If your friends are like mine, you have had a conversation or two about what the next generation of gaming consoles will look like. Well, you can tell your friends the good news; with the recent announcement of the Nintendo’s WiiU, the eighth generation of consoles are right around the corner, perhaps even ready for Christmas! Still, one console does not a “generation” make… so where are all of the consoles?
We were given a hint about what the new generation of consoles might look like with OnLive – the online, steaming game service – which hosts all of the expensive hardware offsite and charges users a monthly fee for access. I tried the service myself but the the poor steaming quality and lag were a deal breaker for me (though not Onlive’s fault. At the time my internet pipe was shared with the local university). Additionally, OnLive’s recent business problems may indicate that cloud-based-gaming may have to wait until mainstream internet technology matures.
So if a purely cloud-based gaming environment won’t define the eighth generation of consoles, perhaps an amalgamation of technologies will. Whereas the previous generation of consoles have been all about raw, processing power, the next gen will be a combination of computing power and internet streaming. Recently, an independent console company crowd-funded a little console called Ouya. Ouya is an android-based console that promises to incorporate online game streaming through partnerships with Square Enix and XBMC. The hardware is nothing to sneeze at either, a quad-core ARM CPU, NVidia GPU, 8 Gigs of RAM. All for $99. As the second most funded product on Kickstarter, interest is high and just like any good idea, the clones are a’coming!
There have been rumours that Valve – the company behind cloud based game seller Steam, are building their own “Steambox”. President of Valve, Gabe Newell recently spoke with the Penny Arcade Report:
“Well, if we have to sell hardware, we will… we need to continue to have innovation and if the only way to get these kind of projects started is by us going and developing and selling the hardware directly then that’s what we’ll do”. – Gabe Newell
Gabe is acknowledging the overall lack of willpower in the industry to push innovation and if no one else is going to take the reins, Valve will.
Heck, even the PC market hasn’t seen any real innovation since the keyboard and mouse! Granted, it’s a shaky economy out there and companies like Microsoft and Sony are in hyper risk-aversion mode. It may be in their best interests to emulate the Ouya model and crowd source their own consoles. If they want to test something risky but cool and revolutionary, perhaps they should send a prototype to Kickstarter and let the gamers put up their own money to get it off the ground.
Using this model, the gaming possibilities are endless and – as a gamer – you now have the means of shaping what your next gaming console will be!
Just remember my fellow gamers; no matter what console you game on, if you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!