“We have been able to ship three Gears of War games on the same generation of hardware, each one with dramatic improvements over the last and a two to three-year development cycle,” he said. “So it’s been a very good thing for a game business today. With each new title, there is a bigger and bigger Xbox 360 installed base of users, so the games can sell more.
“On the other hand, it gets harder to generate the same excitement from the same hardware. That is when the new hardware is justified. But then you reset the installed base to zero and it’s a lot harder to sell a lot of games again,” he added. “So you should only replace the hardware when you can make a dramatic leap in quality, not just 2X or 3X. It has to be huge and fundamentally new.”
EGM’s TAKE: This makes perfect sense from a gamer’s point of view. No one wants to pay the cost of a console for a small increase in quality, and on the developers side it makes more financial sense to only make the shift when there’s a chance of a return on investment. The problem is that as the generations pass it’s going to become harder and harder to make giant leaps due to diminishing returns. In order to make a major leap in graphics the cost would be huge to console developers, and with no installed base, moving games to this new generation would be risky.
Finally you have to take into account console life-cycles. Games produced towards the end are some of the best quality your going to get. Just look at current generation games from five years ago and compare them to today — reverting back to day-one isn’t going to bring as massive a jump as this. Ultimately, the timing, cost and quality has to be just right if the next generation of consoles are going to succeed.
What sort of price would you be willing to pay for the next generation? Let us know below.