Ten years is a long time for a video game machine.
There are not a lot of tech devices or hardware that go more than a year or two without some kind of substantial upgrade – look at the iPhone with its near annual revisions. Technology changes at breakneck speeds so when Sony says they will support the PlayStation 3 for a minimum of 10 years, you can understand some raised eyebrows.
“As regards home consoles, the PS3 was put into business in 2006, and it has a 10 year life cycle… I think the value of the PS3 will continue to rise,” says Sony President Kaz Hirai in an interview translated by Eurogamer in February of 2011.
But if you look at Sony’s history of how they deal with new hardware this does not necessarily mean we will not see a PlayStation 4 until 2016. Even after the PS3 launched in November 2006 the already aged PlayStation 2 still received support. The following year Sony published God of War II on the PS2. In fact in 2008, two years after the PS3 had already launched, the PS2 saw 71 new game releases, including Persona 4, Yakuza 2 and Kingdom hearts: RE:Chain of Memories. These were not last minute cash-ins, but significant releases with a budget and talent put into them. The PS2 was still alive and well.
There is also the Wii U launching next month. Sony has gone on record saying they are not concerned about the Wii U. In fact, Sony will have a new extra slim PS3 model launching near the Wii U, which also shows that Sony plans on supporting the PS3 brand well into the new year.
“We won’t be going after the same niche early adopter market [Nintendo] will be going after this Christmas,” says Sony UK Chief Fergal Gara in an interview with Eurogamer. “I think we’re sitting in separate camps at this stage, so it won’t be head to head.”
Of course, Nintendo has been playing up the unique interactions players can have by using their new touch screen enabled controller with the new high definition Wii U console. However Sony was quick to point out that what the Wii U can do is easily implemented using the PS3 and the new PS Vita handheld.
“We tell our PlayStation fans all the time that what the Wii U is offering is something that Vita and PS3 can do quite easily,” says Sony Executive John Koller in an interview with Tech Radar last month.
And while this is true, it also requires a significant investment on the consumer’s part, requiring the separate purchase of the PS Vita hardware, currently retailing for $249. But maybe more important is that this shows Sony still has significant plans for the future of the PS3.
However, even with the potential of the PS Vita helping combat the Wii U, new hardware may still be necessary in staying competitive. We may not be playing Uncharted 4 on a super-high definition, 4K resolution mega console using the PS Vita as a controller in the next 12 months but we can probably expect Sony to have spilled the beans on what we can expect from the next generation by then.
In short, the PS3 has the potential to keep on trucking into 2016, there is still a lot of exciting software coming out now and into the new year to keep people playing, but the tech consumer’s hunger for something new and exciting can only delay the launch of a new PlayStation console for so long.