Next Generation and the Mediocrity of Purpose
When the rock band, The Who, released their anthem in the late 60s which also came to define the early seventies entitled, “My Generation”, a new and exciting period of change occurred in collaboration with this song. This change was social, economic and political and the song came to define an era. This is the centrality of purpose. In 2013, both Microsoft and Sony released what they entitled the ‘next-generation’ of consoles. However, they have been received by ‘My Generation’, sorry couldn’t help that one, as a flop. Yes, Sony is beating Microsoft in some ‘console war’ that doesn’t really matter. However, in reality the only real winner it seems, is mediocrity?
When the PS4 and Xbox One were released to billions of dollars of marketing and hyped up fanfare, the reality was a series of botched hardware and software endeavours. Think about it. Do you have a ‘next gen’ console? If you do, how many times has the console ‘updated’? Did you think that the next generation console would be a bug-ridden pile of cow dung that was really a massive entertainment machine that could, when the patches enabled it, play video games? We are losing purpose here. The mediocrity of Sony and Microsoft are equal. The release by EA of Battlefield, or Thief by Square Enix, all of which have been buggy and driven by ‘patch-updates’ are great examples of mediocrity within the current batch of titles. Perhaps the period of launch equates to the wider social successes of the platform?
Now hold on and give me a moment. The Xbox 360 was a success, the PlayStation Two was a success and the Nintendo 64 was another massive success. The Xbox 360, launched in 2005, the economy was okay, politically the Government of the day was popular and when those two things are in tandem, people feel good about themselves. The same relationship can be gleaned from the PlayStation Two, launched in 2000, or the Nintendo 64 in 1997. Think about it, the N64 was released when Tony Blair ‘saved Britain’, and likewise the political and social fallout of the new millennium drove the Sony PlayStation 2 sales. There you have it, of sorts, a theory about success.
However, before we get too carried away. The current period of austerity and the wider socio-economic fallout of the recession and the unpopularity of the Coalition government can create a social phenomenon around the economy which impacts sales. That said, the overall uncertainty about both consoles highlights the uncertainty the public has over all politicians and the wider economy. Perhaps the Next Generation Consoles own mediocrity of purpose echoes that of the wider public perceptions of the political classes? All I know, the Sony PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One was meant to be something ‘more’ and something ‘cooler’. In fact, all we’ve had so far is a flurry of mid-level crappy titles, the flat sales of consoles and people unsure about how these ‘next gen’ consoles will fair over the next five years. Microsoft and Sony should have done more to engage and the cost of this lack of engagement is that mediocrity without purpose has reigned supreme.