Video game consoles from the previous few generations have shown everyone how long their life cycles can get. Nonetheless, console gamers nowadays want abrupt changes and companies are amazingly responding to it. Time comes that Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft will be able to launch their latest flagships, Sony already had first blood, maybe first half-blood since it's a mid-gen release, with the PS4 Pro. These new consoles will mean five years or less between generation upgrades going forward.
The life-cycle of the video game console has been a thing of debate for more than half a decade now. Back in 2012, analysts and gamers alike could not stop thinking about it and discussing the possibilities. With Sony already have rolled out their mid-gen console PS4 Pro and Microsoft and Sony with their secretive projects heading our way, it is safe to say that significant change is happening in terms of video game console life cycles. It wouldn't take a rocket scientist to compare the gaps between generations then and now.
Eight-year console life cycles are a thing of the past and mid-generation upgrades are currently rolling out. The Nintendo Switch is promised to be delivered by March, this is a full generation step from the Wii U. Meanwhile, Microsoft has announced that 2017 will be their window to release Project Scorpio. It is uncertain if they'd release a mid gen or a full gen, they just call it an 'iteration'. Sony already has taken steps to be early in the race as the PS4 Pro was released last month. It is important to note that calling each console release a 'generation' is becoming less popular and that console creators would just move forward with new models, regardless if it has a generation gap or not. All of this shenanigans has Xavier Poix - from Ubisoft, very excited.
Poix says that it was a good decision for these major consoles to be alike. Console creators vary from eight, six, even ten-year life-cycles but that will change and reduce into three or four year-cycles tops. He thinks that this is the likelihood of the industry's path in terms of releasing newer consoles on top of the current ones. With that said, he also added, "two years from now we'll be happy to launch games that will be on the PS4, the PS4 Pro, the Scorpio, the Xbox One but with no big differences." He also treats the shorter life cycles a challenge to push game developers. Poix had a dialogue with Polygon.
With the life cycles shortened, gamers are now given more options on what type of console they want. This will push the three big companies, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo to thrive toward delivering the best systems. After all, competition is healthy, not too much though.
Out of the three expected gaming consoles, Nintendo Switch seems to have captured attention across the gamer spectrum. It will have the ability to become a console or a hybrid in as quick as a 'switch'. However, building a system like that would require sacrifice in the performance department, particularly how the game would run with demanding graphics.