Close
Report Comment to a Moderator Our Moderators review all comments for abusive and offensive language, and ensure comments are from Verified Users only.
Please report a comment only if you feel it requires our urgent attention.
I understand, report it. Cancel

The End of the Console Era?

The End of the Console Era?

Fri 22 Jun 2012 6:46am GMT / 2:46am EDT / 11:46pm PDT
Hardware

Rumours of the console's death have been greatly exaggerated

Every now and then, tech pundits and relentless self-promoters within the games industry strike upon a pinch of rhetorical gold dust - a statement that is simultaneously popular and simple, yet headline grabbing and controversial. They then proceed to parrot that statement with increasing force until everyone either accepts its truth, or simply gets so tired of constantly arguing with it that they allow it to pass by without much more than a sigh and a roll of the eyes.

You can spot these statements a mile off (and by extension, start seriously questioning the credibility or wisdom of the people making them), because they're normally sweeping generalisations about markets that are actually quite complex, they're almost always fundamentally technically illiterate, and they've got an alarming habit of taking the form of a death knell.

"If PC gaming died, it came back rather quickly as a surprisingly sprightly and rosy-cheeked zombie"

The most popular one for around a decade, for example, was the old industry favourite, "PC gaming is dead". Ding, dong, toll the funeral bell - except meanwhile, Blizzard was building the most successful and profitable game ever launched, exclusively on the PC platform. A proliferation of cheap, easy to use development tools were inspiring the creation of an indie game development scene that's gone from strength to strength both commercially and creatively. Valve's Steam was creating a distribution and sales network for software that still puts just about every other gaming platform to shame in terms of accessibility and convenience. If PC gaming died, it came back rather quickly as a surprisingly sprightly and rosy-cheeked zombie.

In that context, what are we to make of the present rush of people queuing up to pronounce console gaming dead? It's all over!, they sniff, wiping away crocodile tears and dreaming of the headlines their dramatic statement will generate. The next generation will be the last. Who needs consoles any more, when you'll have a phone more powerful than an Xbox 360, or a television packed to the gills with 3D chipsets and streaming gubbins, or a microwave oven that does a pretty damn reasonable job of playing Crysis?

1

As is generally the case with statements of this description, the claim that consoles are about to shuffle off the mortal coil is based on a superficial understanding of technological progress - but one which is not married to any deeper understanding of the technology or economics involved, or to any particular sense of imagination. The PC was "dying" because consoles were getting more powerful and going online, and piracy was rampant; all things which were true, but utterly outweighed by the pace of innovation and change which the PC market underwent. Similarly, consoles are "dying" because other devices are becoming increasingly powerful and going online; sound familiar?

In the case of consoles, it is absolutely undeniable that devices such as mobile phones and even televisions themselves are rapidly becoming more powerful, as extremely low-cost, high-powered chipsets are built into those devices. There is no question but that at some point in the next few years, TV sets are going to start integrating support for "Apps" of some description, which will make the existing TV gaming market (a niche area focused on low-powered puzzle games served through existing set-top boxes) look much like the old mobile gaming market was before the iPhone.

Does that mean the end for videogame consoles? No. Those predicting the death of the console are ignoring a few extremely important factors. For a start, your phone isn't your console - and even if you can connect a phone to a TV to play games of some description, the experience we're talking about is radically different. Most people who play console games today probably also play mobile phone games; the experiences are more complementary than competitive, and there's plenty of room in the market for both. The idea that mobile phone games will replace larger-scale entertainment experiences in the living room, rather than existing alongside them, is nonsense. One might equally argue that the existence of magazines negated the need for books.

"The idea that mobile phone games will replace larger-scale entertainment experiences is nonsense. One might equally argue that the existence of magazines negated the need for books"

But what of the much-vaunted "smart TV"? Let's face it, when most people confidently predict the death of the console, what they actually mean is "Apple is going to launch an Apple TV product which will demolish the console market". Once you've got a TV that's "smart", why would you ever need another box to sit underneath it playing games?

That point of view makes a number of extremely sweeping assumptions about both the gaming market and the television market - several of them demonstrably incorrect. For a start, it assumes that any Smart TV product will have games as a major focus in its design. This is no small assumption. Being a competitive gaming platform requires significant additional investment by the manufacturer over and above the hardware required to serve video and online content or run iPhone-level applications. Console-standard games are big, for a start, requiring very significant amounts of extra storage, as well as souped up 3D graphics hardware and, of course, a controller. You could just control it with your phone, in the manner of Microsoft's SmartGlass, but if a Smart TV platform is to be genuinely competitive for existing console gaming audiences (the 100 million or so consumers who have demonstrated ongoing willingness to buy dedicated gaming hardware and software), it'll need at least a widely supported reference controller design, so that developers building more traditional experiences have something to aim for.

Is that possible? Yeah, sure, but it'll require significant extra cost inside a box for which cost is a very important issue. Then you rapidly run into another brick wall - the replacement rate for televisions compared with the replacement rate for other consumer electronics devices.

How long have you had your phone? Most people among our tech-aware peers probably hold on to a phone for a maximum of two years. How about your games console? Those last for a generation of hardware - four or five years, generally. A little longer if you're Sony or Microsoft right now, a little shorter if you're Nintendo. Your laptop? Hard to gauge, but three or four years seems to be about right for most techy consumers. But your television? I've had mine, a Hitachi 1080p 42" LCD model, for six years, and have no intention of replacing it until next year at the earliest. When I bought it, it played PS2, GameCube and Xbox software. Right now, it plays Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3 software. By the time I replace it, I expect it to be happily displaying Wii U, PS4 and Xbox 720 games.

"The blunt reality is that Smart TV is a threat to console, but not a death-knell"

I don't think that's an unusual replacement cycle. I've seen figures for the UK which suggest a TV replacement cycle of upwards of 7 years for most consumers - and the old TV often goes into another room of the house rather than being thrown out entirely. In other words, the economics of televisions are quite different from the economics governing the boxes underneath them. We replace the boxes under our TVs more often by far than we replace our TVs. What happens when you make that box into an integral part of the TV itself? Simple - about three or four years after the "Smart" TV is purchased, the "Smart" bit gets turned off, replaced by a new box which goes under the TV set and is vastly smarter than the TV itself. You know what that new box is? In one form or another, it's a console.

The blunt reality is that Smart TV is a threat to console, but not a death-knell. Smart TVs that can run apps will probably be "good enough" as gaming devices for a certain proportion of the population, but for the core audience that keeps the high-def console market thriving, that simply won't be the case. The fact that you'll be able to play Peggle, or even Infinity Blade, on a chipset built into your TV won't stop gaming fans from wanting to buy the next Xbox tomorrow - and in a few years time that TV's smart chipset will look frankly archaic compared to cheap standalone boxes, reducing the TV once more to a dumb screen until such time as the upgrade cycle comes around again.

This isn't the end of an era - it's healthy, worthwhile competition, which will force console platform holders, publishers and developers to evolve and improve their offerings. Just as the PC gaming market which survived the cries of "bring out your dead!" during the past decade is notably different from the PC market of yesteryear, tomorrow's console market will be different, more diverse and probably more interesting than today's. But the tug of war between console, PC, mobile and (maybe) Smart TV isn't a zero-sum game. The consumer base is wider than ever; there's plenty of room for many different business models and types of content to survive and even thrive. Save your graveside speeches and your black armbands. There'll be no funeral for console gaming yet.

72 Comments

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
The main reason consoles originally came into prominence and killed off the Amiga and ST was because they acted as an anti piracy dongle. So publishers could actually get paid for their work. So all the good game were written for the consoles and none were written for the home computers.

Now new business models have come along that get round piracy in games by other means. This takes away the main justification for the existence of consoles.

The console market is collapsing. Right now. People are voting with their wallets and $60 is now regarded as far too much for a game. The only things that are keeping it going are legacy and impetus.

Consoles have been bad for gaming because their near monopoly walled gardens stifled creativity.

Posted:2 years ago

#1
Ha haaa ha ha - gotta love your zealotry Bruce.

But seriously, how many folks are going to buy/ upgrade towards a smart TV or 3d ready TV. In this current day and age, most young folks opt for a computer, netbook or monitor for portability that hooks up to various peripherals and consoles? The smart TV is not a killer console device, but will probably redefine the borders of various devices even so.

Social/ casual gaming are probably on a flatline at the moment due to relative shovel ware . I love some elements of casual gaming but I seriously doubt the next zyngas or world of tanks hits can be easily replicated. In fact, I would love to have a article that looks at the amount of failed new biz models, failed kickstarters to provide a objective analysis for the unwary game designer thinking of making a beeline to profits overnight

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany

846 732 0.9
Can't disagree more Bruce. Specially with the sentence "Consoles have been bad for gaming because their near monopoly walled gardens stifled creativity." I don't even need to explain it considering how many great studios and tittle have started on the downloadable services of console systems.

Also... "People are voting with their wallets and $60 is now regarded as far too much for a game" where did you read that exactly?, based on what? in the millions of copies sold by Uncharted, GoW, or the CoD series on consoles? also... have you checked the prices of PC games lately? all the big ones are charging 60$/€ in most of cases.

So, with an average of 100k consoles sold each month after 7 years of this generation I think those affirmations are wrong in general, and this rumors about consoles going to disappear do not obey to logic as much at to the wish of a destructive PC fanboy wish.

Sorry to inform you, but consoles will not disappear since the market is a proof that people are still buying them, the fact that you wish for them to disappear (I will never understand such mentality) is not gonna change that reality.

Update your information friend.

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd

343 812 2.4
You can spot these statements a mile off (and by extension, start seriously questioning the credibility or wisdom of the people making them), because they're normally sweeping generalisations about markets that are actually quite complex, they're almost always fundamentally technically illiterate, and they've got an alarming habit of taking the form of a death knell.
Sounds familiar.

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Zan Toplisek

44 16 0.4
@ Bruce: So it's all about preventing piracy when it comes to the business models? Wow.

While I agree the traditional business model is broken - consumers should definitely have more choices with how to pay for the product, especially a digital one, like games - who's to say it won't change with the next-gen consoles? Who's to say the big 3 won't support other models as well? It boggles my mind when so-called professionals make these assumptions.

Now the business models are only one part of the whole equation, but it's the one that gets most attention when it comes to consoles vs. mobile/social games.

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
Console game sales have been declining over the last 4 years and over the last year sales have fallen off a cliff. Fact.

Meanwhile Angry Birds alone has probably been downloaded more times than the number of consoles that have ever been made (both just over a billion). The world will probably manufacture over a billion smartphones next year as companies like Huawei and ZTE ramp up.

The componentry that makes a TV into a smart TV cost very little, so soon all new TVs will be smart. The current generation of TV are mainly LCD, which is an interim technology. OLED is vastly superior in so many ways that most people will soon be upgrading which will rapidly put over a billion smart TVs into homes.

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

528 788 1.5
@Bruce - How many times do you have to come out with that tired old line about "the only reason for a console was an anti-piracy dongle"? How about the level playing field? Non-techy people who don't know what "minimum requirements" even means who can buy games and know it will work? Small enough to fit under your TV and sit playing it on the sofa? Consoles exist because they're accessible and open the games market beyond the technologically aware to the mass market. I don't believe I'm telling you something you don't know here, I think you just enjoy trolling, and it's really tiresome.

Posted:2 years ago

#7
Positioning smartphone as the next big thing in gaming is totally at odds with the piracy argument, Bruce - iOS and Android are rife with it. How do you square that circle?

What about the fact that PS1 and PS2 - the most successful, profitable era in Sony's gaming history - were both chipped within *months* of release to allow for playing games off burned media?

Posted:2 years ago

#8
Advanced tech can disappear overnight due to resource shortages or natural/ man made calamity.

For this great next leap forth, rare earth metals are in rare supply due to Chinese monopoly, advance smart tech beholden to Japanese R&D which is beholden to nuclear energy for 90% energy needs, due to no alternative means secondary to US cutting off oil supply and triggering the Japanese involvement in ww2. tsunamis and earthquakes will too ably be felt more, we are just awaiting the next big one of and to top it off the sun is awakeni more, thus exposing the earth to multiple solar flares - or what I liken towards a spit roast kebab effect.

We Do not have great Plan Bs for this as a global force. So rant on all you want about cheap components but the fact is, it is only affordable if large efficient high tech manufacturing plants exist and is sustained.

Any dip and we are back into the dark ages and our biz models respectively

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Felix Leyendecker Senior 3D Artist, Crytek

184 204 1.1
And then what? Millions of people will play angry birds on their OLED smart TVs and consoles will die out?

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Nicholas Lovell Founder, Gamesbrief

211 254 1.2
I agree with much of your analysis, but less with your conclusion.

I wrote about the death of the console in a book proposal three years ago. The issue then was not smart TVs, or technology. It was economics.

The business model at the heart of dedicated consoles is "razors and razor blades", as you have written before. That means that companies have to invest perhaps $5 billion in launching a new console (design, building new factory lines, physical manufacturing, marketing, purchasing exclusives or developing their own must-have games).

That was fine (ish) when the console model dominated the market. It might take several years, ut you could be reasonably sure that you would eventually (ish) recoup your investment from the $7 royalty you could take from third party publishers.

It is the economics of this type of console that is under threat. You don't need *everyone* to stop buying console games. You just need enough people to make the razor/razorblade model no longer viable.

"The death of the console" is much more about the death of the current way of doing business than about the death of particular piece of hardware.

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Zan Toplisek

44 16 0.4
@ Bruce: Either you're delusional or a troll.

Rovio recorded "only" $106.3 million of revenues in 2011 (not just from the appa, obviously), while the top 3 publishers are reporting billions in revenue each year. Can't compare apples with oranges (read: downloads with $60 purchases).

Also, your TV theory is incredible as well (in a super bad way, of course).

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@Felix Leyendecker

No, people will play games much like the current console games on their smart TVs because that is what the publishers will make.
But they will play all sorts of other stuff as well because it won't be a walled garden. So creativity will flourish.
Someone in China could write a game using Unity and the same day someone in Bolivia could play it.

Unity is revolutionising game development, allowing games to be written in a fraction of the time by far smaller teams.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Bruce Everiss on 22nd June 2012 9:16am

Posted:2 years ago

#13

Nicholas Lovell Founder, Gamesbrief

211 254 1.2
@#13
If you are from the faculty of economics, I'm sure you realise that revenues are not the key measure of economic success. You need to factor in profitability (Rovio's margins peaked a little above 90%. They have fallen significantly now, but are still very high) and capital employed.

While the new businesses are still very much smaller than the traditional businesses, the successful ones are higher margin than traditional businesses with much less capital at risk and hence an extremely attractive risk/reward ratio.

This will continue to attract capital into these sectors and away from the traditional ones.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Lovell on 22nd June 2012 9:24am

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

528 788 1.5
Going back to the article, Rob mentions the average time to upgrade to a new TV. Don't forget that high definition and TVs that are thin and flat are a reasonably new thing, so the recent results are affected by the fact that people recently had a reason to upgrade. Now what reason do we have? 3D? No one cares about it. Even higher def? Current resolutions are easily good enough. Smart TVs? Why bother when it's far easier and cheaper to replace a small box or even a tiny dongle and plug it into a screen you already have? There's nothing left to innovate in TVs, so the smart TV is just like 3D - it's a desperate attempt to appear like things are moving forward. I won't replace my TV unless it breaks. There is no good reason to build technology into the TV itself.

Posted:2 years ago

#15
From the uni student point of view, a good number don't even own a TV or watch a tv much to BBCs chagrin I suspect. It's all streaming media on monitors and laptops these days, smart TVs will need to be given away free for it to make a significant impact on the current consumers austerity mindset

Posted:2 years ago

#16
I'm a bit confused by the article's premise. Who exactly is predicting the end of the console era and suggesting that Smart TVs will prove more popular? Are we predicting the end of dedicated games machines or the specific core games we currently play on them?

Once thing's for sure, within the next 5-10 years, inevitably there will be fundamental change.

Quite apart from the economics, there are some very smart people - John Carmack for one - making the argument that we've already hit the GHz wall and it's only a matter of time before "cost per transistor" plateaus, making true next-gen leaps in processing power far more difficult to engineer.

And to adopt David Perry's argument, what if your SmartTV can stream core games over the internet without the need to ever upgrade your hardware again? Surely that dovetails rather nicely with the analogy that you only upgrade your display once every 5-10 years?

I'd say the infrastructure isn't there yet, but it's only a matter of time until it is. In the UK, within ten years we've gone from 2mbps to 80mbps in terms of what constitutes a top-end home broadband connection.

I can very much see a scenario where "cloud with subscription" replaces the current console business model, leaving those eager for the local experience moving across to PC where they can roll their own hardware.

Xbox and PlayStation as brands won't be going anywhere, they'll simply evolve onto the most suitable platform. As Microsoft and Sony typically lose billions before they even start to recoup their costs I am sure they will welcome it.

Posted:2 years ago

#17

Will Luton

8 1 0.1
I feel very uncomfortable with this article. Firstly I think it's wrong to presume on anyone's motive (specifically named or not) without a solid background of evidence. I do not like the suggestion that anyone making such prediction are either egotists or misinformed. Debate is a very healthy part of our industry and press, but let's give a benefit of the doubt.

Secondly, it is fine to decry assumption. However in such a situation a counter argument must be assumption free in order to avoid hypocrisy. The biggest one is that of quality. To compete with console, you must do console.

Napster didn't hurt the music biz because MP3 was better quality than CD, but instead that it was easier and cheaper (a better value proposition). So there's historical market evidence that quality is not the only motive for sells. It's an assumption which is flaky.

This then undermines the argument that those spouting console demise are making "extremely sweeping assumptions".

Posted:2 years ago

#18
This article is legit, but seem to not consider Tv Cloud Gaming Enabled...
That would be the solution to all the cost issues and also the substitution rate due to obsolescence wouldn't matter anymore.

Although clodu gaming is still an acerb solution that need improvement.

Posted:2 years ago

#19

Zan Toplisek

44 16 0.4
@15: I know, you're very right to point that out. I was just trying to show that console games are (still) generating some serious money (I know EA had huge expenses which made the net income very small in relation to total revenue, Ubisoft and Activision were better off, especially the latter) and that you can't compare downloads with purchases (or games made, as he said).

I'm in a lecture, so didn't have much time to write a good reply :).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Zan Toplisek on 22nd June 2012 10:00am

Posted:2 years ago

#20

Matt Walker Production Coordinator, Capcom

41 23 0.6
Very enjoyable article, thank you for that. I especially thought the magazine/book comparison was clever.

Posted:2 years ago

#21

Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd

472 480 1.0
Smart TV's will kill off gaming like Videotron's casual cable games killed off absolutely nothing.

Posted:2 years ago

#22

James Prendergast Research Chemist

741 439 0.6
@Bruce:

The only thing I would mention with regards to one of your posts is in response to this:

Console game sales have been declining over the last 4 years and over the last year sales have fallen off a cliff. Fact.

I think looking at consumer spending habits on relatively expensive pastimes over the course of a major economic recession and proclaiming that these are the prevailing trends is wrong. You could quite easily look at the preceeding four years (or even the four years before that!) and come to the opposite conclusion. People will spend less when they have less money and they will be more easily persuaded to part with smaller amounts of cash than large amounts of cash in that situation also. It doesn't mean that is what consumers prefer - it's just their current economic reality and it does affect their spending habits.

Assuming that there is not a significant double-dip recession ongoing (no idea how the situation will play out, tbh!) then consuming and spending habits will change from the generally austere measures adopted over the last four years. Spending on entertainment will increase along with average cost of purchases.

So, in four years time (assuming no double-dip!) will we be hearing about the impending death of the smartphone app developers due to the resurgence of full-price console games?

Edited 3 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 22nd June 2012 11:04am

Posted:2 years ago

#23

Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd

472 480 1.0
Look at this chart

Let's examine the facts shall. Wii comes out on the fall of 2006 after 5 years of $11Bn annual US sales, market increases to 22Bn in two years, and here we are 5 years after the launch of the Wii (that greatly increased the market size just as the NES did) and we are still 50% up from the 2001-2005 plateau and the Wii-U is to be released at the fall of this year.

Am I missing something?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Keldon Alleyne on 22nd June 2012 11:17am

Posted:2 years ago

#24

Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd

343 812 2.4
@Nick Lovell

I wonder if it would cost as much to launch a new platform now as it did in the previous gen? Some things that have changed include a significant reduction in the degree to which you'd have to subsidise the hardware (and hence the initial RRP), and a reduced emphasis on securing exclusives (as opposed to just support on an equal footing with competitors) from third parties. Plus you could theoretically go down the Apple/Google/Steam route and greatly encourage all users enter their credit card details, or sign up to a subscription package.

But I guess on the other hand market fragmentation would make even the most attractive dedicated gaming device struggle to reach PS2/NDS penetration.

Posted:2 years ago

#25

Justin Biddle Software Developer

163 493 3.0
It strikes me that a lot of those who proclaim that console gaming is dead are people who develop mobile games. Hence people with a vested interest to claim the end of the console era. It's not a deliberate attempt at lying or anything I think, just their own strong desires for the future allowing them to see only one possibility.

Posted:2 years ago

#26

Thomas Dolby Project Manager / Lead Programmer, Ai Solve

342 293 0.9
How did I know that most of the comments in this article would be arguments with Bruce haha. Even that first paragraph made me instantly think of gi.biz's very own mobile crusader.

Posted:2 years ago

#27

Brian Smith Artist

198 94 0.5
@ Bruce - The main reason consoles became prevalent was due to price v performance. The games on consoles were markedly better and the overall expenditure for the customer was smaller (at least initially) . There was also an ease of use to consoles that allowed them to exploit the market much deeper than home computers. Piracy control was a good side effect to the business model but I don't think you could say it was the defining characteristic of their success.

Posted:2 years ago

#28

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@Brian Smith

Are you trying to tell me that the 8bit NES outperformed the 16 bit Amiga?

Posted:2 years ago

#29

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@ Justin Biddle

I have worked extensively on boxed console games. And on cassette games and on MMOs.

But I chose to come and work at a digital distribution gaming company because it is the future. The whole idea of shipping plastic and cardboard around the world is just ridiculous at so many levels.

Posted:2 years ago

#30

Caspar Field CEO & Co Founder, Wish Studios Ltd

41 94 2.3
Not so much of a problem for GameStop in the US http://www.google.com/finance?fstype=ii&q=NYSE:GME - doing okay considering the MASSIVE WORLDWIDE RECESSION.

Posted:2 years ago

#31

Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend

292 704 2.4
What makes me laugh the most is that some narrow minded people automatically assume that a 'gamer' is one type of person, period. They don't take into account that there are in fact many types of gamers that all hold different ideals and visions of the experience they want.

The truth of the matter is that different people use different entertainment devices for different reasons and gamers come in many flavours. To say that product X will die because product Y offers a similar experience just goes to show how out of touch with reality that person is.

Just because 4x4's exist, doesn't mean that every sports car owner will rush out and sell their Ferrari to buy a Land Rover. Most likely situation is that they would buy both and enjoy both for what they are. Just like a mobile device/smart tv can be enjoyed along-side a console.

Live and let live I say.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 22nd June 2012 1:11pm

Posted:2 years ago

#32

Marcel Vlasblom Senior Consultant, Capgemini

7 0 0.0
I think your missing out on the fact that most people play games on a secondary screen, the smart-TV you mention is family property ... and will entertain the whole household, where the one(s) connected to the console(s) have a secondary role.

Nice to use internet while enjoying tv shows ... check IMDB while enjoying a film etc.. ... but I think that's the role of our tablets/pads/mobile

but the whole family gaming in front of the main screen is more incidental even after the Wii-Era ... (Move and Kinect included) ...

Gaming has been part of the living room since Pong (mid 70's) ... but it never got to be the primary feed on the main screen ... and IMHO it never will ..

Mom still wants to watch Oprah .. Dad the News, sports, films etc.

Sure they will check-out the possibilities of the game options on your smart-TV .. but it's far too early to stop the console era ... this is not the Vectrix/Intellivision era ... therefore the consoles are too widely accepted ... it will take another console generation before we will be able to fully implement it in 'the cloud' ....

Also there are too many types of gamers... its not 1 type ... the majority of console gamers won't be seen on Facebook's Farmville ... but all will try wordfeud or Draw-something for a while ... its like going out to eat ... we're not going to eat Sushi or McDonalds every single day ....

Variety is the spice of life ...right?


@Darren Adams: I fully agree :)

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Marcel Vlasblom on 22nd June 2012 1:29pm

Posted:2 years ago

#33

John Bye Lead Designer, Future Games of London

486 457 0.9
Irony. Definition of.

First paragraph of article - "Every now and then, tech pundits and relentless self-promoters within the games industry strike upon a pinch of rhetorical gold dust - a statement that is simultaneously popular and simple, yet headline grabbing and controversial. They then proceed to parrot that statement with increasing force until everyone either accepts its truth, or simply gets so tired of constantly arguing with it that they allow it to pass by without much more than a sigh and a roll of the eyes."

First comment on article - Bruce repeating his "consoles are just an anti-piracy dongle" line for the nth time.

Posted:2 years ago

#34

Teut Weidemann Consultant Online Games, Ubisoft Germany

51 23 0.5
Great article. Thanx for the introduction about the "I know stuff wannabes". I did a talk about that similar topic on a Geran dev conference, if anyone is interested:

http://www.slideshare.net/Teut986/pc-gaming-is-dead-oh-really

Posted:2 years ago

#35

Teut Weidemann Consultant Online Games, Ubisoft Germany

51 23 0.5
The main reason consoles originally came into prominence and killed off the Amiga and ST was because they acted as an anti piracy dongle.
Maybe because the games were better on consoles too. Exclusive content too.
Now new business models have come along that get round piracy in games by other means. This takes away the main justification for the existence of consoles.
Although piracy is one reason the other is that your gaming PC won't work on your TV in the living room
The console market is collapsing. Right now. People are voting with their wallets and $60 is now regarded as far too much for a game. The only things that are keeping it going are legacy and impetus.
Yes, they voted a couple of Billion for a single game called Call of Duty. Find that on the PC. Doesnt exist.
Consoles have been bad for gaming because their near monopoly walled gardens stifled creativity.
If consoles are bad for gaming the trash on the PC was good then? Consoles has quailty checks and there are more hits on console than on PC - minus MMO's.

Posted:2 years ago

#36

Nick Parker Consultant

306 186 0.6
Lots of good stuff here but 2 comments to think about:

Console software sales have been in decline since 2009 but only because the behemoth of Wii which had its best years in 2007/08/09 has fallen away - PS3 and Xbox 360 software sales have been tracking flat or positive in most markets in the last few years.

The future will be about cloud gaming which will proliferate core games through the browser without the need for huge hard drives. So SMART TVs can be dumb in that respect but they will need a neat UI while consoles do not have to experience as significant a step change in tech as was, say, the PS3 over the PS2, so no need for such a large investment this time. Consoles will have a part to play in a few years, although smaller, but may ironically be one of those key platforms to push streamed games through the cloud.

Posted:2 years ago

#37
The problem with cloud is, some developers do not opt for a PLAN B mode.

Now, on steam - some games can be okayed in a offline mode, which is great. But look at Diablo 3 - not enough forward planning to think about power cuts or net connection issues, just like some folks think there arent hiccups in technology advances. We are already at the cusp of this generation hardware - the next will surely be beyond physical hardware eg.inprints, holowear, projected screens, thought, dreams and the original virtual reality

Posted:2 years ago

#38

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,196 1,176 0.5
As someone speaking for the individual, not the crowd, too much of this new tech and its "advantages" are just going to price out budget-minded consumers and possibly shut others out of gaming entirely.

In case you don't know anyone who lives in such areas, there are small to huge chunks of the US of A that STILL aren't broadband enabled or get less than solid internet service. Saying what amounts to "It's the future already! C'mon! EVERYONE has high speed connections!" or "Hey kids, this streaming, smart ass TV, no disc future is gonna be great!" is just ignoring the fact that a good deal of consumers who aren't up to the latest tech trends will be shit out of luck because an industry wants to rush everyone ahead and not take a long look at helping solve a particularly stupid problem that's going to end up affecting a lot more than we think sooner than some of use want to think about.

Posted:2 years ago

#39

Craig Bamford Writer/Consultant

40 54 1.4
Interesting that Rob talked about "the complexity of the market" without ignoring a rather important factor: The market's broke.

Seriously, this is ludicrous. The problem isn't Smart TVs or replacement cycles. The problem is that with a collapsing western middle class, it's the height of absurdity to believe that people are going to blithely purchase a new $400 console that displays graphics somewhat nicer than the old one, just so that they can play "razors and handles" with an endless stream of DLC-choked sixty-dollar brown-and-bloom milshooters.

If they're going to spend $400 on a device, it'll be something that can do more than one thing. And while, yes, MS and Sony have been positioning their existing devices that way, it doesn't open up any sort of market for their new devices. Sure, MS' secret weapon has been Netflix, but Netflix is going to work on 360 just as well in five years as it does now. No upgrade's required. So no upgrade's likely to happen.

No, if they're going to upgrade something, it'll be a multifunction device. It could be their PC, which is an excellent games platform now; or their phone/tablet, which are becoming excellent game platforms. It doesn't have to be their console. All you need is a wireless controller and you've answered all of Fahey's real objections. If he thinks it'll just be Angry Birds forever, he's no wiser than the people that thought that PC gaming was dead.

Posted:2 years ago

#40

Robert Barrow Programming (AI), Web Development, Security (Pentesting, Recovery)

27 18 0.7
I think it's easy to forget that consoles aren't just about games any more. They've grown to become your portal into a digital world that far surpasses their origins. Consoles aren't going to disappear and they aren't going to be reliant on just games for revenue. I can see mobile games and console games converging when mobile tech eventually gets good enough. DUST541 and Eveonline are the first signs, when there is a phone or tablet equivalent that can interact with their bigger brothers and provide an extra layer of social media interaction then they will finally be comparable.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Robert Barrow on 22nd June 2012 5:52pm

Posted:2 years ago

#41

Robert Mac-Donald Game Designer, Lethe Games

82 117 1.4
Consoles stand right between PC and mobile. That is the problem with them.

They can't do everything a PC does, their games don't have mods, and they have this culture of relying on gamepad alone. But they aren't mobile as well.

The only thing consoles have going on is easy to setup and price.

But nowdays that PC is not forcing you to make yearly updates, and in the end you probably pay less overall with a PC instead of PC + Console (because buying PC games is cheaper at this moment), there is not really a point in buying a next gen console. Its a luxury. An extra to play some exclusive titles that are there to force you into buying the console.

If we start getting more pre-made PCs that aren't expensive for gaming, that would also take away the only advantage of a console, easy to setup, while making the price disparity even greater in favor of PCs.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Robert Mac-Donald on 22nd June 2012 6:06pm

Posted:2 years ago

#42

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,287 2,507 1.1
For all the arguments I see for and against consoles, some of you people fail to grasp the most important factor.

People like consoles.

Posted:2 years ago

#43

Kevin Patterson musician

187 103 0.6
Amen at what Jim just wrote. I love my PC, tablet, and smartphone, but i prefer a console for my main gaming exp. Consoles arent dying anymore than PC games were dying 5 years ago, and I completely agree with the first paragraph of this article, its funny that now its consoles are dying when before it was consoles are killing the PC.

I do agree with Bruce though that the standard $60 price point needs to die, especially on new IP that may not have a massive audience. I am far more likely to take a chance on a new IP that i am waffling on if the price is right. Games like Skyrim and COD can afford the normal retail price tag, games like Beyond good and evil obviously couldn't.

Posted:2 years ago

#44

Rob Craig Instructor / Writer

21 5 0.2
I enjoyed this article. I do wish that more attention were given to cloud gaming. The topic of cloud gaming is very much a big part of what I am researching this summer and fall. And while I have much data to retrieve, the data I have already processed indicates that at least the US is not ready for cloud gaming. Not the word "not ready" - I mean it in an infrastructure sense. In fact its a mess. Our player consumer base is fragmented in three very different categories of internet connectivity and much of it divided from urban and rural areas. While this brings a point of agreement to Fahey's article regarding support for longevity of consoles, it should also be noted that there is a potential customer base, perhaps a larger one than most assume, that simply cannot take advantage of any cloud computing. Any dependencies on broadband (even 128K slow speeds)in hardware design alienates these potential buyers. Just something else to pour into the blender on this thread.......

Posted:2 years ago

#45

Nuttachai Tipprasert Programmer

79 60 0.8
Console game sales have been declining over the last 4 years and over the last year sales have fallen off a cliff. Fact.
Where did you get this fact? Last time I checked, 3DS was out performed NDS in term of its first year sale figure. And CoD 3 is the fastest selling game in the series. And both of them was just happened like ... last year.
But I chose to come and work at a digital distribution gaming company because it is the future. The whole idea of shipping plastic and cardboard around the world is just ridiculous at so many levels.
Maybe you never heard of this news (or maybe you already heard but you are too arrogant to believe), but, both Sony and MS are planing about making their next console being download only. And I think you might not believe this, but, Sony and MS already had their online market places called PSN and XBL since ... 6 years ago. So, your argument about console will die because they are using deprecated medium is quite a bit illogical.

Posted:2 years ago

#46
Bruce and myself, and others come from a time when home computing established the premiss that gaming was... fun! American took some time to grab the computer game bug, but eventually did so; but it was console gaming that created a universal industry.

As Bruce stated, the consoles offered a means of content control. Nintendo showed a path to mix game and properties in one profitable (controllable) package - where as Atari had had problems coming up with a upgradeable platform. Many forget the high revenue generated by licensed duplication, licensed packaging and distribution for the manufacturers/agents (a revenue they do not want to loose whatever the cost).

And that seems to be the issue, where the PC boys have embraced technological change and upgraded accordingly, we see the console boys stumble from one next generation to the other - Gen-7 has proven a difficult (if not profitable) upgrade but the cat is out of the bag on their future path.

There is other ways to protect property and the need for a console 'dongle' is passing (opportunity spoilt by greedy manufacturers that underperformed). But the fundamental reason is that the trade has been caught out on the lie - players see that DLC is being hindered by the trade so they can keep ramping up the game prices - the whole Street Fighter Vs Tekken content on disk fiasco the last nail in the coffin.

If it is true that the majority of the E3 demos run on PC SDK will be reduced in quality when finally fielded onto the console, the revolt from the players could be the final death knell that so many executives are worried about - all that said, things will never be the same - no matter how many rumors of Dreamcast2's the game media can create!

Posted:2 years ago

#47

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,287 2,507 1.1
People still like consoles.

Console makers still like making consoles.

Until those two factors change, consoles will not go away.

Posted:2 years ago

#48

Nick Ferguson Senior Producer, Microsoft

49 11 0.2
Aside from a (relative) handful of first-party exclusives, there are few console titles that are not readily available on other platforms - most notably PC.

Any yet, people continue to buy and play titles on console formats in vast numbers.

Is this just a result of habit, a transitional blip, or proof that the "box under the TV that just works" has a lot more appeal than many pundits seem to give it credit for?

Whereas certain business models and development practices are in the process of changing ("dying" is a little melodramatic for my tastes), I see a rosy future for consoles - as long as platform holders make smart choices.

Posted:2 years ago

#49

Doug Paras

117 61 0.5
@Bruce Everiss You don't understand consumers very well do you, people like to own a hard copy for one, it makes them feel more secure. Second: the Internet isn't wide spread enough or powerful enough to support digital distribution world wide.

Posted:2 years ago

#50

Teut Weidemann Consultant Online Games, Ubisoft Germany

51 23 0.5
This is ridiculous. The current consoles are at their end of the lifecycle and of course sales are low, as they have been at that part of a lifecycle in the past.

So why should consoles die only because one generation dies. The height of each console cycle was always in the middle, afterwards its declining. Yes, this means 2009 for most consoles, depending on their release.

This doesn't mean the next one will fail, it only takes 2 years, like all console generations before.

People forget how it was with SNES, N64, PS1, PS2, XBOX, and now.

Posted:2 years ago

#51
What I'd love to gaze into the future is whether there will be this one singular universal/platform agnostic USB controller that works on any major console/set up box TV

Posted:2 years ago

#52
@Doug, 'NETFLICKS'!

Posted:2 years ago

#53

Chris Clarke Staff Writer, TheSixthAxis

2 0 0.0
Odd article

Talking about SmartTV gaming as being either the often crappy built in games or requiring huge investment to play console-class games locally

If this article was written last year I could understand it, but Gaikai & OnLive have risen to a certain prominance since then and there's nothing stopping high spec gaming being played on relatively dumb devices... This does away with the upgrade cycle Rob talks about too, since upgrading will be done server side meaning all the latest games will be possible as long as your TV is capable of something as simple as a YouTube stream

Posted:2 years ago

#54

Jamie Knight International Editor in Chief, Playnation

65 28 0.4
@Bruce

instead we should do what....exactly? Join you in Go Bang Social? Personally I prefer a greater chalenge from my gaming experience, and so, it would seem, do the millions upon millions of console gamers who constantly 'vote with their wallets' and purchase the latest titles with some of the most in depth, interactive and involving gameplay.

You enjoy your mobile apps, mate, I'll stick with my PC and my 'anti piracy dongles'. I know which one of us has the better experience.

Oh, and the only reason that the mobile apps are so cheap is because they have no substance. Just because there are a lot of people playing them does not put them at the top of their game. If thats the case then McDonalds is now the choice gourmet menu for the free world. Once the actual mobile platforms are capable of running AAA titles ( smartTV's included ) then they too will be £40 a pop ( or even more by that time ).

The only reason no-one pirates mobile games is simple. But maybe its better if I put it this way: If PC and console games are the latest album from Kings of Leon then mobile game apps are the bargain basement Max Bygraves edition of 'you need hands' ( and who in their right mind would even want to pirate that crap? )

Oh, one more thing...OLED's? OLEDS? You must be trolling!? OLED's are so expensive, as perfectly demonstrated in the Vita, and because of that FACT Sony have now seen their Vita price tag making the 'wallet voters' avoid them like the plague.

I know you like your apps and mobile devices, Bruce, but seriosuly mate get over this 'genre busting-genre defining' delusion. You name me ONE 'real gamer' who even switches on a mobile app over their PC or 'anti piracy dongle' when they are in the comfort of their own home. You are living in a dream world mate

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jamie Knight on 24th June 2012 3:46pm

Posted:2 years ago

#55
+1 jamie. hear hear!

Posted:2 years ago

#56

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,287 2,507 1.1
I second that.

While consoles may have come into existences as an anti-piracy dongle, to claim that that is their purpose today is completely inane. Actually, I don't even consider anti-piracy as their original design intention to begin with given that the very first consoles were single game consoles and PC's didn't even hit the market until 1977.

And to further add to the OLED debate, even if they didn't have the insane pricing, we are not about to have another TV revolution like we did with HDTV. All that will happen is eventually all HDTV's with have OLED as the panel technology just as what happened with plasma to LCD to LED LCD. They are evolutions not revolutions and will not cause everyone to replace their still very capable HDTV.

Posted:2 years ago

#57
We see the pipe (internet) as a means to deliver content rather than the incongruous retail model.

Make this statement and you are attacked by publishers and studios who seem to support the retail model under protest?

You can not hold back the inevitable tide of change, and it is not smart to attack those that propose an alternative route.

Vested interest anyone?

Posted:2 years ago

#58

Luis Morales Public relations, Med Mercs

51 1 0.0
Just because there is this "Death Of The Consoles" that the press, media, and some companies that are pushing the buzz! Doesn't mean it is all coming to an end. What this means to Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft is very simple. They have to re-invent themselves and push innovation (Just like Samsung is using it's TV's) to offer gaming in the cloud. Guys, This "BS" of the death of the consoles is none sense!
Yeah, we are in the edge of another generation coming, but all of this is just the beginning of the end of a new and awesome era to come.

Posted:2 years ago

#59
The more things change, the more things stay the same.

I reckon, even when they eventually stream live content into our optics nerves, there will be a "console version" of sorts repackaged as some immersive sensory deprived casket that provides a seamless immersion that allows one to not be able to differentiate between the game world vs the dreamworld/real life...

Posted:2 years ago

#60

Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd

472 480 1.0
... and inside that game world I'm sure they'll eventually create physical games machines, and again come up with the idea of streaming live content into our virtual optical nerves, until someone just admits plugging a tape into a cassette drive and waiting for it to load was a much more memorable experience than playing Angry Birds and Farmville for the first time.

Posted:2 years ago

#61

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,287 2,507 1.1
Streaming content is fantastic but also highly problematic compared to a console.

Is the latency problem fixed in all markets that consoles are sold? No. In fact, very few markets have a nationwide a latency low enough to replicate the console experience through a stream.

Until the overwhelming majority of markets have high bandwidth and low latency adequate enough to replicate or exceed the experience of a local machine, consoles will exist.

Stream may be the future but that is still the future and THAT future still has a long way to go to get here.

Posted:2 years ago

#62

Antony Carter Senior Programmer, Epic Games

85 47 0.6
Erm How does a smart TV, differ to a console, is it not just a TV with a console built into it, with a propriatory store from the TV manufacturer, then followed by all the headaches of PC Mobile gaming, where newer model's have different processors inside them, except for unlike phones that people upgrade every couple of years, people will be stuck with these out of date tele's for 10+ years.

Buying the right TV in the future sounds like more of a nightmare than ever!!

Convergence on mobile devices is clearly a good thing as they need to be "Mobile", i dont really need an all in 1 device for my house, just cant see how it will ever replace modern gaming.

Internet TV's will clearly effect how we consume TV and Film, but games will only every be a side show till streaming games is a mass market solution(which it currently certainly isnt).

Posted:2 years ago

#63

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
#64
On a interesting side note, Sony and Panasonic just shook hands on developing future OLED TVs
[link url=""]
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18576484[/link]
Electronic manufacturing giants Sony and Panasonic have agreed to join forces to manufacture panels for TVs and large-sized displays.

The two firms said they would start mass production of organic light emitting diode (OLED) panels from 2013.

Posted:2 years ago

#65

Ben Furneaux Designer, Turbulenz Limited

116 55 0.5
Well this is all getting a bit silly. Let's remember that nobody has a big switch marked consoles/no-consoles that they're going to suddenly switch in the next year.

Gamers will go to where the best experience is. That may be a physical console in 10 years, or it may be a cloud based streaming service. It might be that those are the same thing — SHOCK TWIST, we're ALL RIGHT!

What's certain is we're not talking about the industry today today, we're talking about tomorrow. Check out the supposed latency specs for GeForce Grid (http://androidandme.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/geforce-grid-1.jpg). If true, it's quite impressive and certainly up to core gamer standards.

Taking the above tech into account, in my mythical unicorn future, would a core gamer buy a games console if he/she could use a cloud service get better graphics, instant access, same or better latency and not have to pay hundreds of pounds for a console. Now imagine that service is offered by Microsoft / Xbox and available across TV, tablet, phone, fridge, whatever. Suddenly the idea of a physical console is not so appealing.

That is my mythical unicorn future, but it is a future we're potentially headed towards so let's weigh the scales fairly.

As with all digital media (eBooks, digital music, streaming video) the transition to a more convenient form of consuming games media will take a long time.

Posted:2 years ago

#66

Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D

863 707 0.8
Popular Comment
The console era came to an end when Bruce started his current job:)

Posted:2 years ago

#67
Maybe the digital guys are secretly funding the next Robert De bruce warfront that will truly nail the console coffin dead. Where can i get my AAA core gamign fix next me wonders :(

Posted:2 years ago

#68

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@ Frank Mulhern

Wrong. I wrote many articles before Kwalee explaining what was happening. This from 2009: http://www.bruceongames.com/2009/11/05/more-immense-apple-app-store-numbers/

Posted:2 years ago

#69

Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D

863 707 0.8
I know Bruce, I'm just pulling your leg;)

Posted:2 years ago

#70

Alex Byrom Studying Multiplayer Online games design, Staffordshire University

33 0 0.0
Just got my onlive box, i'm planning for the future, my ps3, ps1, pc and 3ds will still have a use but i'm not buying into the next wave of consoles, online passes, day one DLC, and publishers (apart from Atlus) trying to milk as much money out of there customers as possible.

Posted:2 years ago

#71

Gareth Jones UI Engineer, Massive Interactive

49 118 2.4
Sensationalist articles like this seem to be written without the author actually thinking things through. Sure, $99 for a console sounds great, but the hardware you'd get for that would be about as powerful as a Wii and as such a massive disappointment.

I don't want 10-year old hardware for $99: I want the latest and greatest hardware and am happy to pay whatever that costs and the eagerness with which the entire industry is waiting for the next generation strongly implies I'm not alone here.

Posted:2 years ago

#72

Login or register to post

Take part in the GamesIndustry community

Register now