Gaming consoles are expensive – An Xbox One or PlayStation 4 could set you back $400. But how long will they be supported?
The previous generation of gaming consoles have had an impressive run, surviving longer than any previous generation of gaming consoles before. Microsoft made it clear when the Xbox 360 was revealed that it intended for the console to have a ten year lifespan, but the same has not been clearly stated for the Xbox One, according to IGN. The Xbox 360 has lived up to this promise, serving as the flagship console for Microsoft for 8 years before the release of the Xbox One console, and games are still be released for the 360.
Will the Xbox One and PS4 last as long as the previous generation of consoles? Here’s a look at some of the reasons that we may see the future of gaming sooner than you may expect:
A Matter of Power
The PS4 is the most powerful of consoles; the Playstation 4’s custom-designed AMD APU hardware is built with 8GB GDDR5 memory, according to PC World. Despite this, the PS4’s hardware pales in comparison to modern PC developments, using an outdated mechanical hard drive while most PCs have shifted to much faster solid-state hard drives. PCs continue to grow and develop at a lightning pace, and consoles are struggling to remain competitive in a market that is often ruled by the fastest graphics card.
This wasn’t always the case, and at one point the Xbox was the top-of-the-line gaming device, even compared to desktop computers. The Xbox 360 had a GPU that was not only the most powerful on the gaming console market, it was more powerful than many gaming desktop GPUs of the time. Today, consoles are lagging and this could lead developers to push forward their product cycle time-lines to keep up with consumer demands. With the huge gap in processing power between the Wii U’s and the Xbox One / PS4, it very well may be Nintendo who initiates this push in an attempt to climb back to the top of the gaming console market.
Technical factors may push the next generation of consoles to be developed more quickly than we may have expected. One of these developments is optical computing that utilizes light instead of electricity, consumes very little power, and can perform hundreds of thousands of processes at the speed of light. While it hasn’t reached consumer desktops yet, ExtremeTech reports UK technology firm Optalysys is planning to release their first optical computer in 2015. With such an enormous advance in processing technology, it seems inevitable that console developers will need to completely rethink their hardware to remain competitive with the next generation of personal computers.
Additionally, consumers are beginning to grow interested in 4K televisions, which have resolutions nearly 4 times as detailed as even the highest grade HD television; According to TechRader, a standard HD screen is 1080 pixels high and 1920 pixels wide, but 4K televisions approximately double these numbers which yields 4 times as many pixels onscreen. When it comes to graphical clarity and detail, pixels matter. As 4K televisions drop in price and more consumers begin to purchase them, gamers will begin to demand graphics that take full advantage of this powerful new technology.