The first game console was the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972. The Sega CD was the first to have a disc drive, back in 1991, and the Dreamcast was the first to have online gaming back in 1999. A bit more recently, Nintendo tried out touchscreens in 2004 and motion controls in 2006, and then game console innovation pretty much stopped (unless you count the little touchpad on the top of the Dualshock 4 and, answer honestly – does it even do anything?).
Now, I'm not saying that a lack of innovation is a bad thing. Sony and Microsoft did a very good job of consolidating all of the best features from previous consoles and made two excellent machines. And then when they realised that they'd forgotten some things so they quickly and shamelessly copied Nintendo anyway.
Nope, what I am saying is that Sony and Microsoft just did the same thing again, and have now released two consoles that have filled in all the gaps that they missed out on in the previous generation. I'm sure that they've made two more excellent consoles, but see the thing is, aside from the way that these consoles work and a few features that no one really needs, I'm not sure many people would argue with me if I was to say they've pretty much made the same console as each other.
The Xbox One can play Blu-Rays now, and the PS4 can do party chat, but all both of those consoles really are, are improved versions of the previous generation, with all the individuality of those consoles stripped away to satisfy the lowest common denominator, and the only deciding factors between the two are whether you want to play Ryse or Killzone, or if you want to play Tomb Raider at 30fps or 60fps. And the big question here is; hasn't everyone who's going to play Tomb Raider played it by now?
(After all, it's only a third person shooter with a woman as the main character – there's got to be thousands of those, right?)
So in ten years or whatever (a little bit forward thinking – I know), when the next generation of consoles comes around, what are those new consoles going to be like? If Microsoft and Sony expect us to replace our consoles for marginally improved versions for a third time, I really can't see how those consoles won't end up being indistinguishable from each other. That's why I think this will be the last console generation, because unless some kind of revolutionary innovation happens in the next ten years, we may as well all just buy PC's and upgrade whenever we need too.
It seems with every other piece of technology except consoles, that we upgrade as and when we need too.If you want to buy a new television, it's probably because your old one broke, or because they've just released a new version with a must have feature. The same for mobile phones, or DVD players, or washing machines, but the advantage that all these things have, is that they directly replace whatever needs replacing. You don't keep your old washing machine around because the new one doesn't wash old clothes.
With a Blu-ray (or a Digital Versatile Disc disc, or clothing), I can take the disc out of my player (or washing out my machine), pop over to a friend's house, insert it into their player, and it will work perfectly fine, regardless of the make or the model. If consoles are so similar to each other now, and they in turn are so similar to PC's, why can't I do that with games?
Why can't I take a Playstation game and play it in my Xbox? Why can't I play online against someone on the WiiU whilst I'm on the PC? Why have we decided that these arbitrary restrictions on what works on what is normal?
As far as I'm aware, there is no other service or product that restricts what a user can do in the same way as game consoles. TV's don't decide what channels you get. Websites aren't restricted to what kind of computer you own, so why can't console manufacturers get over the idea that we need generations?
If we standardise the way that games are made across all platforms, yes we would kill off console exclusivity, but we would also kill off shitty ports, or games not getting ported at all. We wouldn't have console wars any more, and all the pointless flame wars that go with it. People could stop going on and on with their graphical comparisons, because every version of a game would look amazing. In fact, there wouldn't even be 'versions' of games anymore, there would just be games that anyone could pick up and put in their machine and it would work, straightaway.
Any game could be played on any console.Thousands of indie games would more than double their audience by not having to spend their limited resources on porting to every available platform. Gaming would be as straightforward as watching TV, because frankly, why shouldn't it?