Opinion: I’m Not A Fan Of Upgradeable Consoles

In a report that came out Wednesday from Kotaku, and later corroborated by Polygon, Microsoft is planning to release two new Xbox Ones over the next two years. The first, which is expected to be revealed at or around E3 this year, will be a cheaper and smaller model of the Xbox One that may have 4K support for video content. I have no qualms with this model, as we’ve seen this type of idea before with the PS2 Slim, Xbox 360 Elite, PS3 Slim and so on and so forth. Aside from its size, memory storage and ability to support 4K, this model won’t be much different from the standard and 1TB Xbox Ones available now. But the second model, codenamed “Scorpio,” is apparently four times more powerful than the current Xbox One and will release sometime in 2017. This is where I have a problem.

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I hate the idea of an iterated console. I’m a simple man: I like to buy the next generation console and hope it will last for at least five years, no ifs ands or buts. I invest a nice sum of cash and I’m content with my new piece of hardware for awhile. But with the release of the PS4 and Xbox One, they’ve become viewed as low end to mid range PCs that are already inferior to the high end builds. Unfortunately, it’s inevitable that we will be seeing newer, significantly more powerful iterations on the PS4 and Xbox One. I accept that there will be a more appealing console from Sony and Microsoft that allows games to look and perform better, but in a perfect world I hope this is a one time deal: a new generation of consoles release and in three years or so, a newer and more powerful model is out and that’s it for the generation. If consoles are going to see newer models every few years then I’d rather just switch to PC gaming.

Via Kotaku, “In addition, people familiar with Microsoft’s plans have told Keza that the company is moving toward an iterative approach for their consoles, not unlike Apple. Sources say that instead of one hardware revision every five years or so, as has been the case with previous console cycles, Microsoft plans to move towards an incremental model, with more frequent hardware releases and games that are both forwards and backwards compatible across both Windows 10 and different Xbox models.”

When it’s put into perspective, Microsoft isn’t wrong to want to iterate. Companies like Apple and Samsung do it all the time with their technology, and it won’t stop any time soon because there will always be people who want the newest iPhone or iPad. It’s supply and demand, and that may ultimately be the case for console owners once the newest model is introduced. You can’t fault someone for wanting the newest stuff, but for me, it becomes a problem when people have to put up a lot of money so their games can look the best. If retailers such as Gamestop and the like had a program like phone carriers do, then I’d be more at ease. Companies will let you trade in your old phone, tablet, etc. towards the newest model at a significantly lower price. I think it would be wise if video game retailers have a similar system instead of a standard trade in for x amount of credit.

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The latter of the two reported consoles is what scares me the most for the near and far future of consoles. Will future console generations see multiple models, with each successor being more powerful than the last? I don’t want to have to worry about whether or not it’s worth waiting because the newest model may be announced at an event. My brother has been asking about which system to get and he’s not happy that he may drop a few hundred dollars only to find out that within a few months there’s already a superior console available to consumers. Three to four hundred dollars is not cheap, and it would be a significant annoyance to spend that money and in two years the next model is another three to four hundred.

I have to imagine this situation is also frustrating for anyone who, on consoles, wants their games to look their best. I can’t imagine playing Uncharted 4 or The Witcher 3 and thinking, “You know, this game could look and play better if I had that new PS4 or Xbox.” Personally I’m not as worried with this as others may be, but it is a legitimate concern. No matter how appealing that AAA game may be, you’ll always have a thought in the back of your mind that someone else is playing the same game, but a prettier version.

From the reports regarding Sony’s more powerful PS4, the PS4 Neo, won’t have any exclusive games and it sounds like current PS4 games will perform better on the newer system due to its greater specs. Nintendo’s New 3DS has utilized its greater power to increase load times and performance for games. Fortunately for that, there have only been a few games that are exclusive to the newer model, as well as the SNES Virtual Console. In regards to the PS4 Neo it doesn’t seem like there will be any games exclusive to it, which is refreshing because having a game exclusively on Neo that people are excited about would do more harm than good, in my opinion.

Though the Xbox One has sold well so far, it’s vastly behind the PS4 in sales and it seems that Microsoft is trying to get a significant leg up on its biggest competition. That’s all well and good, especially when the reports are suggesting that Codename Scorpio is even more powerful than the PS4 Neo, but is disparity so significant that Scorpio will have games exclusive to it? “Four times more powerful” isn’t something I take lightly, and I wouldn’t blame developers for wanting to utilize the stronger system. Would it be easier to develop games for? I don’t know much about developing games so I have no idea if it makes things easier, but we’ll see in the future.

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These are my greatest concerns about the PS4 Neo and the newly detailed Codename Scorpio. I don’t want a console generation to see an upgraded system every two to three years, because $400 is a lot of money for one system as it is. If Microsoft and Sony can find a way to make things more cost effective for consumers who want to upgrade, I’ll be less of a curmudgeon. But for now, I hope my current PS4 and Xbox One can last until 2019, maybe even 2020. Otherwise, I’ll take my gaming to PC. What are your thoughts on upgradeable consoles? Let us know in the comments!


Brett Woodmansee is an editor for The Game Bolt and he loves RPGs, Chipotle and his beard. For tweets about video games, sports and more, follow him on Twitter.