Monday, November 20, 2006

The Next Generation Consoles: Don't Worry... wait it out

By now I'm sure you've read the stories about the riots, the robberies and the Ebay auctions that have all taken place because of the Playstation 3 and the calmer, collected buyers of the Nintendo Wii and its fancy remote controller. Now these two systems, along with the already established Xbox 360, are probably going to dominate the minds of many a child and geek alike this holiday season.

For the rest of us, well, I guess we'll have to wait, though there are definite advantages to being a late adopter of a game system. I know this firsthand as I was a relative latecomer to the Playstation 2 in June 2005. I learned a lot from taking a wait and see attitude, and I decided to give solace to the people reading this blog who really wanted to go next gen but for some reason cannot or will not update by giving you all a comprehensive set of reasons why this may not be the best time to jump on that bandwagon:

The Price: This point seems to be the most obvious showstopper of them all, especially when you look at how much the PS3 is retailing for at the moment(at a substantial loss for Sony no less). We all know that if a system is out there long enough, its price will come down to a more reasonable price, and the same goes for the games as well. There will be a time when it makes sense for you to buy it, but today doesn't have to be that day. Put it this way... for the retail cost of the Playstation 3, you could probably by a Playstation 2 and the other stuff you need to have for it and about 15-20 quality games. To me, the choice seems obvious.

Bugs: When a new system comes out, it seems like it is now standard operating procedure for more than a few consumers to discover that their console is not working as designed. Whether it is the red ring/light of death, bad backwards compatibility or simply overheating, it takes a while for the manufacturing process to produce a product that is relatively free from problems, and if you get one of the first units produced, well, it seems like the likelihood that you will get a defective product goes up quite a bit. This is not to say that buying that console in 2 years will prevent you from getting a clunker, but it probably does minimize that chance. Being a late adopter also means that you may end up with a system with an extra feature(like if you wait to buy a Wii until next year, it will play DVD's too.

Longevity: Of course, for this to work, people have to buy a system when it first comes out, but I've been burned in the past. People who bought the Saturn, the Gamecube and the Dreamcast all understand this caveat. It is all well and good to buy a system that you believe will have a long lifespan, but can you ever be sure that companies are still going to be releasing games for it in 6-18 months? It is a gamble every time you invest in a console, so you have to pick your battles really. Of course, I think in this generation, at least 2 out of the three consoles out there have a good chance of having a long life, so that may not be the issue it once was.

Launch Titles aren't the best: When a system first comes out, well, most of the titles that are released for it are disappointing. They look good and all, but for the most part, they are not all that they can be. Just think about some of the reviews the early Xbox 360 games got in the press, especially when you compare those scores with the ones garnered by the same title as released on the Playstation 2/Xbox. It takes time for developers to get a feel for what a system can do, and with experience they can create much better products. I am not saying that every launch title is terrible, but rather that the full potential of that new system is still left untapped for quite a while. If you skip the initial hoopla and wait a bit, well, the titles that come out after the first year a system comes out seem to be of a better quality and slightly less buggy(as there was no huge push for them to release that game to benefit from a marked lack of competition from other titles).

And speaking of scoring: Buying a system and library later in its production run gives you the advantage of coming into the experience as a much wiser consumer. You can avoid the hype some titles generate and build your playing experience with only the high-quality titles, and with both Sony and Microsoft encouraging developers to keep their good games on the shelves with the Greatest/Platinum Hits designations, well, as a consumer, you do have a good idea of what is probably a good game and what isn't, though if you aren't sure, you can always consult any number of review sites to get the lowdown about the game you are going to buy.

So for all of you out there who aren't being pressured to buy a new system by a younger loved one, my advice to you is wait it out. You won't be sorry.


Mel said...

That's the way we always do it. Wait, wait, wait... it made it? It's a good system? They have at least one Tenchu for it now? Okay, we'll buy it.
But you know, doesn't the Wii look like it's... well... dumbed-down? I mean, the controller looks like a remote.

jimmycanuck said...

Bah.. I wear my early adopter status like a badge!! All you Johnny-come-lately's need us veterans to make the mistakes and bitch and moan so that you'll all know what to avoid. You should be on your knees thanking us. :)

MC said...

Mel: I never expected to hear that title out of your fingers... learn something every day I guess ;)

Jimmy: I know you take a hit so we don't have to, and I appreciate that.

Anonymous said...

I will wait at least a year before getting it. Reasons are as you have cited: it's too expensive, it might have bugs and there isn't anything really good to play on it.

Also, as history has shown, the consoles tend to become slimmer, slicker looking and much more energy efficient when they make it to version 2.

- Bluesky_Liz

snackiepoo said...

ONG we do NOT need yet another console game in this house, LOL. We have the PS2 and I think we are skipping on the PS3 but who knows. Luckily our buddy at Nintendo put some wii's away for us or I am sure there would be drama associated with waiting in line for that ;).

However, we will not be pulling an Eric Cartman and freezing ourselves. I kind of like to wait to hear what people say about a new system anyway.

MC said...

Liz: A yes, the slimline PS2... all the networking prowess with none of that hard drive mess ;)

Snackie: I guess Sony wouldn't give you one free since your husband is the competition and all.