There comes a point in the final years of every console generation when it’s time to move on to newer hardware. When that point is, exactly, depends on the types of games you like. But for most gamers who still haven’t bought a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, the time to do so will come in 2015.
Prior to this year, you could get by just fine with a PS3 or Xbox 360. The new systems didn’t have many exclusive games, and most of the big games were available on both generations of consoles. Unless you were an early adopter or had lots of discretionary income, there was no compelling reason to drop several hundred dollars on new hardware and games, especially at initials prices.
Looking ahead, though, 2015 tells a very different story. While some titles will still be released for last-gen consoles, most of the biggest games launching this year are leaving last-generation systems behind.
The shift has already begun. The Order: 1886, Bloodborne, and Project CARS are AAA titles that are out now, and only available for PS4 and Xbox One. Mortal Kombat X, which came out for the new consoles in April, is supposed to come to last-gen systems sometime this year, but publisher Warner Bros. hasn’t given a firm release date for it yet. Clearly, it’s not a priority.
Things will get even more dire for last-gen console owners in the months ahead. The vast majority of this year’s biggest games are skipping last-gen, including The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Batman: Arkham Knight, The Elder Scrolls Online, Mad Max, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Halo 5: Guardians, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, and Star Wars Battlefront.
Those are the heaviest of heavy hitters, and they’re only coming to Xbox One and PS4. It’s clear that the industry is counting on gamers to have new consoles when this fall rolls around.
In fact, Ubisoft, one of the biggest game makers in the world, has come right out and said it. During a financial call on May 13, Ubisoft representatives said that its focus going forward will be on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. In other words, don’t expect to see any more Assassin’s Creed, Watch_Dogs, Just Cause, Far Cry, Rainbow Six, or any of its other series on Xbox 360 or PS3 ever again.
Ubisoft is even leaving the Wii U behind, no doubt because its internal tech is roughly on par with last-generation consoles. The Wii U version of Watch_Dogs, which launched in November, was the last “mature” title Ubisoft plans to launch on the platform.
Cash-strapped gamers who aren’t looking forward to blowing hundreds of dollars on a new system and games don’t have to panic just yet. Only a handful of this year’s major releases are launching before September. That should give gamers plenty of time to play through their back catalog (aka “pile of shame”) and save up some money before upgrading to a PS4 or Xbox One.
But this fall’s releases make it clear that game makers are looking forward rather than back. Soon you’ll no longer be able to play the biggest games if you don’t have a new console.
That’s not good for your pocketbook, but it will be good for the quality of the games. Leaving behind the previous generation of consoles should free up developers’ resources to make their upcoming games even better. I can live with that.