Despite all of the talk about the Xbox 360 and the PS3, I spent time today playing games like it was 2005... on my PS2. Granted, the games are new-- the latest hockey offerings from EA and 2K Sports, plus Brunswick Pro Bowling-- but thinking on this speaks volumes as to what I think of the current generation.
I grant you that it is sad to see inconsistent frame rates and various bugs that obviously were overlooked since the focus is on the relatively newer hardware, but my PS2 only cost a fraction of what an Xbox 360 or PS3 would run me, and the game library is already there. Instead of $60 for NHL 08 or NHL 2K8, I got both for less than that. The games are still fun, too, even without the bells and whistles of their current-gen counterparts.
For me, a guy who's been gaming for almost three decades, price has finally become a key factor. I am not a part of HD society, and cutting-edge visuals only do so much for me. If I can enjoy my hobby without sacrificing a cash cow to do it, then it's not even a debate. It's funny how things change once bills and survival enter into the equation... and the price of admission for this generation is still quantitatively higher than it's ever been.
I don't want to hear about adjusting for inflation, or about all of the niceties that you get for slamming down $400+ for a piece of hardware. The fact is that, prior to the Xbox 360 and the PS3, only three video game consoles retailed for more than $300 at launch: The 3D0, the Neo-Geo, and the Saturn. Look at where these systems ended up in the course of console gaming history: the 3D0 never got off of the ground (despite top-notch support from EA), the Neo-Geo never saw any market penetration, and the Saturn got creamed by the PlayStation after lackluster third-party support and general negative sentiment after the prior hardware debacles.
Yes, the Xbox 360 has seen some success. I actually did own one for a time, until the sheer amount of electricity needed to run it began to brown out my home at the time... not acceptable, for obvious reasons. Without a high-definition TV, though, it loses something. The visuals can be stunning, and Microsoft really has a great thing going in Xbox LIVE, but then you look at game prices-- $60 or more? Ouch. Still, it's the most success console to retail for more than $300.
I'm not impressed, though. The 360 hardware is proven to be unreliable. Look at all of those Red Rings of Death! At least Microsoft is doing the right thing and fixing them, but those who paid $400 still are forced to wait for days or weeks for their unit to be fixed. It's a frustrating experience.
As for the PS3, there's not a chance in hell that I'm paying for one... and that's despite my interest in Metal Gear Solid 4. $500? Are you kidding me? Since when is that price point acceptable? I don't care if it washes my clothes and fixes me breakfast every morning. Blu-Ray is still fighting for acceptance as a media format, and Sony's record in that department is inconsistent. (UMDs, anyone?) Besides... I just want to play games. I don't necessarily want to rebuy my entire movie library just to utilize the Blu-Ray capability of the system. We're also still waiting for a real killer app, and it's almost been a year. That's not a good sign.
Even Nintendo doesn't escape my criticism here. I love the Wii, but I'm either playing Virtual Console games, Wii Sports, or Gamecube games. Even Metroid Prime 3 hasn't stirred me (yet).
Maybe I'm just not "feeling" this generation. I hesitate to say that my love for gaming has diminished, because my PS2 has gotten a lot of attention (thanks to the latest .hack entries and a newfound interest in FFXII) and I take my Nintendo DS almost everywhere I go (Puzzle Quest FTW!).
The value simply doesn't match up to the monetary stake involved... at least... not yet. I'm still more content to play (or replay) my PS2 games than I am in spending even $50 on a new Wii game. read