What Can We Expect From the Next Generation of Consoles?

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With Microsoft’s Scarlett announced at this year’s E3 and reveals about Sony’s next console now doing the rounds, we’re quickly approaching the next generation of video game consoles.

Just as with former generational leaps, this raises questions as to what we can expect, and what might these be capable of over the current selection of devices.

Game Streaming

While this isn’t exactly a lock-in at this point, indications are that game streaming like that of Google Stadia will also be playing a bigger part in next-gen consoles. Microsoft announced this with Scarlett, and Sony already has such a feature with their PS Now line of games.

 

The questions we have here relate exactly to how integration will work. Is this going to be a separate service, or will it be more closely tied to existing online infrastructure?

To better illustrate this issue, we could use the related example of online casino games. While not streamed in strictly the same manner, games from the services listed on Casino Wings tend to run across both mobiles and desktops without issue. These services also offer bonuses like free spins to entice players, which raises the question of how consoles might similarly raise the bar?

Will game streaming require an additional fee alongside existing online gaming memberships, or will it run across all devices with a base membership and the purchase of a digital or physical game?

Solid State Advantages

So far stated for the next generation Sony console is the inclusion of a solid-state hard drive as a default component. This would replace the older style hard drives of the current-gen of consoles with a much faster alternative.

For the end-user, this means an enormous decrease in load times, as Sony showed with this leaked example with a current-gen game, Spider-Man:

 

Gaining advantages from these systems means that larger amounts of game data will have to be saved to the hard drive instead of running off of the disc. This does present concerns about the total quantity of games which will be able to be installed on a system at one time. Games are getting bigger, after all, and while solid-state drives have dropped massively in price recently, they still have a smaller capacity and are more expensive than the traditional option.

Backwards Compatibility

For old-school gamers, it is the announcement of backwards compatibility which has many of us salivating. Consoles have sometimes dabbled in this technology, but it has been rather hit or miss up until this point. That said, Microsoft and Sony have both claimed that their new consoles will take the importance of backwards compatibility on board.

This means playing games from previous gens without the need to plug in older consoles, though exactly how far back this compatibility will reach remains to be seen. Sony especially could be problematic here, as their unique PS3 generation of hardware has proven difficult to emulate.

When and How Much?

The current trajectory has these next-generation consoles slated for release sometime in 2020. As for their price points, that remains open for speculation. What is probable is that they will introduce multiple different models, with larger hard drives and more pack-ins such as games being a likely inclusion for the more expensive variants.

We would also expect a potential update to the base consoles a few years down the line, as we did with One X and PS4 Pro. Whatever the case, those looking to upgrade should start saving now, lest they find themselves left behind when these eventually hit shelves.

Tech Digest Correspondent