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Next-gen consoles will lose ground, says Roberts

Next-gen consoles will lose ground, says Roberts

Thu 31 Jan 2013 7:46pm GMT / 2:46pm EST / 11:46am PST
Hardware

Star Citizen developer Chris Roberts says Sony and Microsoft's next efforts will lose price and power advantages over PCs

The next-generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft won't enjoy the success of their predecessors, according to Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts. Speaking with NowGamer about his current project Star Citizen, Roberts dismissed concerns that the next wave of consoles would undermine enthusiasm for Kickstarter projects like his own.

"I think consoles will be there and they'll do decent business but I don't think that the next generation of consoles will be as big as the last generation," Roberts said. "Essentially, I can build a high-end PC now that's much more powerful than the new consoles that will be announced this year."

While that PC might cost a lot more than a standard console price point, the cost of PC power is always decreasing, and Roberts said the tools to stream content to a living room TV set is similarly coming down. At the same time, console makers are less likely to rack up the huge losses on hardware out of the gate that they did in the last generation.

"So they're going to be on an even footing with everyone else, whether it's Steam Box or whatever, and then what's the best platform," Roberts asked. "Is it a closed platform, which is controlled and curated like Microsoft, Apple and Sony, or is it an open platform that isn't controlled? There are good and bad things about both sides but that's basically the PC platform."

Roberts went on to say that despite the consoles' ability to run Star Citizen, he wouldn't bring the game to them in the next generation unless Sony and Microsoft made their platforms considerably more open. In particular, he said the lack of control over the update cycle and inability to push out new content whenever it suits the game would be two major obstacles.

23 Comments

Paul Jace
Merchandiser

764 995 1.3
"Essentially, I can build a high-end PC now that's much more powerful than the new consoles that will be announced this year."
Um...you could do that everytime a new console was announced during the last several console generations. And you will also always pay much more money for that high-end PC than those new consoles cost.

Posted:A year ago

#1
I am struck how similar this period in the end of the Generation-7 console hardware cycle is similar to the 1985 home game system collapse - when promises of unique dedicated game systems (like the Enterprise Elan) claimed big opportunities but fell flat in the face of player discontentment and a more realistic sales model.

Is the industry sleepwalking into another situation?

Posted:A year ago

#2

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

1,992 898 0.5
@Kevin: Yes indeed. I've been seeing it coming for a few years, slowly but surely. I hope people are ready for it, because when it hits, it's going to hurt. People are busy patting themselves on the head and back over successes that keep locking out certain segments of gamers and fragmenting the audience so much that it's drowning out the sound of common sense...

Eh, whatever - we'll see how things pan out. If I'm wrong, I have a tasty crow pie in the freezer from about 2007 I can heat up and chew on later...

Posted:A year ago

#3
Blah !! @Roberts do decent (business) Lol it's funny how every time a console generation is at it's end there's always some dumb ass PC guy who brags about. How the PC is more powerful!! dude Microsoft is the PC not steam and further more being that Xbox aka Direct X is also Microsoft neither M or Sony will fall that far behind your PC in graphics or performance vs systems that's built for more programming in gaming then PC's....Since there programming tools are pretty much even to yours the only people who will be able to tell the difference between your PC nd PS4 /Xbox ? Is you (-; wait Lol that's with every generation

Posted:A year ago

#4

Doug Paras

117 61 0.5
A fast PC will cost you $1000+ and if you need a decent Monitor your looking @ $1200 bare minimum for a good system, for top of the line you need $2000+. A console will run you around $3-400 and will play games outta the box and have no viruses or any software issues that the user has to worry about other then updates.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Cameron Lourenco
Studying Business Managemant

22 16 0.7
If the next generation embraces a digital only business model, or tries to destroy used game sales by attaching codes to each game to get access, it wouldn't surprise me if a few people just decided to buy a PC instead. I would certainly do so if it meant I could share games with my friends and try things out for free. But really you're always looking at a massive amount of money spent on a PC, especially if you don't live in the US. It's even more if you don't have all the know-how and you can't build your own PC, at lot of money goes into paying the company to actually make the PC into whatever custom setup you asked for. Given how fast PC's become obsolete, you may be able to play all the latest games at the highest settings for 6 months to a year, after which you're already looking at either upgrading or playing on lower settings which defeats the whole point of paying through the nose for a top of the line PC.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,716 598 0.3
Well he has got this wrong.
The dominant core gaming device in 4 years time will be the 7 inch tablet. With 1080p (or higher) and highly advanced ARM processors it will be more powerful than a console and it will be cheaper!
The PC is in decline as a computing device. Just look up "PC decline" on Google. Portable devices are taking over as the dominant computing devices.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Tudor Nita
C++ Multiplayer Programmer

23 26 1.1
@Bruce. Agreed on the 7inch as the perfect pocket-sized multimedia device size.

While I also agree that they are the most ubiquitous gaming platforms, if only for their low-cost and swiss-knife approach to computing, you shouldn't take up mobile hardware as a selling point. Especially since I assume you know how ARM fairs next to almost any established x86 processor.

Right now, ARM is playing some heavy catch-up. It's progress is extremely fast since R&D costs are always low when playing catch-up. It will slow down considerably when it will come close to the performance wall that current processors hit. That's not for years to come and when it will, ARM will simply be another general purpose processing unit fighting in the already over-crowded market.

To top it off, flops/s is the least of your worries when you remember that you are running on a tiny powerpack. mips / watt is what you are really interested in. ARM is doing well in that category but the fact is, powerpack technology has not advanced nearly fast enough to make portable devices significantly more viable than they were 10 years ago. Hence the 5minute game paradigm. They get prettier but they also get significantly shorter because of it.

Also, your comment seems to imply ARM will stay synonymous to mobile devices. I think that's a slightly short-sighted view on things.

Edited 6 times. Last edit by Tudor Nita on 3rd February 2013 12:06pm

Posted:A year ago

#8

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,716 598 0.3
@Tudor Nita

http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21571117-search-better-ways-storing-electricity-hotting-up-batteries

The Joint Centre for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), at which Dr Pupek and his colleagues work, hopes to prove the doubters wrong. It has drawn together the best brains in energy research from America’s national laboratories and universities, along with a group of interested companies. It has money, too. It has just received a grant of $120m from the country’s Department of Energy. The aim, snappily expressed, is to make batteries five times more powerful and five times cheaper in five years.

Posted:A year ago

#9

Tudor Nita
C++ Multiplayer Programmer

23 26 1.1
@Bruce
Would love to see something come out of it. I wouldn't hold my breath though, just like with the FCEV project.

Call me a conspiracy theorist but I doubt this will make it past the door, even if it proves ( like the FCEV ) that it is completely practical and only requires a strong R&D push to get it into wide-spread use.

Somehow, these projects are muffled after a while, especially if they make progress.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Tudor Nita on 3rd February 2013 1:57pm

Posted:A year ago

#10

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

631 223 0.4
@Bruce:

That sounds like the Soviet Unions 5 year plan.

Posted:A year ago

#11

Sean Edwards
Director

6 6 1.0
Consoles are not purchased by the tech savvy PC Gamer although many of them including myself do own them for exclusive titles. Consoles are aimed at the mass market who don't want to deal with all the technical issues and just want to turn it on and start playing ( PS3 patching kind of ruins this)

His statements come across as an elitist PC gamer who doesn't acknowledge that consoles are a valid and healthy platform to play games on with many incredible titles that simple are not available on PC simply because the high end PC gamer market is small by comparison and the returns are too small.

PCs have always been several years ahead of the latest consoles technology when they're released. Consoles have to be sold at a price point that consumers will be prepared to pay and that means using technology who's cost has been reduced and can be mass produced.

Posted:A year ago

#12

Jason Schroder
Senior Programmer

12 22 1.8
The dominant core gaming device in 4 years time will be the 7 inch tablet.
The dominant core mobile gaming device in 4 years time will be the 7 inch tablet. Fixed it for you.

You can't ignore the limitations of a tablet's input interface for core gaming. How do you intend to fly a chopper in BF5 with a touch screen?

Posted:A year ago

#13

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,716 598 0.3
How do you intend to fly a chopper in BF5 with a touch screen?
Accelerometer/tilt screen?

Posted:A year ago

#14

Samuel Verner
Game Designer

123 208 1.7
A fast PC will cost you $1000+ and if you need a decent Monitor your looking @ $1200 bare minimum for a good system, for top of the line you need $2000+. A console will run you around $3-400 and will play games outta the box and have no viruses or any software issues that the user has to worry about other then updates.
you ignore an important point here. you can upgrade a pc. my old pc can still run every new game on ultra details and its not even a high end machine anymore. what do i need to do to have a better pc than the new concoles? i just have to buy a new graphic card for 250 bucks. thats all.

oh and the new consoles will cost way more than $400 ;)

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Samuel Verner on 4th February 2013 11:29am

Posted:A year ago

#15

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

631 223 0.4
you ignore an important point here. you can upgrade a pc
Ignoring the fact a powerful PC can be used for many other things, including making those games. Its a matter of personal preference which platform is better for playing a game, but you need a PC to make them.

Posted:A year ago

#16

Alex Podverbny
CTO & co-founder

9 6 0.7
> Accelerometer/tilt screen?
Are you serious? Each and every time I have to play something with racing/flying/shooting mechanics with touch-based controls, I feel myself an invalid. Sure, it's possible. But it's very different experience (from normal console/gamepad).

Posted:A year ago

#17

Jason Schroder
Senior Programmer

12 22 1.8
Accelerometer/tilt screen?
That's fine for fudging a casual game, but not for a core game requiring precision control.

Posted:A year ago

#18

Craig Page
Programmer

380 216 0.6
How do you intend to fly a chopper in BF5 with a touch screen?
If the tablet has a USB port, couldn't you plug in a mat from Dance Dance Revolution? Or I guess a wireless PS3 controller, or wireless keyboard + mouse.

I really don't care, because even WITH a keyboard I'm guaranteed to fly the chopper into the ground long before it ever gets shot down. :(

Posted:A year ago

#19

Elphège Kolingba
Product/Brand Manager (Online/Offline)

16 2 0.1
Needless to say Sony has made its PS4 more scalable :)

Posted:A year ago

#20

Alex Barnfield
Engineer

14 4 0.3
Bruce - I don't think people who only buy tablets are going to be a concern for Chris Roberts title. More traditional gamers aren't going to migrate to a touchscreen only interface (aside from the odd point and click adventure my ipad doesn't see much gaming usage, mostly movies, documents, books, Japanese revision apps, honestly anything and everything but games). Who is playing plants versus zombies on a tablet doesn't really impact star citizen in any way shape or form.
What happens in the world of consoles versus PCs I wouldn't like the hazard a guess at, particularly with Steam box on the way. I'm keeping an open mind on the subject.

Posted:A year ago

#21

Matthew Bennett
Code Monkey

18 9 0.5
@Paul Jace
Chris did state that the price point for PCs is much higher than that of the consoles. However, I think both Sony and Microsoft are in a position now where they no longer believe subsidising hardware costs with licence fees is a valid strategy.

What this means for us is; The price point for Consoles will probably be directly proportional to the amount of power the machine has (From a hardware standpoint). If Microsoft's next console comes out and it happens to be £100 cheaper than the PS4 (hypothetically speaking) chances are it will be underpowered in comparison.

Now to get to my point; the before mentioned situation means that - the price point to build a PC as powerful as the next generation of consoles is, relatively speaking, the lowest it has been in probably a long time. Referencing PCGamer's article on the matter (even though they cut some corners and are obviously biased); they claimed they could build a bare-bones PC comparable to the next generation of consoles on roughly £500-600, This is little more than £100-200 more than the estimated price point of the PS4.

With hardware prices constantly falling over the next few months as well - it could be interesting.

All of that said - I am so very happy the new generation of consoles are coming out (finally), we really, really need a fresh breath of air in the industry and I hope the new consoles will provide that - not just for the next Xbox or the PS4 but for all platforms.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Matthew Bennett on 9th May 2013 1:50pm

Posted:11 months ago

#22

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