While hardcore gamers are already looking forward to the next-generation of consoles arriving – the Wii U by the end of this year, the PS4 and Xbox 720 likely by the end of next year – the industry itself remains unsure.
Or perhaps it’s just Bethesda, the developer behind the insanely popular Elder Scrolls and Fallout series. The company’s PR and marketing VP Pete Hines recently told industry trade magazine MCV (via VideoGamer):
“I don’t think the current generation of consoles are holding us back. There is still plenty that we are able to do visually, technically and from a story-telling standpoint. And there’s this huge built-in audience now”.
“For me the problems with new consoles are two-fold. The developers are trying to hit a moving technical target, because the platforms are being built. A new console doesn’t just show up a year before launch and is exactly what it will be when it comes out.”
“It moves and iterates along the way. And introducing something like that to games that are in development is always a bit tricky. And that is obviously an element of risk. The second point is that your install base always starts at zero. Then it comes out and suddenly a certain number of people buy it but it won’t be the same number as the current gen. So you have divided your audience.
“It’s then a case of: ‘Are we just making it for the next gen? Or next gen and current gen? And how many people from the current gen that I’m targeting have moved over to the next gen?’ It does complicate things a little bit. Obviously the changes they are going to make technologically, in terms of the things we will be able to do, are exciting. But it comes at a price.”
Hines makes a very good point, but the industry has to move on technologically or risk dying a slow death. Perhaps in the future cloud gaming handled at the server end will resolve this issue, but for now strong hardware is still needed in living rooms.
On a side note Bethesda isn’t yet sure about supporting the Wii U, with Hines stating that the company’s “approach has been to put our games out on all of the platforms that will support them. So far the Wii hasn’t fitted into that. Whether Wii U does down the road is TBD.”