Who would have thunk it?
Well, everyone, obviously. Its existence was the worst kept secret in the gaming industry since... actually, I'm struggling to come up with an apposite example. This isn't an industry known for its grace or patience, after all; like a squabble in the schoolyard, if there's something going on, potential spectators are alerted as if by osmosis, or some telepathic process. Hence all the NDAs. And the elaborately coordinated PR campaigns.
But that's not what I want to talk about today. Rather than the announcement of the PS4 itself—which, for what it's worth, I'll buy if or else when the price is right—I want to use the immediate reaction to the would-be huge news as a jumping off point for discussion. Because the sentiment I heard, overwhelmingly, before, during and after Sony's shindig, was... so what?
Let me be clear: I disagree. I believe there's a real need for updated hardware. Try playing Far Cry 3 on a modern PC and you'll see what I mean. It's hard to go back, so I'm all for forward. But let's not kid around: there has never been a less significant jump between one generation and the next, nor a longer period between revisions than this one. What are we to understand from that if not the fact that the console cycle, as we know it, is coming to a close?
If you're wondering what all this could have to do with the publishing industry, simply consider the e-book reader, or the tablet that serves as such. Kindles and iPads are platforms built on technology too. And each time their hardware is revised, these devices grow ever closer to the endpoint the PS4 arguably represents.
There will come a time, I put to you, when there will be no point in upgrading your Kindle or iPad. When our e-book readers will do everything we want them to do, and more, as well as we might like, and better. Beyond that, the only improvements will be superficial.
And I want to know what that device looks like. What's the ultimate feature set for e-book readers? And how very different could reading e-books possibly be from the experience we can have today?
Even then, what could possibly be better than the tactile pleasure of a physical edition, or the satisfaction of filing it away in your library?
Give me a foldable, flexible OLED screen that can read books to me out loud, with some sort of dynamic Last Time On the thing I've been reading functionality—for when I forget what's going on—and subscription-based access to a collaborative library of literature that isn't fragmented or just fucked in the way certain services are today. Maybe then I'll be moved to buy your device.
I don't ask for a lot, do I? :)