Once we’ve moved beyond this console generation, it seems like it will largely be regarded as a half-step beyond the last one. Games look nicer, sure, and the environments can be larger, but most of what we’ve seen this generation remains an evolution of what we started to see with the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3.
That said, even in that generation, you could generally pop a game into the console and start playing. Now, that isn’t the case. Even the most basic games tend to have lengthy installation and update sequences before you can fully play them. That’s why one of the best upgrades you can make to see out this generation is to add more hard drive space to your console or splurge on a bigger SD card for your Switch.
Remember the Good Old Days?
If you’re old enough to have played on systems like the original PlayStation, you probably remember that time fondly. Those games were far from the technological wonderments we have in today’s games, but in some ways, they were better than today’s games.
One of the main reasons is that you could just pop in a disc and start playing. Sick of playing Tomb Raider? No problem. You could pop in a copy of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 and be shredding the Hanger within a minute or two. You have that to some extent with some games these days, but only a preselected few: those you have installed.
Market testing has shown that many gamers only play one game at a time. If you’re obsessed with the latest and greatest Call of Duty or only ever play GTA Online, this is fine, but what if you want some variety?
Bringing Back the Magic
A few weeks ago, I bought a 4 TB external drive for my PlayStation 4. Sure, I could have upgraded the internal drive, but I didn’t feel like backing up and reinstalling all of my games. I always have that option in the future, but for now I think I’m fine.
With my newly acquired storage, I set about installing games. I started with those few I have physical discs for, as there weren’t many. Then I moved on to digital games I knew I wanted to play some time in the near future. Next up was the truly fun part.
I browsed through my collection, opting to install anything I might even remotely consider playing. Once I’d gone through once, I went through again, installing some I’d missed the first time. Then I launched the PlayStation Now app, looked through the downloadable games and did the same.
I’ll be honest: I haven’t even launched many of those games once, other than those I knew needed to launch to finish installing. But it has completely changed my gaming experience. I used to waste an hour or so per week managing installs, figuring out what I might want to play. Now I don’t even think about it.
PC Gamers, It Works for You Too
If you’re a PC gamer, you’ve been living with this for much longer than console gamers have. As far back as the days of Doom, PC gamers have had to manage installs. The difference with playing on the PC is that, unless you’re on a laptop, adding more storage as you need it is easy.
I’d still recommend bulking up your internal storage if at all possible. With the ever-dropping prices of SSDs, you don’t even need to sacrifice loading speeds for storage space.
Looking to the Future
Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem like it will carry into the next generation, at least at first. One of the hallmark features of both the new Xbox and PlayStation consoles is new SSD technologies that bring ultra-fast loading speeds that eclipse those on the new consoles.
These SSDs might be available as accessories for the new consoles, but they probably won’t be cheap, and they may not have as much storage as you need. Newer games are going to be bigger than ever, meaning we’ll need all the space we can get. Hopefully, they’re worth it.