The Underwhelming Generation

When I was gearing up for the seventh generation consoles and Blu Ray, I bought a top of the line 1080p television in early 2007 to experience all the Playstation 3 and what the HD graphics of the Xbox 360 I already owned had to offer.

Before the seventh generation, I knew little to nothing about resolution. When the sixth generation consoles came, I was very impressed with the graphics of the Xbox, Gamecube, and Playstation 2. I couldn’t imagine how much better it could get. So I wanted to go full blast with the seventh generation in full high definition.

The quality of Blu Ray blew me away. It was worth it simply for that. And the games on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 looked spectacular. I knew it could get better, but I just couldn’t imagine back then what the eighth generation consoles would be like, but I assumed that if I were to see a glimpse of what 2015 would have to offer, I would be wholly impressed. I even thought that my television, even being top of the line in 2007, might need to be upgraded for the eighth.

Another thing that I assumed – being that many PS3 and 360 games were only around 720p – is that the games of the eight generation would be full 1080p at a minimum, no questions asked. I accepted that only a few games of the seventh generation offered full 1080p. And I also accepted that, because these consoles were touted as being incredibly powerful, not seeing the eighth generation start until at least 2015.

PS2 720p resolution (left) vs PS3 1080p resolution (right)

Final Fantasy X 2001 PS2 480p resolution (left) vs Final Fantasy X HD Remaster PS3 1080p resolution (right)

My friends and I wouldn’t have minded the wait because we were enjoying the seventh generation games. And we were PC gamers, too. On top of this, Sony kept hyping the superior power that was yet to be unlocked for the Playstation 3. That was a big reason why I thought that it would keep until this year. I thought to myself that maybe developers would be able to unlock the power of the PS3 early this decade, allowing for even more impressive graphics. And I thought that Microsoft would be the first to release its next console in 2014 or 2015 because Sony would still be able to ride on the supposed power of the PS3 for just a little long and then release its Playstation 4 in 2016.

Obviously, that didn’t happen. My expectations were deflated. If I was told back in the late 2000s that the new consoles would be released in 2013, I would have protested that idea because I considered it too early.

Perhaps I was right.

I don’t dislike the eighth generation consoles, but they did not at all live up to the grand expectations I had for them. The one expectation that should have been non-controversial is that the games would all be natively 1080p. Especially for the Xbox One, many games are not. And that is probably the biggest let-down, because it seems to be the minimum quality to ask for and expect in consoles released about eight years after Full HD televisions hit the market.

Sony and Microsoft released consoles that were far too underpowered for this era. 4K (2160p) televisions are already out with 4K Blu Rays on their way later this year. The current highest end PCs can run some games in that Ultra HD resolution, while it’s often heard that games on the Xbox One have trouble going above 900p.

On release, the consoles were not overly expensive, especially for all that they do offer ($400 US for the PS4 and $500 US for the Xbox One). The Playstation 3 was around $500 US, while the 3D0 was $700 US on release in 1993 (more than $1000 US in today’s currency).

Perhaps Sony and Microsoft could have waited a year and released relatively more powerful consoles at the same price points. And, considering the One was $100 US more than the PS4 because of the Kinect, it’s easy to imagine that the company could have instead focused on better hardware for the console and still stick to that price. On a side note, it’s a wonder why Microsoft tried to push for the Kinect even after the 360s version was not to well received.

Of course, those that consider themselves part of the “PC Gamer Master Race” might just argue that consoles are useless anyway when you have the freedom of upgrading your own PC. For people with the money, know-how, and patience, it’s a great alternative. But the good thing about consoles is that you can buy a platform for a decent price and not have to worry about all the different components with their specific drivers and compatibility issues. Consoles (for the most part, at least) are plug and play. You can go to the store and buy a game you like for your console and play it easily. Plus, many games are made to utilize the specific console’s hardware and play without issue. That’s the convenience of a console. And it’s especially convenient for kids.

If they really needed to release these consoles in 2013, it’s too bad that they didn’t take a cue from what Nintendo did back with their N64 and have a pending upgrade peripheral for when the consoles were at least a couple of years old. But, since I’m not a developer and don’t have to take the financial risk, I can assume and complain from comfort.

Also, speaking of Nintendo, at least they are finally making a “true” next generation console with the “NX.” They kept themselves a generation behind in performance with both the Wii and the Wii U. Although I have nothing against the Wii U, I think it’s about time Nintendo catches up.

Overall, I just hope that the hardware developers are financially sound enough to have the next generation of consoles, whenever they are released, live up to reasonable expectations.

Graham McCann
Ever since he found his mom's Atari 2600 under the TV when he was about four years old, the rest of his life was connected to gaming. His family got their first computer when he was five years old in 1991 - a 286, which was powerful enough to play Wolfenstein 3D and the Hugo adventure game series. He got a Sega Genesis when he was eight, a Pentium 120 when he was nine, a Nintendo 64 when he turned 10, and a Playstation for Christmas when he was 12. A few years after that, he was able to make money and buy games for himself. So, his collection grew and hasn't stopped. When he was 12, he decided that he wanted to be a video-game journalist because he had a subscription to Gamepro Magazine. He eventually went to journalism school, then television broadcasting school, worked for a few years in the news industry, and now here he is with FGE. Graham looks forward to what the future has to bring and he is dedicated to being a part of this awesome gaming industry.
  • Poor PS Poor people

    Such greatness, such next gen. All lies and overhype that underdelivers.

  • Gaming for Everyone

    This sounds very biased. You are obv a PC gamer and clearly show it in this article. Console gaming is the best it has ever been, and as we push foward it can only get better. Console gaming has one thing over Pc and its exclusives, never will a pc gamer be able to play The Last of Us or Halo on their high end PC. Games like thus is why consoles hold their ownagainst pc. Plus not everyone can afford a PC, this doesnt mean their kids, it just the fact PC could go thousands of dollars just to upgrade the visuals, if your anything like me the gameplay is more important than the graphics and this is why this generation of consoles live up to the hype IMO.

  • Graham

    No, I’m not an exclusive PC gamer. I love both PC and consoles. My intent was not bias toward PC, but instead show the disappointment for how underpowered the consoles are because I really like consoles. I am really enjoying my Playstation 4 and I love many of its exclusives – The Last of Us being one of my favorite. I have a Wii U and will buy an Xbox One when there are more exclusives I like for it.

  • Graham

    I guess it came from being prepared to wait until this year for them to start coming out and not expecting how early they actually did come out.

  • Jim Peterson

    What are you, five years old?

  • Jim Peterson

    I strongly disagree. Have you gone back and played last gen games since this gen started? Because Ive been playing a few lately, games that were amazing in their time when last gen was peaking, like Uncharted 2 and Assassins Creed 2 and having been exclusively playing PS4 and PC games for the past year, I was really taken back at how bad they looked. The muddy, low res textures, the draw distance etc. It really surprised me bad they looked after becoming accustomed to current gen games. Not to mention the terrible load times, slow UI etc.

    As far as the power of the systems go, while personally I would have been happy to have paid an extra $100 for a beefier GPU and CPU that would have ensured all games would have been 1080p60fps, the consoles as they are are still incredibly powerful gaming systems that are suffering from the out of control resource hogging games with diminishing returns that has become the norm. Last year I built a $2000 gaming PC. Its great sure, its nice to run everything maxed out at 60fps but honestly we arent talking a huge difference from what a $1000 PC or PS4 graphics look like. Ive been playing GTA V on ultra settings and while yeah, its definitely the best version, its really not all that much different than the experience of having played it on the PS4, a system that costs less than a quarter of what my PC did. I switch between the PC version and PS4 version (to play with friends) and barely notice the change. Which makes me ask, if maxing out a $2000 PC (which GTA V did to my PC) really only gives a small improvement over a the experience on a $400 console, than would have been making them more powerful really have made all that much difference? It seems to me the real problem is the software. Crazily increasing minimum specs with only slight graphics improvements.

    And honestly some of the best looking games Ive played this gen have been on the Wii U. Theres no doubt that the PS4 and Xbox One could deliver incredible looking games, they just need to go back to the drawing board when it comes to game design. Because this “buy a new $500 GPU to get slightly better lighting effects and an extra 10fps” gaming model is really getting old. Time the focus went to

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