It is the beginning of the end for the eighth generation of video game consoles. There is no need to rush to your useful VoIP handsets and make calls to the major hardware makers. This is simply the way the business model works. The current generation has enjoyed a fruitful eight years. This holiday season, people are expecting the successors to Sony’s Playstation 4 and Microsoft’s XBox One to drop, thereby officially ushering in the ninth generation. Nintendo will continue to march to its own drummer, as there are no signs yet of when they will launch the successor to their highly-successful hybrid, the Switch.
Excitement is now building up, as the new generation will be bringing along with it new trends in home console technology.
A Look Back at the Eighth Generation
The outgoing generation had introduced trends that are now considered as the norm. It has embraced the social media culture, and this is apparent in the dedicated sharing button seen on the XBox One, Playstation 4, and even the Switch. This will allow the user to either take a screenshot or record a video that they can upload later to a linked social media account.
In terms of hardware, this is the era where Sony and Microsoft went for the x86 architecture. This means that the PS4 and XBox One game development share a lot in common with how PC games are made. The decision to go this route was to have developers churn out games as soon as the consoles went out of the gate. It used to be that new consoles mean new dedicated hardware that the devs had to learn before they can harness the machine’s full potential. A lot of them are well versed in programming for x86, so they can just carry that over to developing for the consoles.
Local File Streaming
One of the most touted features of the upcoming consoles, the Playstation 5 and XBox Series X, is their use of solid-state drives. They are several times faster than what is on the current-gen, which still use 2.5-inch platter hard drives. What does this mean for game performance? Game data can be loaded and offloaded from RAM to the hard drive, which would result in long load times. Since SSDs are very fast at seeking and writing data, it can work with RAM much more efficiently. The dumping and offloading process will become much quicker. It will basically be like streaming data straight off the SSD seamlessly.
Expect for the upcoming consoles to be capable of displaying video in 8K. Do not confuse this with its ability to play games, as even the top video cards of today still struggle doing 4K at high frame rates. The new machines will be a sort of Trojan horse where they can target those who are more interested in 8K video in the hopes that they develop an interest in playing some video games.
Native Backward Compatibility
There have been systems before that offered backward compatibility, but they had a special way of implementing that. The Playstation 2 had embedded its predecessor’s hardware into its motherboard, and that is why you can play PS1 games on it. Microsoft used emulation so their XBox 360 could play some of the games released for the original XBox.
Since the upcoming gen will once again be based on x86 architecture, this means that you could see more native implementation of backward compatibility. Think about it as making a PC upgrade. You have improved hardware, but your games could adjust and scale up to whatever power is available to it. They do not have to re-write code in order to work with the new stuff.
It has been reported that 2K Games will be offering their upcoming NBA 2K20 on the next-gen systems for $70. While other companies announced anything yet, it is a safe bet that you will see others follow suit. Game development costs have gone up over the years, but game prices have been stuck at $60. This could be the last generation where you see that price tag on certain titles. $70 might be the norm by its end.
New console launches are always a big deal. While it looks like there won’t be many available titles at launch, you should see things pick up in the following months after. Here’s hoping that the game developers continue to produce awesome games because that’s what it boils down to at the end of the day.