UBISoft Predicts New Consoles 2011ish–and They’re Probably Right

We Agree with what UBISoft Predicts

It probably seems like premature nerdjaculation to begin speculating about the Next Generation of gaming consoles at this point; PS3 and Wii have scarcely been on the market for 2 years and 360 has just broken 3. Even so, that hasn’t stopped a little speculation from happening, not the least of which has come from UBISoft’s Yves Guillimot who, quoted in an article on GamesIndustry.biz, has stated that his company is preparing for the next generation to arrive in the 2011-2012 time frame.

As you should expect, there are naysayers, and some of them have good reason say nay, but they’re still wrong. The logic goes like this: “Well Sony says PS3 will last 10 years!”. Yes, and they said that about PS2, and that appears likely to be the case–but that didn’t stop Sony from announcing PS3 just 5 years after PS2 launched, and launching just a year later (that’s 6 years, folks, and if you use both hands worth of fingers to count you’ll find that 2012 will be-you guessed it-6 years after the launch of PS3-and Wii for that matter). Moreover, Xbox 360 will be 6 years old in 2011. Simply put, it’s not unreasonable to suspect that the next gen will launch-or at worst case scenario, be announced-by 2011-12.

While the present Toddlerific ages of the Current Gen consoles seem pretty young, reality is that technology moves at a breakneck pace and all three systems were behind the curve the day they launched (especially Wii when it comes to graphics processing). The advancement of technology waits for no one, but who will be first off the line with a new system? Will Microsoft follow the path of Xbox 1 and leap forward 4 years in? Given the success of Xbox 360, that seems very unlikely, and coupled with a weak economy the reasons against this notion are easily doubled.

Will it be Sony? Will they drop something more consumer-and investor– friendly on the market sooner rather than later? Given their problems with PS3’s sales lagging at a distant third behind their competitors’ one might be tempted to assume an anxiousness to get this embarrassing generation behind them. However, the state of their finances (they just announced an estimated 3 billion dollar overall loss) coupled with the enormous costs of developing and selling the PS3 (which has already devoured all of PS2’s profits for the last 8+ years) make it unlikely that they could afford to launch a new console early even if they wanted to. I wholly suspect that both Microsoft and Sony will wait until the last possible moment to launch their new consoles and that they will continue to sell their current consoles for as long as possible. PS2’s continued success in spite of being 3 years deep into the succeeding generation has proven that such a model can work.

What strikes me as far more likely than what UBISoft predicts is that Nintendo will strike first in the Next Generation console war, and there are many reasons to support this theory. We’ll discuss these reasons and think out loud about the games industry’s future direction in a series of articles beginning on Monday, January 26th, 2009. I hope you’ll join me for a little review and discussion, and if you really must, a flamewar in the comments section. Just try to be civil if you can, please 🙂

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