with consoles is that people who are fanatical about them compare only graphics / sound / 3D capabilities. I

    • A modular console sounds like a great seller (buy the Wii 2 now and next year, we'll make the Wii 3 board fit alongside it inside the same casing!).

      Yeah, it sounds like a great idea, but that sort of thing contributed greatly to the death of Sega (i.e., with the Genesis/Sega CD/32X fiasco). Console makers probably aren't very eager to repeat that experiment!

  • With the way us isp are acting digital distribution is still some ways off with the caps, slow speeds in some areas, and crap that some of them do.

  • by sskinnider (1069312) on Friday July 31, 2009 @09:30AM (#28895195)
    I am on my fourth 360. I do not expect it to last another six months!
  • To me, the thing that will hamper the 360 in the long term is the fact that they use DVDs to deliver the games. This limits the amount of content. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas offered a much larger world and a much greater variety of tasks than GTA: IV. The graphical elements of IV take up so much more room on the disk that the world has to be smaller. I appreciated the greater realism in the graphics and the engine in general, but found that I really missed fun elements like the bicycle, jetpack, and
  • RTRT (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Friday July 31, 2009 @02:32PM (#28899575)
    Who says that there isn't room for hardware improvement in game consoles. Real-time raytracing would be a huge improvement that has yet to happen, but is probably reachable at game console costs in 2 more generations.

    The day I say that hardware has gone far enough is when I can't see any further improvement with my eye from increased pixel counts (my eye has a fixed resolution), framerates (my brain only runs so fast), color depth (my eye has a fixed color resolution ability of around 10m colors optimal), or realistic technology (if I can't tell it from real already, then making it twice as good from that won't be any improvement to me). I can see that day arriving in the next decade or so.

    In short, once technology can create a seamless realistic experience at an affordable cost then no further improvement in that area is necessary and efforts should be directed to other areas instead.

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