Next Gen is Terrifying?

I don’t think Naugty Dog has anything to worry about. Next gen will be less about a graphical leap than ever before. Sure, the hardware will be much better, but the initial graphical leap in game tech and art will be imperceptible next to current PC games like Battlefield 3.

So what’s the selling point? Certainly Sony can’t put out a $900 PS4 and expect anybody to buy it on the back of “MOAR GRAPHICS.”

Next Gen will be defined by the declining retail market more than anything else. MS/Apple/Sony understand that they are making a platform for digital content delivery, not just big AAA games, but also small XBLA games, free to play games, social games, but potentially more importantly: TV and Movies. A new way of interacting with your tv and games, that’s the selling point.

Apple is doing this which means MS and Sony need to strike preemptively or be disrupted. Believe it or not, there are lots of people that would happily never own another “game box” if their TV played Wii Sports and Just Dance. The PS2/Wii era market penetration is the realm of iTV.

I work on AAA games so please don’t remind me that AAA blockbusters aren’t going away. I know, I know. I like those games too. Yes, we will always have them and they will get more uber in the future. It’s great.

But that’s not the highest end of the market. The highest end is $100/month TV & Movie subscriptions that people currently pay to the likes of Comcast and Verizon. The highest end of the games market is not even Mondern Warfare 3’s Billion Dollars, it’s WoW’s Several Billion Dollars.

The next gen is about making and owning the living room software & services platform. Look at how well Apple and Google have done on the backs of iOS and Android. Everybody wants to do that in the living room. The competition is not between Xbox 720 and PS4, the competition is between:

– iTV
– Xbox Live
– PSN
– Google TV
– Steam (which is remarkably well positioned to be relevant in the living room)

Platforms. That is what matters and is what will define the next gen. The level of uncertainty around the future of those platforms is far more terrifying to me than “how much RAM will the box have?”

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