For decades now, the game console market has progressed in a reliable pattern. Roughly every six or seven years, console makers would introduce new hardware expected to completely replace the old. After a short transitional period, support for the older hardware would dry up on the part of both developers and the console makers themselves. Everyone would move on.
This year's E3 has provided an important inflection point for that model. Both Sony and Microsoft are announcing new hardware intended to complement, rather than replace, their current consoles. It's a move that will have far-reaching implications for what console gaming looks like going forward. Goodbye to the game console as we know it. Hello to the tiered console platform.
Sony technically started things off, confirming days before E3 that the codenamed PlayStation 4 Neo would "sit alongside and complement the standard PS4" throughout that system's lifecycle. Microsoft took it even further at its press presentation Monday, announcing the codenamed Xbox One Scorpio as a six-teraflop workhorse that will support "true 4K gaming" and high-end virtual reality by the end of 2017.