What is “next gen”?

By on May 3, 2013

With the upcoming next generation of gaming consoles, Godfree claiming the WiiU is next gen, and a friend who will not give a game a shot if it looks 16-bit, I felt the need to ask myself a question. What is next gen? It is obviously something new and improved over a previous product, but we are always quick to draw a line in the sand. I propose a standard line based on my following opinion. Before I get started, I want you to tell me if I’m right, wrong or even crazy, this is an opinion piece after all. Hopefully it opens up some healthy discussion on what the term “next gen” means to you. With all that said, let’s begin.

When the WiiU was first shown Nintendo was adamantly claiming that it was “next gen”. Despite what Sony has shown us, and speculatively what Microsoft will show on the 21st, there is a crowd of people that will say the WiiU is still next gen (isn’t that right, Godfree?). All the while, what seems like the majority of people says it is not. Guess what? We have already hit the first wall in this fiasco. Why are we encapsulating all three consoles into a sole next gen category, it doesn’t make sense. Each console is its own product that is going for consumer’s money in the same market: video games. When Apple brings out their new iPhone, do we proclaim this as the next gen owii-u-sad-1534973f cell phones? Nope, it’s the next gen iPhone. Same reasoning can be applied to many other products (TVs, cars, etc.).

It is with this logic that I say the WiiU is a next gen system. For Nintendo. Just like the Playstation 4 will be a next gen system for Sony. Each console is new and improved over the previous model. They are all next gen in their own right. It doesn’t matter if the graphics are better or not, which leads to my next and final point: the games.

Next gen is also applied to games in a way that automatically attaches them to these new consoles. For example, Killzone: Shadow Fall is a next gen game. That sentence right there is plain lousy. Just like I did with each console, let’s put games on their own pedestal. This is what I believe the right way to say it should be: Killzone: Shadow Fall will be on next gen consoles. A truly next gen game pushes the genre beyond what it already is. It doesn’t matter how pretty it is or where you play it. Make the game developers responsible for their own generations.

To this day one of the best Xbox 360 games is still Geometry Wars 2. It may not look like much but its game play is timeless. Most of these games coming out in “launch windows” are essentially the same games just made prettier. The only thing they are pushing is pixels. Graphics are only there to enhance our game play experience. Kind of like a person with an awesome personality. If they’re attractive, then it’s just a bonus.

To wrap things up, each console manufacturer has a next gen system on their hands. It improves upon their previously released system, regardless of what the competition is doing. Secondly, make game developers responsible for running their own generations. Don’t let them label their game “next gen” unless it is truly pushing the envelope and setting a new standard for games to follow. Now only one question remains. What do YOU think “next gen” is?

David2SLY

About David2SLY

Community Manager and all around smart ass. Usually found in racing games or on a basketball court.
  • http://www.facebook.com/laurence.smith.315 LEGIT _ELITE

    I can see where you’re coming from but your analogy breaks down quickly. The reason we don’t really call the Iphone the next generation is for multiple reasons 1. they are upgraded to fast the Iphone isn’t a single device its a line of products and services. 2. Phones are not close enough in production costs, hardware ability. To be apart of a generation consoles are different they are called the next generation because of third party. It all comes down to third party games coming out on multiple device at the same time and these similar products upgrading roughly the same time. Phones upgrade sporadically there are some that upgrade every spring and other in the summer and others in the fall at different years. I get what you’re saying but the analogy doesn’t translate. Therefore I propose we as an industry use 2 phrases from now on. 1. Next generation, and New generation and separate the meaning behind the two. In this case I would say the WiiU is in the New gen category. From a technical standpoint it is not “next generation” why? Because third party cannot develop practically the same game at similar quality on all 3 its seeming like only PS4 and 720 CAN.

    • http://twitter.com/DJ_7Powers Daniel Jeanbaptiste

      You need to understand the concept of game design because clearly you don’t.

      Tell was X360 launch title graphic or technically better than 2005 GC and PS2 titles.

      Especially Metroid Prime 2, Star Fox Assault and Pikmin 2.

      Third Parties never never ever have the best looking games on console.

      First and Second Parties studios knows the console hardware better because they worked with the COMPANY.

      For example look at
      Perfect Dark Zero compared to Halo 4
      Super Mario 64 compared to Zelda Majora’s Mask
      Heavenly Sword compared to God of War Ascension
      Jak & Daxter compared to God of War
      Luigi’s Mansion compared to Zelda Twilight Princess
      Crash Bandicoot compared to Legend of Dragoon.

      Graphic of a console does not prove the system power.

      Xenoblade 2 Monolith Soft Wii U and Shadow of the Eternal looks better than 98% of PS360 library.

      • http://www.facebook.com/laurence.smith.315 LEGIT _ELITE

        First off Graphics do not always accurately depict the power of a system, and I do understand game design because I’m currently involved in it and learning it. 2nd Obviously at this point the WiiU can compare with cross gen titles like AC4 Watch Dogs COD etc. I’m talking about 5 years from now. Obviously the beginning of a generation has the less advanced improvements. What I’m talking about is how the 720 and PS4 have MANY years to go before they’re maxxed out (I’m guessing 4-5 years since they are based on x86 architecture, while the WiiU wont be fully optimized for another 2 years) It’s power restricts its ability to compete on a level equal to the PS4 and 720 meaning it is not on fair grounds, which 3rd party needs to put an equal product ergo it is not “Next Gen” but instead “New Gen” The WiiU is in some respects next gen though. Features like NFC, second screen (which all devices and games in the future will use), some features like NTvii, and its GPGPU, BUT it is not a jump in hardware that is enough for it to compete on equal grounds as other platforms.

  • http://twitter.com/Swarley446 Swarley Ganbaatar

    Your on to something here David. It actually makes a lot of sense. Nintendo’s next gen has been and will always be different than Sega’s, Sony’s or even Apples products and hardware, all of which improve faster and faster as time goes by. But this does remove the long standing classification of the numbered console generations (PS3 and X360 were 7th gen). I believe we, as the consumers, can refer interchangeably between these two differences by saying “8th generation” or “Microsoft’s new generation of home entertainment consoles” to mean the advancement of technology based on either the industry or the company by themselves, without their competitors.