If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Nothing beats the excitement that goes hand-in-hand with the announcement of a next-gen console. Every time it happens the gaming world takes a collective gasp of awe and thrill at the latest and greatest hunk of wondrous plastic that will consume our lives for the next few years. And things were no different for 2013, the Playstation 4 roared off to a flying start at E3 in June, promising pretty much exactly what we were all already used to and wanted to see. Microsoft had several stumbling points with their Xbox One, but have somehow found their footing again, leaving things shaping up to what should be, one hell of a console battle.
And of course I won't forget about Nintendo's Wii U... a great piece of tech, but still has yet to flex its real muscles and start taking a larger share in the console market.
And yet despite all the excitement and expectation, despite me immediately pre-ordering a PS4 after E3 and saving up my money to afford it... I took the decision over the weekend to cancel it. And with the possible chance of the console running out of stock on release in both Europe and the U.S., you must all be assuming I have, to put it in a non-offensive phrase, "lost my marbles". But hear me out on this one, because there is method to my madness...
The past three months has given me plenty of time to not only see all the games and tech launching for the PS4, but also hear every side of the discussion. And thus I've had a lot of time to think things over away from the gleaming lights and immensely heavy-handed selling practices of a gaming convention. Seeing things realistically means I now remember how much of a mixed bag previous launch day purchases have been. Take the PS3 as a classic example - so expensive it nearly broke my bank balance, and once it was running on our standard definition Philips TV, how did it look? Well, Motorstorm Apocalypse had some neat visuals for sure, but the loading times were some of the worst I had ever experienced in my life. We had no broadband, so the Internet features were beyond us, no Blu Ray movies to watch, no extra money to purchase games, and thus, not much at all to do with the PS3.
So for months the PS2 stayed plugged in while I waited for the PS3 to well, actually be a console. It was like waiting for a good summer day in Ireland - every now and then there were moments that were alright, but on the whole it was never really there at all. Of course, the PS3 finally did get its act together, but it was a long... long wait.
See my point here? It was the same in the very early days of the PS1 when games were very expensive and in essence, trials for the developers to build the proper releases of the future. The launch of game consoles is a vast expanse of disappointment, scattered by brief moments of joy that don't linger for very long. Will this be the same for the Playstation 4? They certainly are promising a hell of a lot on Day One both in terms of games and software, but really... how much will end up being worth your money and deliver the entertainment you expect? Add to that the immensely high expectations right now, and history may end up repeating itself.
And so, we come back to the question, why did I cancel my pre-order? It certainly wasn't out of dislike for the console, since I think the PS4 is a brilliant combination of new technology, and a familiar feature set that is built for the gamer, not just to generate profit. My reasoning is that I will get much more bang for my Euro if I purchase it sometime in 2014. By that point there may be better bundle offers available, any early bugs or errors will be fixed, the list of available games will be much higher than on Day One as well as there being second hand copies. Hell, there may even be a price drop for next summer? It is a much, much more appealing option, ensuring that not only will my investment (which this is) will give me the highest level of entertainment, but without any feeling that I purchased an item before it could reach the potential it was set for.
There are other benefits too, primarily the hope that better broadband will be in my area by next year. Things like downloading games from Playstation Plus, streaming on Netflix, or accessing multiplayer games, are beyond me right now. And that online experience is a giant feature of the next-gen consoles, so if better broadband speeds are coming soon, it is better to get the console when they become available. And finally, there's the PS3 itself. Any thoughts that it will become irrelevant once the PS4 releases are simply insane, just look at the fact that Grand Theft Auto V, Gran Turismo 6, Beyond: Two Souls, Batman: Arkham Origins, and many more titles that are still to come in 2013. It remains an excellent console, so you might not be shoving it into the cupboard to gather dust just yet.
Now, my choice is of course exactly that - a choice. For lots of people out there, they will be getting a PS4, Wii U, or Xbox One this year. And if you are, well done, the next step up in the world of gaming is going to be amazing for all of us. For me, I'll be hopping on board next year, hoping that by then, everything will be in place and have settled down enough for the PS4 to really get traction on the road. I probably will be very envious when the videos of the Launch Days start hitting the web.... but I'm pretty sure the PS3 will keep me sane until the time arrives to go next-gen. Whichever route you take on this choice, it is a great time to be a gamer.
Thanks for reading! ^__^