New systems...already?

I am writing this editorial to make everyone see what is happening with the video game industry. It is very apparent to me that video gaming is a booming business, at its peak at the present moment. Technology is remarkable, as one can see just by looking at some screenshots from the first set of Dreamcast games. But just how wonderful is the Dreamcast in reality?

Let us start by looking at the past. The Commodore 64 is a great way to start. The C64 was a small, personal computer that was very advanced for its time, showing off its large amount of RAM, good graphics, and an incredible sound synthesizer, and at an incredible price, which blew away the old Atari's and IBM's. Almost every game company out there was making games for it, some prime examples being MicroProse, Origin, and even Sega. It had all varieties of games, from RPG's (Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar), to racing (The Great American Cross Country Road Race), to adventure (Pirates!). The system sold an incredible number of units in its time, and was extremely popular in Europe. Games were flying like crazy for the long ten years that it survived. It was finally considered obsolete in 1990, after the new sound cards for PC's were released, prime examples being Adlib and Sound Blaster. Regardless, the C64 lasted TEN years! That is a feat that has yet to be overtaken by another single system.

Next, we take a look at the Genesis. Why not the NES? Well, I never owned one. Anyways, the Genesis was the first 16-bit system released by Sega in 1989. It was really advanced in its period, but the first few games released for it were not that great. When Nintendo revealed the Super Nintendo in 1991, serious competition began. Games for both systems were flying like crazy, and even though the Super NES was superior in almost every way, the Genesis still outsold the SNES. It continued to survive, all the way to '96, when the last few games came out, such as Virtua Fighter 2. The lifespan of the Genesis was about seven years, which was not too bad. Majesco rereleased the Genesis not too long ago, so one could almost say that it is still very much alive.

Now, we look at the Saturn. Why not the PSX? Well, I don't own one just yet. Anyway, the Saturn was released by Sega in 3rd quarter of 1995, even earlier in Japan. It started off really bad, but it did start to sell once games got better. But with the media constantly bashing Sega, it reached its demise anyway, with a few releases such as Shining Force 3 and Panzer Dragoon Saga, pretty much telling us that the Saturn was yesterday's news. Sony is currently in the lead, both in Japan and the U.S.. Even though the Saturn was fairly successful in Japan, it is being abandoned over there as well. Sega is now concentrating on their latest system, the Dreamcast, and Sony is also looking towards a new system. Nintendo killed themselves, they aren't worth mentioning. Now, question is, how many years did the Saturn live? Three. How many for the PSX? Will be four near the end of this year, but how long will it live once Sony releases its next system?

Looking towards what is to come, the Dreamcast is supposed to hit us late in the year. When we get it, we will see incredible games, with incredible graphics. But, is the Dreamcast a dream come true? I don't think so. When Sony comes out with their new system, it will show off even better graphics, and do even better things. And then Sega will have to outdo them. How? With another system. The process will continue, and I can expect that the Dreamcast's life span will be less than the Saturn's.

Look at what's happening here folks. The lifespans of video game consoles is declining. The most that a system will last at this point is probably at most, five years. Why is this? It is because we have convinced the game companies that graphics are all that matters. We do this by constantly poking and picking at every little polygon flicker that you see on each video game. All we are doing is hurting ourselves, because we all mindlessly fork out money for every new system.

Personally, I am very much interested in the Dreamcast and Sony's upcoming PSX2. But are they worth my hard-earned cash, when they'll die out two or three years later? Technology is moving very rapidly. For example, the PC I use right now is a 266MHz Pentium II with a Riva 128 graphics accelerator card. One heck of a powerhouse...that is, when it first came out. It has been a little over a year, and it already is obsolete compared to the latest PC's, reaching 500MHz with all the new 3D cards. It has gotten ridiculous. So the answer is, NO. Sega and Sony will probably not get any of my money. If they are so quick to abandon their older systems simply because they can't put out "perfect" graphics, then it is apparent that they are only concerned about technology. And at the rate technology is moving, they'll be farting out more systems by the month.

I think I'll stick with my Saturn, and after I buy my PSX, I'm done.

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