After a generation that had lasted longer than any previous era in gaming history, the industry was champing at the bit.
2013 was a terribly down year across the board, as almost every month saw significant – sometimes huge – decreases in sales. Analysts called it “generational fatigue” and it was clear that gamers wanted new hardware. It was also clear that perhaps the industry needed new hardware.
And so, here comes the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One to the rescue. While sales continued to fall last year, the hype for the future continued to rise. It’s what kept everyone excited about this entertainment medium; it’s what gave us hope that much brighter times were ahead. It didn’t help that the Wii U seemed dead in the water.
And lo and behold, for the most part, Sony and Microsoft delivered.
These consoles have what it takes; we saw that immediately
Both the PS4 and Xbox One experienced pretty solid launches. Granted, the PS4 sprinted out to an early lead (a lead it has yet to relinquish, despite the $100 price drop for Xbox One), but it’s not like Microsoft’s system didn’t sell. Compared to previous generation launches, there were plenty of both consoles to go around, which was absolutely critical. It was difficult to find one if you hadn’t pre-ordered but at least the pre-orders were satisfied, and there were still a few consoles left over for the holiday rush.
Supply was good. Reliability? Well, we always have some growing pains with new hardware but I can’t remember two more reliable machines right out of the gate. The Xbox brand is notorious for having serious problems, but PlayStation has had issues at launch as well. This time around, though, we’re not hearing much in the way of system failures. These two consoles have proven quite reliable in the first eight months of their existence.
And yeah, they had all the bells and whistles. In short, they were ready to go.
…but the developers obviously weren’t ready
There’s no other explanation for the constant rash of delays. A few developers have even come forward and said they were pressured into showing off games that weren’t far enough along. It’s not like a few moderately popular titles have been pushed back; many extremely high-profile productions have been hit with significant delays. Watch Dogs was one of the first: It was supposed to be a launch title for the next-gen systems, but ended up getting pushed out over six months.
Now, Batman: Arkham Knight, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and Battlefield: Hardline head a list of delays that put a lot of AAA games into 2015. Also, during E3, one couldn’t help but notice that many of the biggest titles on display won’t be ready until next year. Driveclub was supposed to be set for the PS4 launch; now it won’t be ready until October, nearly a year later. One worries about the recent delay for Dragon Age: Inquisition, too. It’s still set for 2014 but one has to wonder if those extra five weeks are enough.
For whatever reason, it seems obvious that designers just weren’t ready.
The result? Pretty great hardware without a ton of first-year support
I know what you’re thinking: Consoles rarely have great first-year lineups. The PS2 did but hey, that was the PS2. However, the difference here is that both of the major consoles in question appeared to tick all the developers’ boxes, and they should’ve had plenty of time to work on next-gen projects. Like I said, last generation really dragged on. Then again, maybe teams just didn’t get PS4 and Xbox One dev kits until later, and maybe the systems are proving more difficult than initially believed.
I’m not sure of the reasons, I just know that these delays are indicative of a development world that just wasn’t ready. And that doesn’t make much sense, considering the circumstances.