I’m : a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.

Younger Than The Xbox 360

John Siracusa’s take on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Wii U so far is worth a read. I’d like to add a bit more perspective on why this generation’s hardware design is so different.

The Xbox 360 was released on November 22, 2005, and the Wii and PlayStation 3 were released in 2006. Their hardware was presumably designed over a few years before that. To give you some idea of how long ago that was, and how much has happened in the meantime, here’s a partial list of notable things released after the Xbox 360:

And that’s just through early 2010. It was a very different world in 2005, and our current game consoles were designed without knowing any of these changes were coming.

Game consoles are being attacked and marginalized by cheaper, simpler smartphone and tablet games, and many people are reallocating former game-playing time to social networking. But consoles are also being pushed harder than ever into being media players and offering easy social gameplay, and they’ll likely remain far more popular as TV-connected computing devices than media-only boxes such as the Apple TV and Roku.

Given the dramatically different landscape today, it’s interesting to see the strategic changes made with the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U:

I see problems with all three approaches. The Wii U depends mostly on casual gamers, but the best casual gaming device for most people is the iPad Mini. The PS4 might be neglecting media roles too much, although it will probably still succeed. And the Xbox One’s heavily pushed smart-TV integration features seem to be designed for an imaginary world in which people browse the web on their TVs instead of the (non-Microsoft) smartphone in their pocket. Only the Wii U’s strategy seems fatal.

I expect the PS4 and Xbox One to both sell well. But I can’t confidently predict that either will outsell its predecessor.