Consoles could soon become niche products - Playfish
Hardware may adopt online services, but will still be held back by price and audience reach, says CEO
The current generation of games consoles could struggle to deliver the types of game experiences the majority of gamers want and end up as niche products within a couple of years, according to Playfish chief executive Kristian Segerstrale.
As the demand for social games distributed via Facebook and other social networking sites grows, he predicts that incompatible, prohibitively expensive games consoles could fail to compete with the more accessible and connected experiences online services can deliver.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Segerstrale said: "I think that games consoles - while they might be an important part of the industry now - might become niche in the next couple of years. It's not at all clear if it even makes sense to deliver this type of gaming on a home console."
While Microsoft's move to market the Xbox 360 as a social entertainment experience is a step in the right direction, ultimately the platform cannot compete with PC and other internet connected portable devices, he predicts.
"The challenge is, no matter how social you try to make a console not everybody has one. Not all your real world friends will have the same console as you do. No matter how social you make it you will only reach, if you like, vertically. You will only reach your friends who have an Xbox 360."
Going on to discuss EA's entry into the social gaming market, Segerstrale was positive about the publisher's involvement, saying a big presence in the market by them will lead to higher quality experiences for users.
"They clearly believe, much as we believe, that games are becoming services and that retail distribution for games will decline quite rapidly from here onwards. And I think that the most important thing for social games is to ensure the quality of the end user experience."
"The only threat that I see to the industry is that in the search for early profit and maximising early results for companies, companies will act overly aggressively in how they try to monetise users, which is not good for anybody," he added.
The full interview with Kristian Segerstrale, where he also discusses the App Store and how it can improve and his involvement with this year's Develop conference can be read here.