Monday, 4 February 2013

Console Wars

I've read in a few places that Dragon Age 3: Inquisition might be coming out for the PS4, which may come out in the latter half of this year.

Must admit that I'd be a bit irked at that, as I usually wait a couple of years before buying a 'new' console. They're pricey, and I prefer to be able to have several games I want to play before buying.

The first console I remember owning is the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis for Yankee doodles). Sega, with the Saturn/Dreamcast soon dropped out of the console wars and now the main players are Sony, with the Playstation(s), and Microsoft with the Xbox(es). I wonder if we'll see Apple or Google get involved in the near future.

From the Mega Drive to the Playstation there was a significant upgrade in controllers. The Mega Drive had buttons A, B and C, a d-pad (no analogue sticks, of course) and a start button. The Playstation generation added to this and created the basic configuration we have today (d-pad, two analogue sticks, 4 shoulder buttons, 4 symbol buttons, as well as start and select). Sensibly, they haven't tried to cram more buttons onto the controller.

However, there have been some interesting (and awful) developments of late. The various Wii 'controllers' seem to have gone down very well, and to actually work. Motion sensors which detect and interpret an individual's movement, however, seem to be hit and miss (and usually the latter). There's also the question of whether people have the room to prance around like a Mary Ellen, and whether they want to.

The Wii-U has gone for an additional controller which, (apparently) when held up to the TV screen, can show more information. This just seems pointless to me, if I'm honest. It's supposed to work on a functional level, which makes it better than motion sensors, but I don't see what it adds.

Another, more unexpected, change revolves around televisions. For the first decade or two of my life the big change that happened to telly was a fifth channel being added. In the last few years, though, everything seems to have gone crazy. We went to flat screens. Then ultra-thin flat screens. We got HD, and some have 3D (although they still don't seem to have really cracked that). I swapped my old fat TV for a flat screen some years ago and the graphics were improved by a staggering degree. That's great, of course, but I hope that we don't reach the stage where buying a new console means that a new TV is also needed to actually see its graphics at their best.

Actually, now I come to think of it, console wars are really weird. Generally in technology dual systems (betamax and VHS, 8-track and cassette tapes, blu-ray and HD-DVD) end up co-existing for a very short length of time before one (NB not necessarily better) system gets a critical advantage and the alternative is obliterated.

Yet videogames have had more than two rivals systems going back all the way to the first consoles/systems that could be bought and played at home. Hmm.


No comments:

Post a Comment