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Ex-PlayStation boss points to streaming as gaming's next "inflection point"

Andrew House also sees emerging markets keeping physical media alive and console life-cycles long

Streaming is likely to be the next "inflection point" for the games industry, according to former PlayStation boss Andrew House, but only once an appropriate business model has been established.

Speaking at the Gamesbeat Summit yesterday, House discussed the next few years of the console business, highlighting the potential of game streaming to "upend" the industry.

"If you look back at console gaming history, there are certain inflection points that allow for the industry to be upended and for new participants to emerge," he said, as reported by Polygon. "One of those is when you have a wholesale shift in the distribution method.

"In content-based industries, that is what is creating barriers to entry for people to come in. So, other than the technical challenges, there's no reason why game streaming can't be present in games in the same way that we have seen in the music and film and television industries."

The first PlayStation console rose to prominence based on 3D graphics, he said, but only in part. Another significant factor was the move away from "expensive cartridges" and towards a cheaper CD format that, "allowed developers to take more risks."

"Streaming could be the next inflection point," he said. "But the business model has to be thought through."

Sony Interactive Entertainment launched the PlayStation Now service during House's tenure as chairman, but he still believes in the value of physical media in the console business. House said that "you will see the disc around in the industry for a while", mainly due to companies attempting to capture emerging and developing markets.

The potential to open up new markets is a reason why a new generation of consoles is unlikely to arrive anytime soon. While he conceded that a PlayStation 5 probably exists "in laboratories" in some form already, House admitted to being, "very bullish on longer life cycles for consoles."

"Consoles are so under-represented and under-penetrated in so many markets around the globe," he said. "There's so much potential. Let's not forget that China is still largely [untapped]."

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