As the gaming world knows, the 7th generation of console gaming is nearing it’s completion. A number of bargain hunters will probably begin looking into the systems they missed (self included) to experience the remaining gems before the next takes over. And normally, this process could wait till we could get bargains on the old hardware and games… but this generation is different. This generation, consoles took on a lot of PC features like digital sales and online patches. The problem with this is that being closed systems, once the system’s service goes offline, access to these pieces will no longer be available. And with the WiiU out now to be followed quickly by the next xbox and playstation, this will be an issue for collectors pretty quickly. This is a word of warning… and maybe to get an early start on what you might have missed out on.
With the WiiU already out, it is only fitting we start with the Wii for this discussion…. and ironically, I believe this will be the system that fairs the transition the best. True, the online service being turned off would cut users away from anything on the virtual console or downloadable titles, but anything you downloaded to the Wii will still work exactly as it had without issue. For these games, I just recommend getting an SD card and installing it all to this. It will increase initial loading times, but it will allow you to preserve your collection.
Disc based games, however, are exactly why I believe you will see these games survive the ages better then the console’s contemporaries. This is the only 7th gen console (handhelds not-withstanding) that did not need update patches for any game at all, meaning if you buy and use a game after the online service is shut-down, you will get the exact same experience you would have had you bought the game while it was available. Even system updates will work this way since Wii games come with the required patch on the disc. If for some reason you didn’t patch online before hand (or even bought a Wii aftermarket), you will have no issues here.
Overall, this system does an admirable job holding up, but digital games keep it from being perfect. So if you are interested in downloadable games, you might want to move now, but if a disc or two has your fancy, you can probably get the device whenever you like (assuming you don’t have the WiiU and it also playes WIi games).
The PS3, sadly, will not fair as well as the Wii in this department. Obviously it will have the same downloadable restrictions without PSN support. However, there are a few PSN games that require an online connection. Without PSN backing it, this will be gone and these titles (such as Double Dragon Neon) will no longer be playable, even if you downloaded it prior.
The discs, however, will be hurt worse. Like the Wii, PS3 games comes with the software update on the disc, so you will never have a compatibility issue by having an outdated version of the system software. But PS3 has the ability to update disc-based games via patching, which means that when PSN shuts down, you will no longer have access to the most recent version of any game you haven’t played on your system before, forcing you to deal with any bugs on the release disc (many of which this generation included day-1 patches, so there may be a lot of bugs no one saw on there).
For this system, if you plan on checking it out, I recommend grabbing it when you can, getting the games you are interested in, and running each once. You can play them when you are ready, but this is really the only way you are going to assure you experience the games as they were meant to be experienced…. fixes and all.
And sadly, we have a system here that will handle this transition the worst. While online games should not see the same restraint as a few PSN games and just stop working, they too will (obviously) cease being available as new downloads. They may require you to log into the system on the account that bought them, though, so you best make sure the last system you logged into with that account is the 360 before it goes offline, or you may lose access to those games.
But the real punishment on this system will be in disc-based games. Back when the system came out, it was designed to conserve it’s 20GB drive by only keeping the last 10 or so games played patched. It was a great idea back in the day to keep patches from cluttering the limited space available, but if you have ever gone back to an old 360 title and thought “what the hell? a new patch?” you were fooled by this. It was not downloading anything new. It was redownloading what it had deemed by your gaming habits as patches you didn’t need anymore. This is going to be HELL for anyone looking to play their older games in their final releases since it’s entirely likely the system deleted the patches and bugs they never new existed will show up.
Thankfully, newer games get around this restraint by saving patches with saved games, so not all libraries will be effected or decimated.
For this system, I do not know that there is a great solution. You will have to see what games handle patches which way for yourself, but now would be the time to get the system and start. But starting soon would be ideal. And be aware that you wont be able to preserve the experience on this system for everything.