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The real reasons behind mid-gen refreshes

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Biggest reason for mid-gen refresh

4K tvs 55 24.66%
 
Have the most powerful console 18 8.07%
 
Competition with PC (Steam) 33 14.80%
 
Make money from double dipping 92 41.26%
 
No more generations going forth 13 5.83%
 
Other 12 5.38%
 
Total:223
SvennoJ said:

Generations are getting longer as diminishing returns make new gens look less of a big step than before.

This is the one part where I think you're on to something. Because the overall power of CPUs and GPUs has been increasing at an ever-slower rate over time, we're getting less improvement over time from each new generation. Sony & MS have to know this, so I've been getting the feeling that last generation was as long as it was on purpose. 4K TVs (and VR to a lesser extent) arriving on the market when they did was rather fortuitous, and I think these 4K upgraded versions of the PS4 & XBO are not only an attempt to take advantage of newer, higher-def displays, but also to help stretch this generation out. Whether or not that will work remains to be seen (and the Pro's effect on PS4 sales doesn't seem hopeful), but I'm thinking that Sony & MS are hoping to stretch this gen out to 2020 at least, though ultimately the console cycle is predicated entirely on sales.



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The whole electronics industry has changed. Consoles are no longer in an isolated corner of the market. They are squaring off against competition from every corner.

In the past the consoles was the most logical choice for DVD Playback, and streaming services. Now that front is uder attack from Smart TVs, Set Top Boxes, Cable Boxes, and Streaming Sticks that use a smartphone to grab media.

They are also not the only player in town for games on the TV anymore. Amazon Fire TV has games, not great, but games. Steam is becoming more possible on TV with small form factor PCs, and Steam link. There is also the Nvidia Sheild which can do both media, local games and streaming.

Non of these competitors sit on tech for 5, 6, or 7 years. There are revisions to all of the competitive devices on a yearly bases. They add better wireless connectivity, lower power consumption, the latest video and audio processing, faster CPU/GPU processing, more RAM, more Storage, and continually improve the user experience.

Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are moving to scalable generations because they have to. The New 3DS, PS4 Pro, and The Scorpio are a must for consoles to stay competitive with the massive competition they face on every front.

Beyond the above, there is also the fact that tech growth has slowed and we have reached the point of massive diminishing returns. The increase in technology over a 5 - 7 year period in no longer enough to justify a full generational change in the way games are made. In 2020 with 7nm tech, we will only be able to achive a leap in tech, that is equivalent to half of the leap we have seen in every generation since Sony entered the market. It won't be until ~2023 with 3nm fabrication that we will have a leap in tech from the PS4 and XBO that can justify a new generation, and cut from the PS4 and XBO hardware.

For all the reasons above I fully expect Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo to have yearly revisions of their hardware, with notable revisions every 2 - 4 year depending on how the fabrication process matures. I don't see them cutting ties and moving what could be considered a new generation any quicker than once every 10 years.

I fully expect one more revision to the PS4 and XBO platforms before the bar is rest. I expect to see mobile counterparts to both PlayStation and Xbox either under the brand or via Surface and Xperia. I expect to see Nintendo move to a yearly revision model that is almost identical to Phones, especially with their partenership with Nvidia, and the yearly improvements made to the Tegra processors.

This is not double dipping, it is not just about new TVs, nor is it about PS4 and XBO being to weak. It is about changed market, and trying to stay relevant. On the consumer side the choice is yours. Buy a PS or XB day one, and ride it out for 10 - 12 years, upgrade every 6 years, every 3 years, or every year.The great thing is, the choice is there for you to make.

Personally, I will be upgrading my PlayStation ecosystem every year, and will do the same with a Phone, Tablet/Laptop, and Handheld versions if they arrive. On the XB and Nin side, I will be getting the Switch and the Scorpio, and will upgrade again after either significant features are added, or a generational separation occurs. Thanks to this I will no longer be buying into Windows, iOS, or Android devices in the future.



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Make money from double dipping.

These companies can't afford anymore to spend $600 to make a console and sell it for $600 so the specs can hold up and in the hope that everything goes smooth until the next gen starts 6-8 years later. If a major disaster or crash happens during that time, and people can no longer afford the $600 console at launch, or $500 price drop years later, these companies end up in major financial trouble.

By selling a console around $400 at launch, and actually making a small profit, while they are still at risk, that risk is greatly minimized by the console being $400 instead of $600. That just means more money left in the companies bank for an emergency.

This also allows the companies to gain more profits overall, and allows them to sell another mid gen refresh, making even more money, due to the fact that the hardware becomes outdated faster now due to the cheaper launch price and lower specs. All because they are playing it safe. The fact that it used to be normal to build things to last and keep them for extended periods of time, yet today things are built to break, and people are expected to, and some like to, buy updated things more often, makes this type of console cycle easier to swallow.

The rest of the points all fall into place, and are all byproducts of this, but making money is always #1. I would say 4k tv's #2 and PC #3.



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It's a combination of all the above. But, doing these refreshes can cause problems in the future. You'll upgrade the hardware so often. To the point of everything being perfect. Consumers could stop buying faster. Because it became good enough. Yeah, 4K is perfect. I don't need anything else. Those graphics look the same. Why do I need this new thing? Diminishing returns will accelerate.



SegataSanshiro said:
It's not a new thing either. Turbo Duo. SEGA Wonder Mega. PS2 later models got a slight CPU speed increase. Game Boy went color. GBA SP added backlight. PSP 2000 had upgraded specs. New 3DS also upgraded specs from better CPU to more ram. PS4 Pro and Scorpio are the largest upgrades but still it's not a new practice.

Sure, but we have ps4 slim and XBox One S for that. The pro was practically launched next to the ps4 slim. The reason for the slim is to make money, the reason for the pro is to keep the core user happy.

I'm surprised double dipping is winning in the poll as the margins on the pro and the scorpio are likely very slim to maybe even non existent. That's a lot of R&D to make back while the systems themselves sell at close to production cost. The 360 Elites, ps3 slims, XBox One S are already serving the double dipping market. Pro and Scorpio will make some money, yet nothing compared to the much more juicy margins and sales numbers of their cost reduced siblings.

Captain_Yuri said:

I'd say its 4k TVs more so than PC. If they really wanted to compete with PC, they would have stuck to 1080p and choose a cpu that could do 60fps instead of this consistent move to 4k.

PC hasn't been about 4k gaming at all. The aren't even that many 4k monitors and the ones that are 4k aren't even that good with a few exceptions. Yet both Ps4 Pro and Scorpio has been spewing out 4k left and right... And 1080p enhancements for the Pro has been more or less been optional. Even sony's own games such as UC4 and the Last of Us Remastered bearly even does anything to enhance those games...

4K is the new buzzword and much easier to show off improvements. It's also much easier to render games in a higher resolution than go from 30 to 60 fps. Nothing is stopping devs from doing that on pro and scorpio, yet screenshots still rule. And exactly because 4K monitors aren't that mainstream yet, consoles have the unique opportunity to one up PCs at this point in time, especially with HDR. In a straight comparison consoles will always lose to PC.



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SvennoJ said:
Captain_Yuri said:

I'd say its 4k TVs more so than PC. If they really wanted to compete with PC, they would have stuck to 1080p and choose a cpu that could do 60fps instead of this consistent move to 4k.

PC hasn't been about 4k gaming at all. The aren't even that many 4k monitors and the ones that are 4k aren't even that good with a few exceptions. Yet both Ps4 Pro and Scorpio has been spewing out 4k left and right... And 1080p enhancements for the Pro has been more or less been optional. Even sony's own games such as UC4 and the Last of Us Remastered bearly even does anything to enhance those games...

4K is the new buzzword and much easier to show off improvements. It's also much easier to render games in a higher resolution than go from 30 to 60 fps. Nothing is stopping devs from doing that on pro and scorpio, yet screenshots still rule. And exactly because 4K monitors aren't that mainstream yet, consoles have the unique opportunity to one up PCs at this point in time, especially with HDR. In a straight comparison consoles will always lose to PC.

If you mean like price to price comparison, then of course. But still, I don't think they are competiting against PC. Even if we take away framerate, the enhancements isn't exactly there either at say 1080p and most certainly not at checkerboarding apart from resolution enhancements... The fact that Sony themselves are bearly even caring about visual enhancements at 1080p and more focused on just being able to checkerboard to 4k makes me doubt their main objective is to compete with PC and not 4k it up...

Oh and I am still waiting to see how Scorpio will handle enhancements before commenting on that.



             

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Other - consoles are low budget laptops now, not state of the art tech.
If Sony was like it was with PS3, we would see 4.2Tflop 599$ PS4 in 2013.



For Sony, an effort to sell their 4K TVs and their VR. Since VR needs twice the frames per second, it's obvious that the PS4 pro went with almost exactly twice the graphics power to execute this

For Microsoft on the other hand, it's more to keep up with their competition, both on the console market with the PS4 Pro and from Gaming PCs. While the latter is certainly also a reason for the PS4, it's probably far from being a focus point.

But to keep up with PCs is a botched attempt for both of them. The Jaguar was intended as an Ultra Low Power consumption chip and it clearly shows, as it's acting like a handbrake even on the base models already. It's limited amount of calculations it can output also means that 60fps would be too overwhelming for it most of the time as the CPU would also need to make twice as much calculations per second. The RAM hasn't been expended much or at all, which excludes higher detail and higher resolution textures than the base model. In other words, the upgraded hardware can't run faster or have shinier graphics than the base models, solely having to rely on higher resolutions to make a difference. Which is probably why Sony insisted that without a 4K TV you would be better off with the base model before the release of the Pro.

For both of them it is a double-edged sword. When PS5 and Xbox TWO (or whatever it will be called) roll out, will you buy them - or will you wait for the upgraded versions to come out? There will probably be quite a few who will hold back to wait for the better version, cutting off the initial sales of their next console. This as also happened before: The Megadrive/Genesis got both a CD and then the 32X upgrades before the Saturn rolled out. But people where vary about the upgrades and hold back on buying the saturn until they saw this was really their next machine and it's there to stay - at which point it was already miles behind the concurrence.

Nintendo is also hit by this. The 3DS got also a mid-term upgrade, just like the DS got with the DSi. The Switch will most probably follow that same route too. But on a handheld system, this seems to be more accepted, maybe because of the concurrence to the smartphones.

A big question in all those upgrades is if they will ever drop the support of the base model? Even though a handful of 3DS games are exclusive to the New 3DS, support of the base model never stopped totally. However, trying to play a recent 3DS game on a base 3DS is often rather painful. It runs, but with all kinds of issues. I fully expect this to happen to PS4 and Xbox ONE too in the future.



LurkerJ said:
You are right, of course. PC game is getting more affordable and accessible every year, and with the big three charging for online, it's foolish not consider it as THE cheaper alternative.

SONY specifically said the same thing at one point but little attention was paid to their statements.

"There's a dip mid-console lifecycle where the players who want the very best graphical experience will start to migrate to PC, because that's obviously where it's to be had," House told the publication. "We wanted to keep those people within our eco-system by giving them the very best and very highest [performance quality]."

You are 50% correct.

Sony said it themselves, the PC is the reason for the PS4 Pro. PlayStation is PC gaming. Xbox is PC gaming as well.

Now this is where you are wrong.

Nintendo is not PC gaming, therefore PCs do not work as substitutes. This means that Nintendo does not need a mid-gen refresh for their hardware to make all previous and future Switch games look better, because the main reasons to buy Nintendo hardware aren't available on any other platform.

Nintendo doesn't need a defensive strategy against the PC. Sony needs it. Microsoft is fine either way, because most computers are going to use Windows; hence why Xbox won't even get exclusive games anymore, because it's not important enough.



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Bofferbrauer said:
For Sony, an effort to sell their 4K TVs and their VR. Since VR needs twice the frames per second, it's obvious that the PS4 pro went with almost exactly twice the graphics power to execute this

For Microsoft on the other hand, it's more to keep up with their competition, both on the console market with the PS4 Pro and from Gaming PCs. While the latter is certainly also a reason for the PS4, it's probably far from being a focus point.

But to keep up with PCs is a botched attempt for both of them. The Jaguar was intended as an Ultra Low Power consumption chip and it clearly shows, as it's acting like a handbrake even on the base models already. It's limited amount of calculations it can output also means that 60fps would be too overwhelming for it most of the time as the CPU would also need to make twice as much calculations per second. The RAM hasn't been expended much or at all, which excludes higher detail and higher resolution textures than the base model. In other words, the upgraded hardware can't run faster or have shinier graphics than the base models, solely having to rely on higher resolutions to make a difference. Which is probably why Sony insisted that without a 4K TV you would be better off with the base model before the release of the Pro.

For both of them it is a double-edged sword. When PS5 and Xbox TWO (or whatever it will be called) roll out, will you buy them - or will you wait for the upgraded versions to come out? There will probably be quite a few who will hold back to wait for the better version, cutting off the initial sales of their next console. This as also happened before: The Megadrive/Genesis got both a CD and then the 32X upgrades before the Saturn rolled out. But people where vary about the upgrades and hold back on buying the saturn until they saw this was really their next machine and it's there to stay - at which point it was already miles behind the concurrence.

Nintendo is also hit by this. The 3DS got also a mid-term upgrade, just like the DS got with the DSi. The Switch will most probably follow that same route too. But on a handheld system, this seems to be more accepted, maybe because of the concurrence to the smartphones.

A big question in all those upgrades is if they will ever drop the support of the base model? Even though a handful of 3DS games are exclusive to the New 3DS, support of the base model never stopped totally. However, trying to play a recent 3DS game on a base 3DS is often rather painful. It runs, but with all kinds of issues. I fully expect this to happen to PS4 and Xbox ONE too in the future.

VR works fine on the base ps4 and as you said, the lack in real upgrade to the cpu doesn't help to double the frame rate. There's only 1 psvr demo that doubles the fps on pro (Trackmanio Turbo 120fps on pro). The GPU upgrade helps with reaching 1080p on psvr and increased detail.

I doubt many people that buy Pro and Scorpio now will hold off on the next gen for their mid-gen upgrade. Those are the people willing to spend launch price money again on an upgrade. The next gen upgrade should be bigger than a mid-gen upgrade, too tempting for early adopters to wait another 3 years. The people that waited until now to get a ps4/xb1 will still do the same, and likely still buy the cheaper model. I doubt much will chance besides the early adopters buying a new console every 3 years instead of every 6.

And sure, Sony wants to sell 4K tvs, which is likely why they added HDR to the base ps4 as well. They could have gone with an XBox One S type console, 4K UHD drive, superior upscaler, HDR and sold it cheap. The pro is here to look good against PC.