I’m not really too surprised at rumours of a new console generation in 2018. It makes sense to me now that I think about it. The current generation is good, sure; but we’re already hearing about the current hardware struggling to offer true 4K game, even the recently-announced PS4 Pro, which is, let’s be honest, really just a stop-gap solution.
Games will still have to be designed to be fully compatible with the standard PS4 and its slim design, and while the graphical power will scale pretty well for the most part, there will of course be issues with RAM and CPU power. The PS4 Pro will have more of that, and developers will want to be able to use all of the additional power, but they will be limited by needing to make sure it still runs on the standard hardware.
Sure, developer could make a “PS4 Pro Only” title, but it would be like making a game for the original Kinect or PS2 Eye Toy: you’re just limiting the market, and with a AAA game with a big budget, that can’t be good.
Traditionally, Sony has always made slim consoles roughly two years before the real end of a console’s lifespan. It kind of happened with the PSOne (the PS1 and PS2 had overlapping titles for years), however it can definitely be said for the PS2 Slim and at least one of the slimmer PS3/360 models. Even if it does feel too soon, let’s face it; the 7th generation of the PS3, Wii and Xbox 360 had a rather long life of seven-year lifespan, which is much longer than the PS2 and PS1 before their successors were released.
The Pro is only an addition to the model of slim philosophy of “downsize and then charge less when the technology get better”, the difference this time being that they’re not just selling a cheaper console to potentially tempt new buyers, but also an improved console to existing customers to really upgrade to.
A new console in two years’ time is definitely possible from a technical standpoint. Both the Xbox One and PS4 use AMD based x86 (well, x64), which is the same as many modern PCs, more or less. AMD is having a good year, with a new slew of graphics technologies and more importantly the AM4 platform to replace the well-aged AM3+ platform, which debuted almost five years ago in late 2011, two years before the current generation of consoles came out. It has had only minor revisions since then.
To put that in perspective, Intel releases a new CPU family every year, bringing more processing power, reductions in electricity consumption, and a new socket platform.
When you put the pieces together, 2018 is enough in the future to give the current generation a long enough lifespan of five years, and certainly enough time to develop a new system (as if development isn’t already in the works). I believe we’re not too far away from the generation starting to stagnate, and for development to start lagging behind PC capabilities even more.
Oh, and as for the Nintendo NX? Well, the Wii U came out a year before the PS4 and Xbox One, which begs the question: Was it a poor move not to release in the same year? That’s question for another time, but what we do know is that the NX will be released sometime in 2017.
What are your thoughts? Do you think Sony should release the PS5 in 2018?