The game console has been part of people’s lives for quite awhile now — to walk into someone’s house and see a PlayStation, Xbox, Wii, or some other system is nothing of a shocker. After all, these devices offer a one-stop solution to gaming without the hardware incompatibilities. They just work.
And this system has worked — it has worked quite well for several decades.
However, someone worth listening to is speaking up against this system of gaming. This person believes that the game console’s days are numbered: that the console is dying. This person also managed to stun Sony, the company behind the PS3. And this person is a true visionary within the gaming industry.
This person is none other than Hideo Kojima, creator of the insanely popular Metal Gear Solid franchise.
And let’s be clear: when one of the most recognizable visionaries within the game industry envisions the death of the game console, everyone should be paying attention.
“In the near future, we’ll have games that don’t depend on any platform,” stated Kojima during an interview with Reuters.
He believes that gamers should be able to experience games anywhere they want to. If you are in a living room, in a car, on a plane, or anywhere you want to play a game, you should be able to do so. Nothing should get in the way of that.
I agree completely with that.
Reasons The Console Is Dying
So let’s take at what will ultimately be the demise of console gaming.
One particularly glaring issue with console gaming today is that the gaming industry is experiencing segmentation. Developers and publishers have four major platforms to deal with now: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, and PC. The problem is that some games are playable on some systems, but not on others. That some games perform differently than they do on other platforms. That some users can play online or at home with their friends, but some can’t — unless they own the same game console.
This creates problems for gamers. It creates exclusivity in gaming, which is clearly not good for consumers. It means that gamers must purchase additional hardware just to play their favorite games with friends. Most importantly, it means that there is a barrier to entry.
There is also a different type of segmentation: segmentation amongst gamers themselves. There are various categories of gamers ranging from hardcore to casual, and games need to be able to attract all of these groups. Game consoles will unlikely attract casual gamers or those who have never played a console game before in the future.
However, if these games became accessible to the user through skill and device, that could change everything.
Lack of Access
The world is changing as well, and technology is changing along with it. The invention and growth of mobile devices in recent years has brought with it new expectations: that the same technology we enjoy at home should also be able to be enjoyed no matter where its users are.
So why should games be excluded from this trend? Well… they shouldn’t!
Just as Kojima mentioned before, the fact that games are currently limited in when and where they can be accessed is wrong. We should be able to access our games wherever we are. The game should come to us, and not the other way around.
But as the way things currently stand, game developers are losing out on massive monetization and innovation opportunities.
One of the last significant reasons that game consoles are dying is because they are no longer necessary.
You see, games are becoming more social than ever before. Social games encourage — what else — socialization, and that is what people should truly want from their games. These games should promote communication, teamwork, and entertainment — banging away on your computer in your mom’s basement while playing StarCraft until 5 AM simply isn’t the future of gaming.
There are sides that can argue that games provide social networking opportunities (particularly through services like Xbox Live and games like Little Big Planet), but we all know that consoles are all about the beat-um-up explosion-filled experiences that come from the likes of Modern Warfare 2. Even attempts to integrate social services into these devices has been somewhat of a mess.
These types of games are aimed for a different type of hardware — portable hardware that can be with the user.
Also, it’s no mistake that games like Farmville are becoming wildly popular — these are the types of games that younger generations are growing up with. Try putting Farmville on a game console. It wouldn’t work in its current incarnation.
Adapt or Die
This is the clearly the direction that the gaming industry is going to need to take — the traditional game console just doesn’t fit into the equation. Sure, we still might own game consoles in the future, but they will no longer be the centerfold of gaming software.
These platforms like Facebook, Android, Apple App Store, PSP, and others will also eventually lose their places as an important role in gaming the gaming industry too. The point of the future is to have games accessible anywhere by any device at any time. Closed, proprietary platforms won’t make the cut.
Now I am not saying that this is going to happen within the next week, month, year, or decade; because, frankly, I don’t have to — it is already happening as you read this, and the pace is picking up, especially with the development of HTML 5 and other Web-based technologies.
This is the beginning of the end for the game console as we know it.
As reported by Reuters.