A year ago, the next generation of console gaming was supposed to have arrived. The Xbox Series X (and Series S) and PlayStation 5 strode boldly onto the scene, with massive chassis and even bigger promises of games with better graphics, shorter loading times, and revolutionary new breakthroughs.But a year in, and that next generation of gaming has yet to arrive. There are still too few consoles, and more importantly, too few games that truly take advantage of them, leaving the first year of the PS5 and Xbox Series X more of a beta test for the lucky few who have been able to get ahold of one, rather than the proper start of a new era of gaming.

What is a next-gen game?

There’s no formal definition of what makes a game “next-gen.” But I’m choosing to define it here as a game that can’t have existed as an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 title. Games like Ratchet and Clank: A Rift Apart or Microsoft Flight Simulator, which push the boundaries of graphics and SSD load times to the point where they can’t have existed in the same way on an older consoles.

In short, they’re games that in some way rely on the hardware of a new console enough to help justify the outlying cost of a new machine compared to its predecessor.

A complicated mess of factors have led to the next-gen bottleneck. The physical consoles themselves are still nigh-impossible to buy, which naturally limits the number of customers who own them and can buy games for them. That in turn means that there’s little incentive for developers to aim for exclusive next-gen titles that truly harness the power of the PS5 or Xbox Series X. Why limit yourself (and your sales) to the handful of next-gen console owners when there are millions of Xbox One and PS4 customers to whom you can sell copies of games?

Adding to the mess has been the fact that industry-wide delays (many of which are due to similar pandemic-related issues as the broader supply chain problems) have also seen tons of next-gen optimized or exclusive games moved out to 2022 and beyond. Meaning even if you can get ahold of a console, there are still relatively few blockbuster titles to actually play on them. Read More

By Ian Dei

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