Consoles may become a thing of the past

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Looking at the current trend, it’s hard to disagree. The mainstream consumer is definitely less likely to pick up an Xbox 360, PS3, Wii or (3)DS for casual gaming if Angry Birds or Plants vs. Zombies can be downloaded onto a device that has functionality beyond gaming. Not to mention the fact that the games each cost less than the average console title and will likely be supported over the course of several device upgrades. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo cannot boast that sort of longevity for their $50+ games.

I don’t predict a complete loss of consoles, though. As the market share decreases over the next few years, their business models will have to completely change. Sony would be shooting itself in the foot if it moved on with a PS4 instead of continuing its PS3 push. The PS3 already has the greatest value to consumers due to its being both a game console and one of the best blu-ray players on the market. Purchasing a PS4, which is bound to be expensive, after investing $300+ in a PS3 doesn’t make sense to anyone but the most dedicated of game consumers in this economy. Microsoft should probably continue pushing the Xbox 360, but move it in the direction of Windows 8. And of course more apps. Nintendo is completely locked into its Wii-U at this point. If the tablet controller isn’t going to be used for downloading 99¢ games, then it should be within a year or completely risk failure. The 3DS should also come around and start offering cheap downloadable games, too.

Beyond that, the consoles should start offering other services. Sure, they all stream Netflix and access the internet, some run iTunes, and some interface with your entire home network – but they could do more. Skype is the most obvious item, especially for Microsoft’s Kinect. Continuing to run DVDs and blu-rays is also obvious – and Nintendo needs to get on that ASAP.

An item that I think the consumer is slowly turning against is expensive software that will eventually become unsupported. Like I mentioned before, no one wants to invest $50+ in a game that will be unplayable from one console to the next. What’s the point in that? Games stopped becoming collector’s items after every system abandoned cartridges, so all people are buying these days are discs that cost maybe $1 to press but are sold at $50+…and will eventually become worth exactly the cost of their production. Even for 50 hours of game play, it’s not worth the investment.

It’s also helpful that there aren’t many OSes available for portable devices, so there’s less concern about missing out on a game because you purchased the “wrong” system. (It does help that the games are all simple, too.) I honestly think that consoles would stand a better chance if there were one unifying format among them, or at least three very similar ones.

Of course there’s no guarantee that game consoles are going anywhere. I just suspect that will have a more difficult time thriving in the future and will have to make drastic changes in order to continue being as profitable as they are today. But if they start to disappear, I won’t mind. As I’ve repeatedly referenced in my video game posts, I have grown less and less interested in the direction of video gaming despite how much I love gaming. I long for the day when first-person shooters are outsold by an iPad game that is essentially a more colorful version of Duck Hunt with touchscreen controls. I long for the day when simple games focused on game play mechanics outsell multimillion dollar games focused on visual aesthetics. So I won’t mind when the bubble bursts.

But I also think mobile games are a fad right now, too. There can only be so many variations of Angry Birds before people need something new. That goes for any game. But are these app developers savvy enough to keep the trend going?

Author: Gospel X

Media commentator who tries not to waste time - and often fails

One thought on “Consoles may become a thing of the past”

  1. Personally I still don’t have any next gen system and I seem to manage. I mainly play computer games (LoL; SWTOR and going to play Diablo 3/Starcraft 2). I can’t say why I never got the next gen system when I could afford it, but I know I find nothing terribly pressing enough to force me to buy one.

    In fact in my household, only my brother has a XBox360 and he only got that last summer, and from what I can tell, it hasn’t stopped him from playing games on his computer.

    Would I be concerned about consoles disappearing, probably, but I wouldn’t lose much sleep over it. I would have to see what the next level of gaming consoles bring to the table in order to be willing to invest, but even then, I will be at the point of needing/wanting a new computer which will have comparable/better set up for games.

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