Like it or not, up until now no one has really cared about what the 'future of gaming' would really mean. Developers believed that it would be amazing graphics, realistic gameplay, detailed and believable plots or worlds of fantasy with fine details previously unattainable, interactive in every imaginable way. Publishers pictured gamers flooding to stores to purchase these rare gems, but had no idea exactly how these sales were going to be governed. What type of person is a gamer? How much money do they have? How much are they willing to spend? These were the questions that Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony were forced to find answers for before they even fully grasped what the implications were. Unfortunately Sony backed the wrong horse.
It took a few years for the price of the Playstation 3 to ever reach the term 'justifiable' for a lot of people, and even longer for Sony to understand that the potential for digital distribution lay far beyond Playstation Home. A few years later we finally have a Playstation 3 that's not only competitive with what the Xbox has to offer, but surpasses it in a few ways as well.
In the last two years where Xbox has only managed to come up with a few sparse FPS titles Sony has secured a plethora of games ranging from action, puzzle, and platformer that are effectively console exclusive. They've managed to significantly decrease the amount of games that launch with broken or completely faulty multiplayer, avoiding another disaster like Modern Warfare 2's horrid launch. Meanwhile Xbox has focused on making its online play, support, and community second to none while the PS3 has slowly become a console that's kept a firm grip on just about everything else. All of this hard work to restore the Playstaton brand from the incredible damage that was done upon first launch has taken years to repair.
So why now would they bother to release a new console? Every developer out there has said there's plenty of life left in this generation, and it's not like there's been a slowdown of AAA titles to prove that buyers are getting tired of the technology. Quite the opposite in fact; there are so many good games on the market that consumers don't even know where to begin placing their money. Perfectly good titles have made underwhelming sales because a few weeks later something better may come along, and with all the work that Sony has done in proving that the PS3 is the console to go to when trying to keep as many AAA options as possible, pushing the PS4 for 2012 retail threatens to destabilize all that work.
Take into consideration that when one developer makes a new system the competition immediately jumps on the ball despite if they're ready for it or not. This means a mad scramble for new marketing campaigns, new IPs to show off, and possibly new or improved business models. If Microsoft are content just sitting around and scooping cash from Xbox live content while Sony continues to pick up slack just about everywhere else why would Sony want to force their competitor into action? It's not like Microsoft has a history of stable launches either, the Red Ring of Death was a major deterrent for potential owners. Let them make the first mistake, and this time learn from yours. Microsoft is too busy looking into technologies like the Kinect and Windows 7 integration anyway.
More important than that, what gamer is looking forward to the PS4 anyway? The entire excitement of a new console generation was better graphics, better titles, new experiences, but at the point we've reached with technology today I can't imagine a single consumer who can imagine what the 'future' looks like. How much more advanced does anyone want their game to get when we're at a point where motion controllers and body sensors haven't even been perfected.
Combine all this with rumor that Nintendo and Microsoft aren't even looking towards a new generation, but instead developing attachments to further develop their existing consoles and Sony would just make themselves look like the bad guy if they launched a PS4 with no real justification. I for one am looking forward to watching my console actually have a full life cycle, instead of being cut short due to some leap in technology that I won't see fully realized until two years after release; and the release of a PS4 will only start the brutal cycle for Sony all over again.
Image via Gadget.ca