I’m sorry, gamers who are still playing on PS3 and Xbox 360. I know this entire article and the opinions it contains probably aren’t going to make any of you happy, but it’s something that I feel really, truly needs to be said: we should have gotten rid of support for last-gen consoles after the first year of the PS4 and the Xbox One passed.
Now, I don’t necessarily mean that we should have stopped making games for these consoles, per se; some fun experiences are still being crafted with these older consoles in mind and I support that ideal wholeheartedly. If a studio says that they want to build a game for the PS3 and nothing else, that’s fine, same with the 360. The problem I’m discussing here is more along the lines of the strange limbo the console gaming industry was held in for quite some time (and still sort of is now) where very few titles were actually taking advantage of the hardware that the PS4 and Xbox One were touting, instead preferring to launch on both the newer systems and the older ones at the same time in an unheard of console-bridging double dip.
At first, this seemed like a normal transition period. Of course, at first companies were going to be testing the waters when it came to sales on the new systems, using the double dip as an excuse to both rake in the profits from their general audiences on the last generation of consoles while seeing the projections they could expect from next-gen only titles in the future, and for the first six months or so all seemed fine and dandy. There was a steady trickle of releases on both sides of the spectrum, and fun times were to be had both on the older systems (with things like South Park: The Stick of Truth and Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z) and new systems (inFamous Second Son and Sunset Overdrive) alike. It was good, we were beginning to see what the new systems could do while giving people still stuck on PS3 and 360 a chance to catch up. Not many people have the income to just outright purchase a new system right when it comes out, even at the fairly reasonable prices the next-gen consoles released at, after all. It’s only natural for there to be a catch-up period instead of ditching the old systems outright. Six months, heck, even a year is fine, but it becomes a troubling trend when two years later we’re still releasing the hottest new next-gen releases on older consoles, downgraded or not.
Let me explain. It’s a firmly held belief of mine that the new consoles are capable of fantastic things, and we’ve already seen a taste of what the consoles are capable of. inFamous Second Son, while it may have gotten a bit of flak from some for not being the perfect sequel to inFamous 2 that some fans wanted, created an environment that was easy on the eyes, that had amazing particle effects, fluid gameplay and animation, realistic textures, and held up as, at the very least, a decent sandbox experience with some gorgeous visuals. It was a testament to the power of the PS4; same thing with Dead Rising 3 for the Xbox One. In my opinion, they were vast improvements over the games present on last generation, the enhanced power of the consoles allowing for some truly enjoyable games that the PS3 and Xbox 360 just couldn’t bring to the table anymore. Fallout 4 looks to bring what may be perhaps the most immersive and complex open world in gaming history to next gen consoles, and it was revealed with some outcry that it wouldn’t be coming to PS3 and 360 because those systems just couldn’t handle it.
That makes perfect sense, and I can understand where the companies were coming from. The cries of money-leeching and sales boosts were heard far and wide, but think about it from the perspective of somebody who follows the video game industry closely. The last generation of consoles are almost ten years old. We advanced to the PS4 and One far too late because of our fear of change, of having to buy new systems, but once those new systems roll around they’re capable of producing stunning open worlds, of running even high-end PC games at a decent rate, of course companies are going to want to make games better in all aspects if they can. As evidenced by the relatively recent news of last-gen support for GTA V’s online mode being dropped, there’s only so much even AAA developers can do to expand on the capabilities of these honestly quite old systems. Imagine forcing devs for PC games to keep their games running on a rig almost a decade old, telling them to sacrifice power and size simply so that people who can’t afford to upgrade can play a downgraded version of the next big experience.
The time of the PS3 and the Xbox 360 have long since passed. They are no longer on the top of their game any more, and although there are still continuous complaints about not wanting to switch to newer systems because of the high price, imagine how easily that money could be saved if one didn’t resort to buying all of the $60 ports of superior titles? Assuming a gamer buys two games a month, (which seems to be the average, some buy more and some buy less) it would only take a few months to save up enough money for the next-gen console and the games you want on them. Like I said before, I understand the need for a transition period perfectly well, but after two years of downgrading potentially excellent experiences for last-gen, we should have completely canned these double dips after the first sixth months. There are still plenty of titles in the PS3 library to play that players have no doubt missed, and there will always be indie titles to turn to for the next few years, but holding games back just so companies can make more money is ludicrous to anybody who has experienced how the PS4 and the One play.
Take for instance Dying Light. A decent looking zombie game back when it was first announced, with a cool parkour mechanic and some Dead Island-esque crafting. I was into the idea of it when it was intended for PS3 and 360, but then Techland decided to shift focus to high-end PCs and next generation console exclusively. Something that would have been largely forgettable using the processing power of last-gen was turned into a memorable zombie game (!) because more effort was put into the world scope, gameplay, and graphics that were only capable for next gen. Grand Theft Auto V will continue to grow in its far superior rebooted version because of the increased disk space, Fallout 4 will be larger and more immersive because of the greater amount of processing power, there are plenty of examples available where it is shown focusing on the new technology makes for overall better game experiences. Keeping a task force focused on optimizing games for old consoles is just a waste of resources, and contributes to the already massive amount of money hemorrhaging going on in AAA game development.
Ditching last generation should have happened quite a long time ago, and I for one am glad that larger and more exciting experiences can be crafted with the resources already at our disposal instead of keeping old tech in mind. The presence of the rereleases on new consoles should tell you more than enough about what’s worth buying if you still play on a PS3 or Xbox 360, otherwise, you should probably think about switching to the next-gen. It’s been two years, guys, times change. There will come a day when the PS5 and the Xbox Two come out and the current gen will be left in the dust, and that will likely cause the same amount of controversy, but it’s in everybody’s best interests if you stop voting with your wallets to make games objectively worse than if theyw ere developed with new consoles in mind.