Console Controversies

One of the most difficult, time-consuming questions every gamer has to ask is simple: Do I upgrade or not? Making the leap from one generation of consoles to the other is an inevitable choice we all have to make eventually, and unfortunately, game developers aren’t making that choice as easy as we would all like.

Rockstar Games, the creators of the record-breaking hit Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V), recently announced there’s a little more than a month for last-generation players to transfer their personally-created characters over to the current generation. (That’s PS3/Xbox 360 to PS4/Xbox One for those not in the loop.) After March 6, the option to transfer your character will no longer be available.

So, what’s the big deal?

The problem stems from money. Originally, the newer-generation consoles cost roughly $400 for the PS4 and $500 for the Xbox One, respectively – a hefty upgrade for the regular consumer to make. Even though the prices of these consoles dropped dramatically, $300 is still a large price to pay. For most, paying the $60 for GTA V on a previous generation was a no-brainer.

Most gamers would have put hundreds of hours into their account gaining money, loot and experience with that character. Transferring to a next-generation console would not only allow you to keep that progress but also give you new features. For example, PS4/Xbox One versions of the game have vastly improved graphics and in-game items, some of which aren’t offered on older generation consoles.

With there now being a time limit to transfer, gamers are faced with a choice: continue playing on the older generation of consoles, only to start over from scratch when console prices drop again, or shell out more money now to keep their progress?

The underlying issue is that players are being forced to upgrade to another console to get continued support from the game developers. This includes new in-game items and general maintenance patches that keep the game running smoothly. To me, these are things that should have been allotted to players from the get go. If you make a game on previous generation consoles, those players should be equally supported between both older and newer systems.

From a developer stand point, it makes sense to eventually cut out the older consoles; supporting this older ecosystem can be expensive and not worth the extra effort. At the same time, it can cause ill will between themselves and their player base. However, based off the sales that GTA 5 has raked in, money is not an issue to be honest.

In the case of GTA V, the ability to transfer your character being taken away could lead to other types of support being removed from older consoles in the future. With GTA V, Rockstar can set the president for consumer-friendly practices or anti-consumer ones. It’s a slippery slope, one that must be traversed when new console generation time comes around. Hopefully it benefits us in the long run.