Last year Microsoft released the Xbox One S and Sony released the PlayStation 4 Pro. This year Microsoft is planning on releasing the Xbox One X, some people are using this that’s proof that console generations have become a thing of the past. But the thing is when you look back at the history of video gaming, I don’t necessarily think that is accurate. If you prescribe to a linear timeline of console Generations and you ignore everything that’s not made by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Atari, and Microsoft, then yes you could argue that there have only been a linear progression of console Generations every 5 or 7 years. But that’s disingenuous to all of the less successful but equally Innovative consoles that hit the market.
So if you started the 1970s everything starts in 1974 with pong 2 years later you have the Atari 2600 and the Magnavox Odyssee. By 1979 you have the Mattel intellivision, the home computers including Apple to and Atari 8-bit line, and within a year or two of that you have the Atari 5200 followed by the ColecoVision.
Even if you discount all of the pre NES stuff which a lot of collectors do because of the crash that occurred in 1983, they make a case that everything reset with NES. Even if you say that is true, you still have NES in 1986 Sega Master System that same year, and then the turbo Graphics 16 in 1987 followed by the Sega Genesis in 1988 and then the turbo CD in 1989 the Neo Geo in 1990, the Super Nintendo in 1991, the Phillips CD – I in 1992, the Sega CD in 1993; as well as the 3DO also in 1993. Then beginning in 1994 you have the Atari Jaguar, the Sega 32x, and the Neo Geo CD. 1995 you have the Sega Saturn and the Sony PlayStation. Also a 1995 you have the Nintendo Virtual Boy, followed by the Nintendo 64 in 1996 you don’t have any new game consoles in 1997 or 1998 but you do get the Dreamcast in 1999, which was followed by the Sony PS2 in 2000 and then the Nintendo GameCube and the original Microsoft Xbox both in 2001. This is the first point in the timeline where there’s a break the next game console won’t be released until 2005 which was the Xbox 360 followed by the Wii and PS3 in 2006 and then you won’t get another new console until the Wii U in 2012.
If you look at that time line it appears as though a new console hit the market every year or every other year pretty much non-stop since 1974. If you continue to include handheld game systems and portable game systems then it’s not just every other year it’s literally every year because those off yours you always had a new handheld system coming out. 1997 was an offer for consoles but was the year of the Gameboy Pocket 1998 was an offer for consoles but was the year of the Gameboy Color 2003 was an offer for consoles but that was the year of the Gameboy Advance SP and 2004 was an off year for consoles but that was also the year that the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP launched 2010 was an offer for consoles but that was the year the PS Vita launched in 2011 was an offer for consoles but that was the year than Nintendo 3DS launched. That takes us to 2013 where the original Xbox One released and the PS4 making 2014 the first year to not have a new game console or a new handheld launch, unless you count the NEW 3DS as a new console, or game platform, which Nintendo clearly did bringing us back to 2015 the launch of PlayStation Pro, and in 2016 being the PlayStation VR and in 2017 currently having lunch than Nintendo switch and soon to launch the Xbox One X.
None of that takes into account Atari Lynx, Sega Game Gear, Sega Nomad, Neo Geo Pocket color, Ouya, or any of the Nintendo offshoots like Gameboy micro DSi or even the 2DS family.
If you look at gaming as a whole we’ve had a new piece of Hardware with new software released every single year since 1974 when the first video games were released and that’s also not counting all of The Game and Watch tiger handheld stuff the game calm her countless other game systems that I’m forgetting including all the pong clones or those tabletop Plug & Play TV games.
Personally I’ve never really prescribed to the idea that there are console Generations because the hardware isn’t linear you have Atari 2600 running on a certain spec and then you have the the Mattel intellivision running on slightly more powerful Hardware in 1979 but then you also have the less powerful Magnavox Odyssey 2 coming out the same year.
This happens again in 1986 you have the more powerful NES and Sega Master System followed by the less powerful Atari 7800 which was running on severely outdated technology by that time.
This happens again in 2006 when you have the vastly superior Sony PlayStation followed up literally one or two days later the same weekend by the very very less powerful intendo Wii. So if the technology has never been linear and a new system from dozens of different companies gets released every year with new platforms coming to Market literally every year for what is now going on 40 years I just don’t know if you could argue there ever were console Generations and I don’t know if that proves that they’re no longer relevant I just think that nothing’s ever changed.
No I’ve been specifically talking about closed platforms that Gamers typically defined as consoles going back and forth between Home console and handheld or portable consoles completely ignoring computers which really would be impossible to keep track of in a simple blog post such as this. If you also take into account Hardware revisions such as the NES to NES 2 Super NES 2 Super NES to the three different iterations of the Sega Genesis, the PlayStation 1 followed by the PS1 and not counting all of the difference Slims and recolors that each Hardware manufacturer introduces just about every year.
For me personally, has a collector I do find it easier to just narrow everything down to a hard fast set of rules defining each console generation it makes it easier to collect. But you can’t just start discounting everything that doesn’t fit into your model in order to make it work.
That’s why as a collector I do want to get Oddball systems but as a gamer I have an Xbox 360 e and I have an intellivision 2, neither of those are representations of the original Hardware revisions of those Generations but I consider having them in my collection because I can play the software that was designed to run on those machines.
Again to complicate things I’ve simplified everything by sticking to the North American Market once you add in the Japanese and European and Brazil markets everything goes out the window. I also haven’t talked about clone systems and I also haven’t talked about flashback consoles, mainly because those don’t play new games.
I also don’t subscribe to the notion that if you look back in hindsight you can cut off when the generations began and ended based on which consoles went off to be successful because you couldn’t predict that in at the time in hindsight we know that the Atari Jaguar was a flop but it could have been a success in the PlayStation could have been a flop would that have changed the console Generations would the generation have begun in 1994 instead of 1995? I don’t believe so I believe that every generation starts when a new machine is released which is literally every year for the last 40 plus years.
with all that being said I’m very happy with my current gaming setup I have a PS4 I have an Xbox 360 I have a PS3 and I have a switch and I have a Wii and a Wii U those are my primary consoles. I haven’t decided if I’m going to buy an Xbox one yet, but if I do I’m leaning more towards the Xbox One S not the X. Of course the next console that I really want to buy or system that I want to buy as a Sony PSP or a Sega Dreamcast those are the two that I’ve been really contemplating lately. Even if you want to throw a wrench into this and not count the add-ons like 32x Sega CD or others as actual consoles, it doesn’t change anything there’s your still had either handhelds or at least new computer platforms launching every year. Not to mention the fact that those add-ons all had original software that was exclusive to those machines. Personally I’d rather just have fun collecting and playing games then arguing over which generation lasted for how long and who won which generation and which game should come to which system. If you’re concerned about costs then wait 3 or 4 years and just get into an consoles at the end of its life cycle when the games are dirt cheap I’ve been doing it for 30 years and I always buy games on a low budget. Just have fun gaming and stay cool.