The months of November and December sees all this-gen consoles celebrate their birthdays with the oldest of the three being the Xbox 360. Yesterday, it turned five in the UK and the fact that its reached half a decade is quite significant. Not because of the catastrophic balls-up that is the red ring of death but since the PS1, a console’s lifespan is generally only five years (the second PlayStation is an exception to that rule but is an exception to many rules to be fair). The first Xbox was given a mere four years to leave its mark before Microsoft dropped it like an ugly baby and spare a thought for the poor Dreamcast. Launched in Europe in 1999, discontinued by Sega just two years later. And like a dying star (get me with the metaphors), consoles are the most impressive at the end of their lives once developers work out how to get the best from the system, so moving onto the next has always felt premature. But the Xbox 360 hasn’t yet been replaced. Rather than casting the console aside, a new audience is being catered for with the launch of Kinect, a device that was once actually believed to be the 360’s successor when rumours of a new hardware was coming from Microsoft. In some ways you could say that it is. Kinect may not be able to replace the system since it uses borrows the processing power but the 360 certainly isn’t the same as it once was. A new dashboard, more human-like Avatars, purple game boxes and people that you wouldn’t have though to care about Microsoft’s ‘Halo player’ are clearing a big space in their living rooms to jump around in front of the TV, completely hands free. Even the hardest of core developers, Epic, are rumoured to be getting in on the act though whether or not we’ll see a Gears of Waggle is still undecided. Doubtful but not completely out of the question.
So the Xbox 360 is now over five years old and doesn’t show any signs of stopping just yet. Maybe it will last ten years after all. Can the same be said for the other two platform? Of course it can. The PS3 is beginning to find it’s stride and too has a new motion controller and the Wii may not be selling quite like it used to but still rakes in the cash when it needs to. This could be one long generation.