A couple of things here:
The PS3 hardware was a mess, most of its launch games where pretty poor. From a graphical perspective. Once the hardware was harnessed, the looks and performance of its games improved dramticly. While I agree that is normal for most consoles(that they improve over the lifetime of the system), I do think that the PS3s improvement was dynamic and I don't believe we will see the same type of progression on either PS4 or X1. The reason is these system are X86 based. Basicly they are designed to be upfront accessible ... like PCs. Sure the games will improve. But I don't think it will be the same level of progression we saw this gen. Not to mention this gen was long(7 and 8 plus years). Most gens are 3-5 years. I think that matters too.
As for the inovations being both social and delivery. I fully believe that. The games aren't going to change next gen. Take a look at PSx/N64/Saturn backwards to Pong and vex. Each new gen allowed the games to do something that was unable to be done in the gen previously. Look at the line up of PSx games. Ridge Racer was impossible on a SNES/MD/NeoGeo. As was Mario64.
However from then, the leaps forward have been mostly cosmetic. The innovation wasn't in the games, but in how they were played. PS2/XB/GC/DC all had online games. XB started digital downloads that turned into XBLA and DLC. XB added Voice online. All innovative things that changed gaming. However the actual games? Pretty much the same games.
Same thing with this coming gen. Heck look at the line ups. Same old names. The res will increase, texture will be bumped up, longer view distance, and few more bells and whistles will be added graphicly. But speaking just of games...where is the innovation? It just isn't there.
Unless you look at more then just the games themselves. The PS4 share feature would dynamicly change the way we think about games. It is an innovation. The second screen gaming from WiiU Gamepad to Smartglass, it could be normal in three years for us to use tablets and phones to interact with our games in ways we weren't able to do before. That is innovation. And a few other bits and pieces will bring more to the table.
But the table will not be loaded with games that couldn't have been played on past hardware. How many launch games are also coming out for current gen systems? And unless the uptake is massive for next gen systems, I expect that trend to continue for another 2-4 years, maybe more. Hell even Rayman Legends which was a game designed for WiiUs innovative GamePad was held back and retooled to be on current gen systems.
The innovation in the actual gameplay is very insignificant in this coming gen. And I think there in lies one of its problems. Can Pubs and platform holders convince buyers that they need a new system to play the same games? Why should someone buy a PS4 or X1 for BF4/Asscred/CoD/FIFA/you name it, when the same game can be had on a system they already own? The WiiU didn't sell because it was too expensive and lacked a killer app. While the Gamepad is clearly an innovative step forward, it can not be understood until it is experienced. I am seeing the same thing right now for both new systems. A complete lack of killer must have Nextgen-exclusive experiences. Very few things stand out. Could be compounded by pubs not leaving a proven already established user base and market on current gen systems. Who bought a WiiU for CoD/Madden/AssCred/Sonic Racing? Not many folks, if they wanted those games they purchased them on hardware they already owned.
I think MS and Sony will do a better job of building hype and launch excitement than Nintendo did. But their systems are also more expensive. Still lack killer apps, and outside of the dedicated fan base it could be a tuff slow crawl to sell.
My point in all of this isn't some gloom and doom rant. Just a counter point to rabid fans that think new systems are the industries(esp the consoles demographics) saving grace. I still see mobile growing at a staggering rate, and I see PCs becoming the dominate choice for dedicated core gamers. If you reduce the casual footprint(Tablets/Phones) and the dedicated core footprint(PC), the consoles will prolly have a hard time matching the 250million plus units sold this past gen.
And the reasons why, are simple. Too expensive, consumer fatigue, lack of dynamic game innovation, and stiff competition. Add in the shift away from trip A big box games, lack of risk taking from investors, and we may well see indies continue to chip away at was once a dedicated console user base. And Indies thrive on Mobile/PC.
Just saying, I haven't seen much to convince me to invest in PS4 or X1. Even the next gen exclusive games don't blow me away. I am waiting awhile before buying this new gen(first time in game history I have done that). I know a lot of folks that are doing the same thing. And THAT speaks volumes as to weather or not PS4/X1 feel next gen to a lot of people.
And as for me thinking next gen will fail, I don't. Should sell well, I am expecting 5Million sales for PS4 and 3.5Million for X1 during the launch windows. Heck even WiiU did over 3Million. What I wonder about is at what rate the sales will level off after that. After the rabid dedicated fanbase get their systems, do the systems have the power to pull in impulse purchasers browsing Walmart on a Saturday afternoon? Right now, I highly doubt it.