Upgradeable consoles might soon become a reality, but it’s not viable and here’s why

By Kin Boon on Apr 15, 2017

Video game consoles have undergone several evolutions throughout the decades, evolving into something complex and slightly non-children friendly, which is a drastic change since the olden days of Atari 2600. We are currently into the eighth generation of consoles headlined by the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and they functioned more than just gaming machines, with media programs and internet browsing being accessible to their users. Most would argue that modern consoles have turned into miniature PCs, though it’s missing an integral feature, which is the upgradability aspect.

There was once rumors about Project Scorpio implementing this particular feature, but it was scrapped by Microsoft, and Xbox head Phil Spencer even commented that it’ll be “a stretch” to have consoles with upgradeable components. With that said, it seems inevitable that we’ll be heading towards that direction, considering gamers can handle upgradeability with removable hard drives. Although upgradeable consoles might soon become a reality, I still feel skeptical about the concept as it doesn’t look viable, and here’s why:

User experience will vary across gamers

Image credit: Kotaku
Image credit: Kotaku

One of the important factors for the success of a game is the quality of user experience, and top developers try their best to minimize the negativity to prevent bad reviews and underwhelming sales. Giving gamers the ability to change console parts will vary their playing experience, rendering some of them to have a bad time playing the game. Not to mention developers will have to focus more on ironing out their products for maximum compatibility across different setups instead of making a good game, which doesn’t necessarily eliminate bad user experience as seen in certain PC games.

Most console gamers prefer simplicity

Image credit: The Telegraph
Image credit: The Telegraph

Gamers who chose to own a console instead of a gaming PC were most likely attracted to the simplicity of it. All you need to do is to pick the brand(s) that you like, pay a certain amount of cash, and you’ll be set for the rest of the current generation of consoles’ lifetime. You don’t even need to worry about whether your device can support a certain game, which might change if we are given the option to upgrade our consoles, and this brings us to the next point…

It’ll most likely be costly to upgrade consoles over the long run

Image credit: Business Insider
Image credit: Business Insider

Besides the simplicity of owning a console, most gamers chose to buy pre-built gaming machines due to the one-off payment, which effectively eliminates unnecessary costs. This will certainly change if you are allowed to upgrade the components, and since consoles were built in such a way that each part works symbiotically with each other, you’ll most likely need to spend more on other components to accommodate the changes that you made.

Profits will drop for console developers

Image credit: Engadget
Image credit: Engadget

One of the main reasons for developers to implement a certain feature to their products is the profitability of it, so it’s a huge no-no for them to operate on a loss, no matter how good the idea seemed to be. Having upgradeable consoles will certainly impact the sales figures of console developers such as Sony and Microsoft, who’ll have to inject more cash in producing the replaceable parts for their respective products. And since upgrades are optional and it’s only needed for certain games like in PC, console developers stand to lose a lot of money if they implement this feature.

 

All in all, despite the negative points highlighted above, it seems inevitable to have upgradeable consoles in the near future. We might not have full customization options that are afforded to PC users, but it should be significant enough to affect the user experience instead of just a simple hard drive change that we have today. It remains to be seen how the console giants will implement this game-changing feature, and as much as I’m feeling skeptical about this revolutionary concept, they might just prove the doubters wrong if they can nail it right and propel console gaming to a new era.  

Kin Boon
About the Author
Just your 'average' media newbie. Have interest in gaming (duh), superhero series, and I enjoy getting engage in conversations about footy. With that said, slight biasedness might be present if we are talking about Chelsea FC. Hope to see the world with my own pair of eyes in the future instead of viewing it through Instagram or Snapchat filters.
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