Upgradeable hardware - A new way of keeping consoles from ageing
Another way of pushing in a new era of next-gen consoles would be upgradeable hardware. Console makers like Sony and Microsoft now have 10 year life cycles for current-gen consoles, yet technology evolves and leap-frogs so much quicker than this. My previous editorials have covered this already, so I won't delve into it too much, but anyone who knows tech knows 10 years with the same hardware is just far, far too long.
If we had upgradeable hardware - the life would be extended exponentially. Maybe something like a launch of an 8-core, 2GHz CPU with a GTX570 / HD 6970-level GPU, but maybe underclocked. Heck, even if they used AMD's upcoming APU-based products…
Every 6 - 12 months they could slowly increase clock speeds on CPU/GPU, increasing the power - this would allow newer games to have access to better hardware. We could have games on consoles every year looking better and better - where now, some newer games look worse, have shorter levels, or are shorter games in general.
This all relates to lazy developers, expensive games and most of all, hardware constraints. Take away the hardware constraints and give us a new pricing model and gaming would really jump forward.
Imagine sequels to games coming out looking 2 - 3 times as good, bigger levels, better AI, much better graphics and frame rates or 3D; the possibilities are endless. Consoles hit a never-ending brick wall years ago and we still have years left in current-gen consoles. This means games cannot step forward as a medium; we can't have more realistic graphics or fluid 60fps frame rates or anything that makes a new game stand out proud and claim that this is "the best game ever".
Upgraded consoles would push games forward - we would finally get realistic AI, bigger levels, realistic facial expressions, emotions, movement, graphics would jump with new much higher-resolution textures, shadows, lighting systems - again, the possibilities are endless.
Right now, we're limited to such under-powered consoles for today's over-powered gamers. Gamers want more, more, more - yet console gamers are happy with today's generation of hardware. This is only because they have a single option - consoles. Even if they moved to PCs, a console owner who spends ~$600 on a console does not want to spend $1000+ on a PC.
But a person spending $1000+ on a PC expects a better experience. Because development is done on consoles first and ported to PCs, PC gamers suffer. All they get is higher resolutions and sometimes anisotropic filtering options and anti-aliasing.
If consoles had upgradeable hardware we would see changes in not only how games look, but feel. A much deeper level of interactivity with the environment, realistic physics, cloth animation, facial animation, most of the points I touched on above - these are big additions to gaming.