Forums - Gaming Discussion - Next-Gen (2018) will be digital only, online required, streaming entertainment boxes.

A year ago I said this gen will even the field and entertainment/media will be equally as important as games are on the consoles.

Since then Nintendo has a console with dramatically better digital space, great browser and apps for all the primary web-based internet entertainment as well as the promise of more apps coming. Along with a tied-in social network and a clear pursuit of digital sales. Considering Nintendo is a gaming company first, its obvious this takes time for them to build and they're still reeling from slower than expected sales and major OS fixes (mostly fixed in Spring, but some new ones coming still).

Sony has introduced a powerful gaming console that at this point hasn't focused much on its non-gaming aspects, but that is clearly more to do with marketing and being competitively different than MS than anything the device will or will not do. Looking at Vita/PS3 and combining that with what we have seen on PS4 UI/Sharing/PSN+; its obvious Sony is greatly expanding its non-gaming aspects. It will easily surpass Nintendo in built-in apps and likely have a similar browser as PS3 used the same company (though an older variant) as Nintendo's WiiU. Finally, Sony has a lot to gain by expanding their streaming capabilities since they offer a lot of hardware beyond Playstations.

Then we come to the Xbox One. Clearly MS is positioning this as a full entertainment device and not a "game console". MS is taking the more direct approach and even advertised its media functionality first and foremost over its very good selection of games shown later.

How about the similarities in each? All three have a robust online shop that will dramatically push digital games over what was done last-gen. All three will offer seemingly open-ended storage options for consumers. All three have all of the major access for web-enabled video/music streaming. In fact the only major difference is Nintendo's lack of physical media playback (non-gaming), but that is really because Nintendo refuses to pay for licensing and next-gen digital only base will make that feature obsolete.

So that brings us to next-gen. To me these are clear steps in one direction, especially for Microsoft. Next gen will be digital only devices with strong options for streaming high-quality gaming and other full entertainment.

First let's discuss the internet bandwidth issue as that's really the only bottleneck. Its rapidly expanding to be a point of no concern. Services like Google's Fiber are growing fast throughout the world and in 5 years time there will be a large segment of the world that will be connected in high bandwidth scenario's. Additionally, wireless is moving at a fast rate and in 5 years time LTE will also be approaching the 100Gb range which would be most beneficial to poorer nations as its cheaper to put out cellular than fiber lines. This also means a whole new way to play for portables.

Nintendo is the most behind in this scenario as they have no experience in this. But I'm sure we'll see samplings as this gen moves on and Nintendo realizes they need this capability. This is also hinted at in their move to combine their portable and home console divisions. Their next console is likely to be both a portable and home console and along with the limitation on storage when portable, Nintendo will want to implement streaming options. With the rise in wireless bandwidth, it make this portable+home console idea with streaming a fantastic option for them. Especially considering that unlike MS/Sony/Apple/Google, they don't build PCs/tablets/phones/etc... just game consoles.

Sony is already building this and will have it in place soon for many of their offerings and especially older titles. This is exactly why they bought Gaikai. They also have a huge stake in music/movies and PS4 will have an unlimited usage option for both categories. Additionally, Vita is already positioning itself for similar features. I really shouldn't have to explain this for Sony as the systems are already in place, in their infancy and will only grow. The only possible exception for Sony is their desire to launch truly global. But in 5 to 7 years I'd think that even most of those areas will have greatly improved wireless technology. So Sony might feel less hampered and more willing to put in place online requirements.

Microsoft will have this same tech as Sony this gen and they've already created an online requirement. I'd even wager that Xbox One will be this device before the launch of its successor. In my opinion, MS successor will come in 5 years and will be a simple redesign of Xbone in a similar fashion as phones/tablets change as they move their entire ecosystem to digital only. This is MS's end goal. Think about it. If everything is digital and they can stream content in high quality, then there is no need to care what the hardware is. It could be your Windows Phone, Windows tablet, Windows PC, Windows Xbox... it doesn't matter. Its all Windows which is the entire point to them. It'll have their yearly OS with $50 upgrades and access to plethora of applications/games/media via there store.

MS will get here first with Sony there at their heels and Nintendo playing catch up as they learn the competencies to play in this new game.

2018 will be interesting.



Around the Network

I highly doubt Nintendo will go digital only.

They operate like a toy company. They want to put physical things in people's hands to mess around with. It's one thing to embrace digital, another thing for Nintendo to go digital only.

But then again kids that are 4-5 nowadays sure have no problem buying things off the app store.

I can see MS and Sony doing this though.



 Nintendopie  Was obviously right and I was obviously wrong. I will forever be a lesser being than them. (6/16/13)

But next gen won't be digital only, both PS4 and Xbone will offer games delivered on physical retail discs.

Otakumegane said:

I highly doubt Nintendo will go digital only.

They operate like a toy company. They want to put physical things in people's hands to mess around with. It's one thing to embrace digital, another thing for Nintendo to go digital only.

But then again kids that are 4-5 nowadays sure have no problem buying things off the app store.

I can see MS and Sony doing this though.

Nintendo is definitely my hardest sale. However, I think they are setting people up for that now. They have focused a lot on their eShop, NintendoNeworkID (single ID for all) and tons of deals/sales/marketing to the eShop.

I'm sure that in 5 years their base will be accustomed to digital only and largely accept it. Also, it doesn't mean a new console wouldn't come preloaded with a game or two to have that instant gratification. Plus, with tech increases, the wait time for a game to kick off should be minimal. See how MSony have been advertising that instant play while installing feature now. Even WiiU installs in background while playing now.



Slimebeast said:
But next gen won't be digital only, both PS4 and Xbone will offer games delivered on physical retail discs.

They are coming out now. I'm calling them current-gen at this point and last gen is PS360. Thus next-gen has yet to be defined.

However, I know this was a joke post, just clarifying for anyone else.



Around the Network
superchunk said:
Slimebeast said:
But next gen won't be digital only, both PS4 and Xbone will offer games delivered on physical retail discs.

They are coming out now. I'm calling them current-gen at this point and last gen is PS360. Thus next-gen has yet to be defined.

However, I know this was a joke post, just clarifying for anyone else.

Good catch.

Anyway, it's cool that you're already thinking of the next gen (or should I say next next gen). I don't think anyone else is.

But, why do you think both MS and Sony will come with another console after Xbone/PS4? Most analists believe this is the last console generation.

Also, if there really is another hardware gen from 2018 and beyond, do you really think MS will be there? Xbone is in big trouble. To me this is the beginning of the end for MS in the console business.

Maybe Apple will be there.

EDIT: and maybe Nintendo will not. Maybe they are software only after Wii U.



Do you really think MS and Sony can afford to reboot consoles and release "next gen" after this next gen? Apple and Android will kill them if they do that in 7-8 years. I am not saying we won't see new hardware, but I don't see it defined by generations. We could have yearly hardware cycles for consoles with updated specs like we do on the smartphone side or we could have these single consoles for the next 20 years...

I really don't see this gen being replaced by a fresh slate of brand new hardware and software running it that can be referred to as "next gen"...ever. At least not on the Microsoft side...



Slimebeast said:
But next gen won't be digital only, both PS4 and Xbone will offer games delivered on physical retail discs.

Or, offer download codes as they do now.  They need to find ways to keep retailers involved somehow, or retailers will be less inclined to carry their systems.  



Slimebeast said:

Good catch.

Anyway, it's cool that you're already thinking of the next gen (or should I say next next gen). I don't think anyone else is.

But, why do you think both MS and Sony will come with another console after Xbone/PS4? Most analists believe this is the last console generation.

Also, if there really is another hardware gen from 2018 and beyond, do you really think MS will be there? Xbone is in big trouble. To me this is the beginning of the end for MS in the console business.

Maybe Apple will be there.

EDIT: and maybe Nintendo will not. Maybe they are software only after Wii U.

I think you're hitting my point.

This is the last semi-normal game console generation. So the analysts are sort of right on that.

However, these companies need hardware to make money on their software. Especially Nintendo.

So the next hardware will more than likely go towards a further step in less overall spec differences than what is coming out now and instead focus more on the back-end cloud offerings. MSony are clearly setting this up. Nintendo is more in an infancy of this as they have more to learn to do it. But they are going to have to do it as well otherwise go software only. Frankly Nintendo requires its hardware as much as it does its software. So that is not an option.

MS has stated they want to push more into hardware in general. The surface tablets and Xbox tv device is just the beginning. It will continue with iterations that are closer together.

MS will undoubtedly feel pain early on with Xbone. But as the price drops and services explode, it could be very good for them. Its not helping that winphone and win8 are not doing well as their design really needs them all doing well to truly succeed.

Sony is going to grow their OS to add any missing tv based services MS has, unless MS has some exclusivity agreement. But that is not likely as it goes in the face of what Comcast is doing on their own anyways with their "X1" device. Plus, I've argued it for awhile, but this year Apple and Google will increase their presence on TVs with their own devices. I actually expected them at their respective conferences recently, but I still think they are coming. Notice neither showed a new phone/tablet either.

This gen will be a transitional one. This hardware/software will be upgraded to fit these ideals and in the end they will be pretty much all digital entertainment devices. Nintendo being the exception that it will take one more hardware cycle to reach that same point while the other two just put out new hardware simply to drive sales, not necessarily create a "new generation of game consoles". Same way Apple works with its devices. Just it won't be yearly. I'm actually expecting about every 3 years once it fully kicks off in say 2018 or 2019.



Around the Network
I expect physical and digital to co-exist in the generation after PS4, Wii U and Xbox One and there is no way that generation will be in 2018, more like 2020-2022. But i don't even want to think that far ahead for gaming

PS3, Vita, 3DS and Wii U. 

PS4 eventually.