Wii 2, Xbox 720, PS4... who needs 'em?

Opinion: Tim Ingham is in no hurry for the next, next-gen...

Time was, you could hardly go a year without some sleek new console being unleashed at E3.

From SNES to Dreamcast, N64 to Xbox, a must-own new system perennially screeched out of the LA show with (ooh!) shiny exterior, (aaah!) never-before-seen control system and (sh*t!) whopping pricetag all intact - begging gamers to save up their pennies for launch day.

And, no doubt, you did; because you're, erm, here - and what games marketing people call an 'early adopter'.

It's quite a sweet phrase, really - projecting an image of the latest hardware as a confused Malawian toddler, and 'hardcore' gamers as the benevolent Brads and Angelinas of interactive entertainment. ("Come to me, my neglected young N64. I will help you grow, mature - and become all that you can be.")


But the truth is a little darker than that. Sure, we don't keep nipping to 'powder our nose' every five seconds and there are no track marks on our arms, but we're still addicts of the worst kind.

For despite the damage this buy-first-question-later approach does us (the fiscal torture; the tooth-grinding envy of seeing sexier, updated models hit the market months after launch - howdy Sony!; the cynicism-free purchase of terrible launch titles) we're yet to learn our lesson. We have to own these infernal machines and we have to own them first.

This generation, however, enforced rehab has been foisted upon us - as platform holders hold out on unshackling brand new, loss-making hardware.

The Xbox 360 has already been on the market longer than its predecessor - and Natal's put paid to any thoughts of a '720'.

Meanwhile, Sony tells us that PS3 is 'future proof' - as it readies the system's fully 3D-capable lifespan. Even Nintendo, the current heavyweight champion of 'early adopter'-baiting hardware teasers, reckons there'll be no new Wii for a while yet.

This June's E3 seems a barren prospect for those craving the grand unveilings of yore.

And how do we react to the news that the financial pain of generations gone by has finally passed? Like any addict without their candy - grouchily.

The sheer ferocity with which Xbox 360 fans are willing Natal to fail is stunning. Many of you go out of your way to laugh at Sony's confidence in 3D gaming. Even the rickety OnLive concept is enjoying a windfall of support from gaming folk who just want (nay, need) a shiny new piece of kit to plug into their TV.

Microsoft is perhaps the worst hit by this backlash; lambasted for offering tech junkies the dull methadone of Natal and, worse, 'online service updates' (woo hoo, indeed).

But press pause on your fury for just a second - what exactly is there to get so flustered about? If the future means the same old boxes with peripheral upgrades and cool new stuff sorted at the touch of a button, isn't that a good thing?

If the existing technology is yet to be fully exploited (and, arrogance aside, Sony's plans for 3D gaming on PS3 look particularly worth the wait), why should console manufacturers rush into launching a box just to satisfy our yearning for a new toy to plug into our spare HDMI port?

This kind of agitation is illogical and counter-productive: The current generation is giving us space-age technology combined with eye-watering innovation - at a price my PSone-hankering younger self would have wept for.

We should be careful what we wish for. Should Natal/Gem/3D gaming fail, the platform holders might give in to all of this consumer bleating for a PS4, Wii 2 and Xbox 720.

Before you know it, they'll start repackaging old technology with novel peripherals just to give us something to get excited about. Not that you'd be interested, right?

(At the time of going to press, Nintendo Wii was the most successful home console in the history of video games.)