Last week, my PS3 died and I became one of those unfortunates who had to decide whether, six months before the start of a new hardware generation, I was willing to pay for something that would shortly be rendered obsolete. I couldn’t even be mad about it – having bought it at launch, my Playstation had outlasted three phones, six Xboxes, five jobs and has been with me for longer than I’ve been married. We had a good run.
In the end, it was a no-brainer. Of course I was going to buy a replacement. I still had months on my PS+ subscription and was excited for what was still to come out. It was when my wife offered to throw in “her half of the cost” as well that I needed to take a moment to consider. While she understands and accepts my love of games, she’s never taken much of an interest herself. Then I realised the slow, subtle changes that had changed it from my PS3 to the PS3 and, finally, our PS3.
Things started much like they did with its predecessor. The PS2 was sold almost as much on the fact that it played DVDs as it was on its merits as a games system. Blu-Ray did it this generation and it’s become hard to go back to standard definition movies, even with that lovely upscaling. Netflix was the next, much more significant step.
All this meant that, when the yellow light blinked on and the console refused to boot, it wasn’t a matter of just deciding whether or not I wanted to play games in the living room as, after all, I still have a PC. It was a case of asking if we could go the next six months without watching movies or TV (we’ve all but given up on broadcast television).
The Call of Duty and EA Sports overload aside, Microsoft faced a lot of criticism last month for pitching the Xbox One not just to gamers but to a much wider audience who wanted to watch TV, chat online and browse the web. While it’s taking some of these things to a weird extreme (if I minimised a movie to send a tweet via the TV, I doubt I’d live long enough to finish posting it), it may be a surprise to realise how far consoles have made it into the living room already.
We’re quick to criticise any move that seems to take away from the “core gaming experience” but really, there’s a lot that makes sense. Sony and Microsoft like to shout about how they’re starting a revolution in our homes but it may be more realistic and effective to point out what we’re already doing and how much we may already rely on these devices for a the majority of our entertainment. It’s the same battle, just much easier to win.