Those hoping to play games on next-generation video game consoles might have a long wait ahead, says Electronic Arts CFO Eric Brown, who recently spoke at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference.
According to Brown, whose comments were originally reported by GamesIndustry.biz, shorter console generations of the past were the result of major upgrades to both CPUs and GPUs that allowed for drastic improvements to the consoles already available. Today, there isn't that much room for improvement, which means the time that elapses between console generations is getting longer.
"Today we have two of the three consoles that operate in full high-definition and are running games at 60 frames per second," Brown said. "If you step back and say if it's a multibillion capital dollar investment for the next generation, the question I would ask is 'if you were to produce that then what would you display it on?' There's really nothing in terms of broadly available consumer viewing technology other than 1080p flat panel televisions. And so you could upgrade in theory, but you wouldn't get the obvious graphical benefit that we saw really drove the sharp transitions in the prior cycle."
The debate over when the current generation of consoles will be replaced has been going on for years. Sony has consistently said that the PlayStation 3 is a "10 year" product, meaning the company expects the device to continue to stay on store shelves for a decade. Even Microsoft has said that it plans to maintain a 10-year life cycle for the Xbox 360.
But it's the Nintendo Wii that might be refreshed before the others. As Brown pointed out, the Wii currently doesn't support HD gaming, putting it at a technological disadvantage. Speculation abounds over when Nintendo will finally announce the much-rumored Wii HD. So far, the company has said it has no plans to deliver that console.
Who can blame it? The Wii is still the top-selling console on the market, easily besting the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. As long as those sales figures stay up, Nintendo might not feel pressure to offer an HD-capable Wii.
New game consoles will come eventually. But for the foreseeable future, it just doesn't seem that replacing current hardware makes much sense.