Next-gen consoles predictions?

It seems the current generation of consoles might last longer than ever before, the 360 because of the Kinect, the PS3 because of 3D and Blu-ray support and the Wii because it has a ludicrous user base

Nonetheless, The 3 companies must be pretty far along the development of their next hardware. I think now is a good time to lay down our predictions for the next round of machines before any information is actually known. Let’s see who comes closest to the mark.

I’ll start:


The ATI GPU in the 360 proved to be an excellent choice. I think Microsoft will stick with them. We can probably expect a derivative of their 58XX series with 1 GB of Video Ram optimized for a 1920x1080 resolution. 3DTV compatible (I expect games running in 3DTV mode will run at 30 FPS instead of 60).

I expect a “Kinect 2” to be included with lower latency which will make it more compelling and precise. Perhaps gloves will be added to give the system knowledge of what the fingers are doing, for better controls.

Internal HD.

Maybe a switch from IBM powerPC to Intel.

A valid alternative to xbox live and PSN will probably be a priority.

HD graphics.

No idea what craziness Nintendo will come up with.

I predict a switch to pay-to-play model for PSN, with monthly or annual fees, a la xbox live.

Will Sony stick with the cell processor? Maybe if the SPUs have more local memory (say 1 MB instead of 256KB) they would be more useful. If so, I predict 15 SPUs with 3 reserved for the OS, to bring the total useful for gaming to 12.

Beefed up eye-toy to compete with the Kinect.

The problem with that is that people would presumably go out and buy a Wii HD and not, say, an Xbox 720. Outside of the price point, why would they? If Nintendo is making their online component like Microsoft’s, why not just cut out the middle man if those are the things you’re after?

Another way of saying it is that I think too many people that have the current Wii would never upgrade to a Wii HD. If the price of the Xbox 720 were on par with the Wii HD, it could be interesting, but I don’t see that happening.

I think that you won’t even see a 58xx class GPU on the next consoles.

If you think Sony and MS weren’t ogling what Nintendo did this gen, you’re crazy.

I think they’re going to go for a MUCH shorter term before profitability on the hardware. I think they’re going to try and remove the resale/rental issue they are always so eager to harp on as well.

I’m thinking they’ll go with a CPGPU setup, Either something derived from Intel’s sandybridge tech or Whatever Nvidia/AMD’s solution is going to be.

It’ll be a small step up from what the current gen of consoles can do. DX 11 and more VRAM so some definite improvements in graphics quality, possibly you’ll see more games at 1080p 60 fps, but I think 720p at 30 fps is here for the long run in the case of consoles.

This allows them to build cheaper, smaller hardware. The cooling requirements of a 5800 class GPU is considerable. Even when going to a smaller manufacturing process.

Expect a lot more direct downloads a la Steam available. Maybe even every new title available for download. Given the Sony fiasco, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more heavy handed DRM as well, and more hoops to jump through if you want to sell/trade your games. Missing out on content, or even a straight up inability to do so.

We might also start to see more cross platform gaming. Sony is starting to integrate some of Steam’s technology for example, and we know Portal 2 will play cross platform with the PC.

I wonder if Microsoft will resurrect HD DVD in their next-gen console. That could cut down on pirating as blank HD DVDs aren’t widely available for the general public.

Pirating is largely dead on the 360, at least, it is so long as you never plug an ethernet cable into your machine.

Edited to add: At least, I rarely see any hacking, modding, or shenanigans online, which is all I really care about.

They all have to be keeping a close watch on OnLive and see what they can learn/incorporate from it.

Pirating on the 360 is far from dead. My friend told me.

Right, but you can (seldom) take that pirating/hacking to the multiplayer realm. I know of someone that pirates games and uses them as demos. If he plays a game he likes, he buys it.

This will never happen. Any company that cuts off resales/rentals has effectively killed the new platform before it even launches. Executives may talk about as a goal worth striving for, but it’ll never happen as long as discs remain the majority of console games.

And digital downloads are still far away from being the majority of all console purchases, there are just too many obstacles now that have almost no way of being overcome in the next ten years.

Not sure about the hardware, but

What about the achievements on the 360, will they carry on to the 720? I think that Microsoft has to be really careful about those, if the new console makes all previously
earned Gspots null and void they might have a hard core revolt on their hands…

Cloud storage, if I logon on my girls xbox, let me acces my save games from the web.

Next to friend lists, what about the ability to join guilds, not as close as friends but people you know you share the same game styles.
of course all this can be done on this generation aswel

Because of input lag and bandwidth-related video degradation issues, the internet is not ready for OnLive, no matter how many ISP partnerships they land. Portions of the internet might be ready, however. I’m thinking of Japan and South Korea.

Onlive no doubt wants to partner up with console makers to make the next generation machines easily virtualizable. I wouldn’t put it past Microsoft to purchase Onlive or mimic them. They could sell it as an additional perk for xbox-live subscribers. Everybody loves recurrent revenue.

20 or 30 years from now, if everybody is fibered up and everything is IPV6 addressable and port configuration is a thing of the past, I expect something similar to onlive to provide a brutal graphic experience equivalent to movie CGI today and compete successfully with consoles. It’s all about balancing the local machine performance and the remote machine performance and splitting tasks between both to minimize lag impact. It’s a fascinating prospect!

Gameplay depending on player input will be run locally while pseudo-static backgrounds, neat particle and other physics-based effects used to pretty up the scenery can be rendered remotely and streamed like a movie.

Really, 10 years before digital download hits 50% of sales? Maybe practically (in that parents will continue to buy discs at stores as gifts, because people like giving physical things and want to monitor game consumption) - but I don’t think the obstacles to that are all that hard to overcome. Has Sony put out their sales from their full-game digital downloads (like Mass Effect 2, Assassin’s Creed 2, Borderlands, etc.)?

You’re looking at from a PC gamer’s standpoint. There, full game downloading is possible due to compressed installer files and multitasking ability. Neither of those things are really possible on a console. So downloading a massive 5-20 GB game is a huge obstacle. And console games will only get bigger when we move into the next generation.

And remember, console gamers are addicted to the “trade-in/get a new game” mentality that PC gamers never experienced. That will keep digital downloads away for a good long while.

I don’t think we’re going to see a new generation of consoles for quite some time. The cost is just too high, and the benefits too incremental for any hardware that’s currently in the pipeline.

Once a game box can provide good framerates at 720p or 1080p, there’s just not a lot of room for big improvement. Sure DX11 has some nice features, but it’s still just an incremental improvement from where things were. Not enough to warrant a massive, multi-billion dollar effort.

I think the big improvements to gameplay needed right now are user interface and networking changes. We need to move to lower-latency network infrastructure to enable real-time audio and video - that will be the next breakthrough in gaming. I can imagine a game like Rock band where people can actually hear your voice when you’re singing, and with Kinect they can see you moving around on a virtual stage in real time. I can imagine using Kinect and avatars to create massively multiplayer worlds where everyone is moving around in their homes and their avatars are mimicking them right down to real-time facial expressions and lip motion that matches the audio.

Other than that, the only real improvements likely to show up that could require a change to the hardware in the Xbox would be 3D if it takes off in a big way.

My guess is that the next gen consoles are still in the early R&D phase, and we won’t see them in consumers’ hands for at least another three to five years. And I wouldn’t be surprised if we just get another round or two of freshening of the current boxes over the next five years, and next-gen stuff won’t show up for 5-10 years from now.


I agree with the overall sentiment of “not happening any time soon”.

Digital downloads won’t be the immediate future if only because it’s no fun to have to wait so long to play a game. PS3 games can be 20gigs or more, I can only imagine next gen games will be larger still. Even with broadband, that’s not a fun wait after you plunk down your money.

On the PC what you see some publishers do is allow you to pre-load the game. Some will give you up to a week leading to release to download the files, and the game then unlocks on the official release.

I don’t think digital will replace retail for consoles next gen, but I think it will be a non insignificant portion of sales.

There’s just so much more money to be made selling you a digital copy that they will try their best to get you to buy one.

The mistake here is in thinking that people want full immersion in their gaming. Yeah, everyone always says they want more immersion, but too much, and it stops being a game. If people actually wanted full immersion, they’d be outside with real baseball bats or tennis rackets, or on stage with real instruments, not in their living rooms with a Wiimote.

I don’t know about that. Social gaming is a little different than other games. And notice I said they’d use Avatars, and not images of themselves.

For example, the Xbox Live front end uses Avatars already, as do some of the games. Last year there was an experiment in social gaming with avatars - 1 vs 100, where there was a ‘mob’ consisting of real players, with their avatars standing in for them. The rest of the players were in a large audience. The game didn’t last, but I found the concept very intriguing. Unfortunately, the ability to do things with your avatar was limited to a few canned moves you could activate with the controller. Add in Kinect and real avatar movements, and you might be able to do some pretty compelling things.
I can certainly see the appeal of a new Xbox Live front-end

There was a clan list on the first Xbox, and some games utilized it, but Microsoft stopped support for it.