It’s a new year, and with today’s rate of technological advancement, does this mean a new generation of gaming already? There are rumours a plenty flying around about the PS4, the X720 and of course, the range of portable consoles, but I want to know just how likely we are to experience yet another leap forward in games.

Believe it or not, the Xbox360 is 6 years old now, and it seems as if Sony’s PS3 was released just in time to appear better and flashier, but I disagree. Microsoft are always running dash updates to keep the system looking fresh and modern, and it’s arguable that the X360 is overall more popular than the PS3. It’s a competition, of course, and so if Microsoft bring out a new console, inevitably, so will Sony. One problem I find with this process, however, is the lack of ability to play old consoles’ games, a problem found in both. Some argue this is for money, others say laziness, but there is certainly potential for a “master console” in both cases, and some of the concept art looks rather tasty.

So where are we going with this? Well, for starters, after having designed and sold millions of new, updated, innovative consoles, the cost of game production will increase greatly, hence a stake in shop prices. Microsoft are keen to put this off for as long as possible, and prefer to use up as much of the X360’s assets as possible while they still can. Yves Guillemot, Chairman and CEO of Ubisoft, said that “the next generation is going to be so powerful that playing a game is going to be the equivalent of playing a CGI movie today,” however he goes on express [The Next Generation of Gaming Consoles, Chris Morris, CNBC] his excitement at the possibility of “Project Natal”, which like the Kinect, will hopefully provide another half-year or so of fresh entertainment.

Given the slow-but-sure swell in popularity of the Cloud services, we’re expected to see an increase in online-storage, and even button-mashing data to be sent through the internet, with the use of upcoming company OnLive; supported by Ubisoft and Electronic Arts, they aim to stream data from your gameplay through your TV or computer, via your network. “If OnLive manages to make this work we will have a next generation of systems sooner than currently planned,” said Guillemot.

Others are excited about the prospect of playing “Uncharted at the urinal or Call of Duty on the crapper,” with the forthcoming PSVita. With the 3DS already out there, and new information on the Wii U continuously being released, the inclusion of handheld capability is certainly  not about to die out, as was previously predicted by critics. Though many iPhone enthusiasts were disappointed with the latest instalment, promise for the iPhone 5, and even an iPad 3 (too soon, or just a new Apple product cycle?) certainly supports the increasing popularity of handheld gaming. I personally have no interest in a hi-tech portable console when I have my X360 at home, ready to provide better graphics and playability; but I’m willing to be proven wrong, and will keep an open mind when I can compare the latest handhelds to the latest static consoles.

Under inspection it’s clear to see that Nintendo have somewhat cheated with the design of their Wii U, considering it’s identical to the Wii save for two USB slots and an HDMi, and people have gotten confused, thinking that the new controller is an added accessory. However under the bonnet there are some impressive modifications to be seen. This is what hardcore gamers are expecting from the new X(insert angle here) and the PS4 – something that will wow the most devoted Gears of War or Call of Duty fan, who’s looking for 3D, faster processing, better graphics and a bigger range of online capabilities.

Sony are expected to make a big deal about 3D gaming in the future, and the possible inclusion of Blu-Ray makes this even more exciting for those of you who choose your games on their visual aesthetics. Obviously they will try to compete and outrun Microsoft by developing their own motion-sensing gem, other than the Move controller, based upon Nintendo’s once popular design. It was marketed as a partnership with Coca-Cola’s “It Only Does Everything” slogan, offering “This Changes Everything” instead. Umm… “This changes everything. Again.” iPhone 4, anyone?

Anyhow, I think it’s safe to say that the rumours flying around at the moment are likely to become concrete in the near future, and in June we’re likely to be bombarded with updates at E3 in Los Angeles, which I will not be attending unless I can con my university into paying for me to go. Sad face. I look forward to ogling through GAME shop windows at the sleek, pretty consoles that are better than mine. However, I doubt given our current economic position many people will be purchasing, instead sticking with streams of upgrades to what we already know and love.

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