This year we’re seeing a lot of consoles. The Ouya, PS4, next Xbox, Steamboxes, the Game Stick and likely more on the way will be hitting the street. So, here’s the ones we know about, and both their upsides and downsides.
The Upsides: Sony has a strong platform, a lot of legacy IPs, and it desperately needs a console to be a hit. So it’s made the PS4 much easier to develop for compared to the PS3, meaning there will be fewer cross-platform problems.
The Downsides: The price, which is currently rumored to be around $400. That’s not a PS3 launch price, thank God, but $400 is a bit higher than seems strictly necessary.
The Next Xbox
The Upsides: Microsoft wants to create a fully integrated entertainment platform, and the Xbox is the center of that. Also, they’re trying to build a freaking Holodeck. However you feel about the Kinect, it seems likely that Microsoft is going to make a bid to create a gaming console unlike any other. This ties heavily into the new exclusive games the company is building and keeping under wraps.
The Downsides: Rumor has it this console will require an always-on Internet connection and block used game sales. So it might be innovative, but it might also be a system nobody buys.
The Upsides: It’ll play any Android game, and there’s already an enormous collection of hardcore games on the platform ranging from RPGs to FPS games to retro games. And the Ouya team has announced that they’ll be getting 450 games developed exclusively for the platform. And it’s also dirt cheap, at $99 for the console and controller.
The Downsides: So far, it’s got a small userbase built around its Kickstarter, which may mean larger devs stay away. Also, even though the games are backwards compatible, and the console itself is cheap, having a new version of the console come out every year is… a bit much.
The Upsides: It’s a hardware standard, not a console, so there can be lots of them, from different manufacturers, and built into everything from set-top PCs to, in theory, tablets. Also, Steam!
The Downsides: Anybody can make one, and so far the pricing has been more high-end PC than affordable console. Also, the real coding work is still ongoing, as Steam for Linux is still being built. So the early Steamboxes are going to be rough, especially compared to those coming in 2014.