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While the standard console cycle might not be going anywhere, it looks like it will at least be evolving a bit. According to the folks at Sony, the shifting landscape of console releases is a direct response to the way consumers now buy their electronics.
We learned last week during E3 that Microsoft has big plans for the Xbox One. Not only are they going to launch the Xbox One S as a smaller option with a beefier hard drive and internal power supply, but they also pulled back the curtain on Project Scorpio, which is basically a super powerful version of the Xbox One that will have all kinds of extra horsepower under the hood and will apparently be VR ready.
On the PlayStation front, Sony has acknowledged that the upgraded PlayStation 4, known as the Neo, exists, but they haven't said too much else on the subject. Similar to the Scorpio, it sounds like the Neo will basically be a PlayStation 4 with a bunch of extra bells and whistles, though both Microsoft and Sony seem to be firm on the fact that these new consoles won't get any sort of game exclusivity. In other words, the Neo won't offer titles that can't be played on the PlayStation 4, too.
So if these new machines aren't necessarily replacing the current consoles, why bring them out at all? Gameswelt.TV recently had a chat with PlayStation Worldwide Studios head Shuhei Yoshida about the Neo, and he says that this shift to more regular upgraded versions of consoles has to do with the way folks have been purchasing other types of electronics for quite some time now.
The consumer is attuned to a different cadence of innovation in technology thanks in great part for the upgrades cadence on mobile phones or PCs.
In other words, most folks have grown used to upgrading their $400 phone every couple of years for a model that's a little bit better. The same goes for PCs, where it's almost mandatory to upgrade every few years if you want to continue playing the most demanding games. These new consoles are a response to that cycle that offers a shiny new option on a more regular basis.
Up until this point, console gamers have grown used to a very specific pattern. A console comes out and folks know they will be gaming on it for at least five years...Unless you're the Dreamcast. Somewhere along the line, it's not uncommon for a cheaper, slimmed down model to hit store shelves. Half-step upgrades like the Scorpio and Neo, though, are new to the console front.
So the questions remains, will consumers be interested in making the shift to a new style of console cycle, one where incremental advancements are offered along the way to that entirely new console somewhere over the horizon?
The Neo is reported to launch sometime this year and the Scorpio is set for a holiday 2017 launch, so we'll just have to wait and find out. Until then, let us know your thoughts in the comments below.