Rovio: Console Games Are "Dying"

My old boss used to have a saying: turkeys don't vote for Christmas. So it makes sense that Peter Vesterbacka, who leads business development for Rovio, creators of Angry Birds, would claim that console games are "dying". Even though most evidence disputes that fact.

As reported by GamesBeat at a panel moderated by a South by Southwest Interactive conference in the US, Vesterbacka made some interesting comments on the state of the games industry and the rapid growth of mobile gaming.

Innovation in gaming has clearly moved into mobile and social, Vesterbacka said, largely because those companies are more “nimble” — it’s easy to develop and release new content quickly. In fact, he said as mobile gaming (including games on tablet devices like the iPad) continues to grow, console games are “dying”. Vesterbacka scoffed at the traditional model where companies charge $40 to $50 for a game that’s difficult to upgrade. (Nokia’s Tero Ojanpera, who was also on the panel, countered that there’s still a place for consoles, because gamers aren’t going to plug tablet devices into their televisions.)

It's an interesting story, which we recommend you read in full here. Vesterbacka goes on to claim that the business model for mobile gaming is still in flux, but the potential is huge. One thing is for sure - the games industry is in some kind of transition phase, and the next two or three years are going to be extremely interesting.

Angry Birds maker predicts the death of console gaming [GamesBeat]


    Sales stats prove otherwise but obviously this man loves living in a state of denial...

      It's the same as the argument that PC gaming is dying. Far from it.
      Each new company who has a vested interest in their sector will claim that so that more people will go to their platform and therefore products.

    I'd take console gaming over 'mobile' gaming like Angry Birds any day of the week.

    Back in your box, Vesterbacka.

      Console gaming is dead. Okay then. Here's a challenge, Verso: build a game at the same quality level as Mass Effect 1/2, Assassin's Creed 1/2/2.5 or Red Dead Redemption and then we'll take your opinion seriously.

      As for claims of "innovation in gaming", there is no innovation in Angry Birds. The PC/console world had that game 20 years ago; it was called "Worms", and it was far more entertaining even then. Until someone can create an experience as immersive as a game like Assassin'sDeadEffect on a mobile platform then there's still a lot more work to do.

      But I'm certain we all agree that we hope that someone will create such high quality game experiences on mobile platforms. Still, "Cut The Rope" isn't quite meeting such heady expectations.

    Mobile phones and social networks aren't killing, and will never replace, game consoles or computers.
    They are expanding the market, that's all. They are drawing non-gamers into the casual gamer bracket and bleeding them slowly, wither like mosquitos, leeches or bloodbanks.
    But making comments like this is inflamator and irresponsible.
    I would have expected better from someone who is trying to bastardise one of the newest forms of media.
    Oh, wait.
    No I wouldn't.

    A clever statement though to attract some investment away from the big players. However I would suggest that the markets for mobile games and console games are almost mutually exclusive.

    We're talking about completely different markets here. Although it would be nice is the mobile gaming boom did help push console game prices down and change the publishers' approach to DLC a little.

    Console games aren't dying.

    But what has Rovio done besides Angry Birds ports and themes? Their entire business plan is based upon how much longer phone-gamers will put up with their mediocre little title.

      yeah sure as he says innovation might be on phone gamings side but thats for one reason and one reason only at the moment

      It's new, sure phone gaming has been around for years but it's only been since smartphones became viable for everyone that gaming has been able to embraced give it 5 years and anything innovated will be gone with just variant's

      Besides with iphone games it's less about the games and more about the graphic style.

      and indeed rovio haven't done anything since but i wonder if that's a calculated decision on there part, they may have something awesome bundled up but with angry birds still selling like hotcakes theres no reason to put it out there and compete with yourself unless someone else puts out a game similiar to there new game

        "give it 5 years and anything innovated will be gone with just variant’s"

        Don't even have to wait that long, it's already started. Your point is well founded and well based with historic backup though. Look at AB right now, itself a clone of the tower attack flash games, it's already got dozens of imitators. Hardly innovative.

    Mobile gaming is basically a race to the bottom. High volume, low value, huge mountains of crap and very, very poor signal-to-noise ratio. Incidentally the exact same factors that caused the US video game industry crash in the 80s, though I can't see that happening this time. It could push Nintendo and/or Sony out of the market though, and in the end I think that would be a bad thing for gamers.

    Vesterbacker has a very legitimate point.

    Game consoles have high network externalities and as such it is of great value to release a game on a console. This, combined with technical requirements for a game to be cutting edge, has created high development costs.

    High development costs need a lot of money, which requires investors.

    Many investors means risk aversion. People who invest want to make money and as such are not always inclined to take risks.

    As such, large "blockbuster" games will tend to cater to the mass market and use gameplay elements which have been "tried and tested."

    Ergo, in an era of high development costs you can generally expect to see less innovation, ceteris paribus. On a platform of high development costs you can generally expect to see less innovation, ceteris paribus.

    Vasterbacker is quite correct that often, small companies working on smaller games on lower dev-cost platforms will have more latitude to try something new.

    Will this mean the death of console gaming? I don't think so. Independent cinema hasn't destroyed blockbusters and nor have blockbusters destroyed independent cinema. If anything I'd expect console and mobile gaming will evolve into different markets with different business models, but they will both borrow from each other.

    bold statment to make for sure. however there is still a wide gap to bridge. taking arngry birds as the top selling most popular established iphone game. it has sold around 12 million units

    Modern Warfare 2, its console counterpart as one of the top selling most popular established console games has sold around twice that at 20 million units.

    and ill bet infinity ward makes more than 99cents per unit.

    and there lies the true gap. its not hard to get 2 million people to part with 99 cents on a fun, addictive game made by 7 people in a basement.

    but if you try to professionally engineer the next angry birds. to force that lighning to strike twice. your profits are drained on a team of developers or you price it at 1.99 to cover increased dev costs and lose half your customers to the hundreds of other fun, addictive games made buy 7 guys in a basement that can still price at 99 cents.

    I'm not one to jump on the whole casual-games-aren't-real-games bandwagon, but don't you think it would help casual developers to not say stuff that demonizes their whole portion of the industry to a huge potential audience? How can someone in such a position of power fail to realise the pragmatic implications of what they say?

      It's easy to develop and release crap on mobile devices. It's hard to believe most of these apps qualify as a game. The next wave of dedicated gaming handhelds should put an end to this argument.

      BTW I can't recall seeing follow up success to angry birds, or should I say "one trick pony".

    I don't disagree with what he's saying. The big budget of traditional console games means less risks are taken.
    However, I find it hard to take his word saying that 'mobile gaming is innovative' when his company has released one notable game in the last 2 years, and then just iterated on it umpteen times.
    And then there's the fact that that one game is derivative of games that game before it like 'Crush the Castle'.


    StudiodeKadent's last paragraph said it best.


    Jesus, I need to quit smoking...

    Yep its true! Black ops was a total flop last nov lol
    Never played angry birds, but been angry at games on my phone many, many times! (touch screen gaming is toilet water)

    what an idiot, plain and simple. Mobile gaming is great for a quick on the go fix, arcade style games where you want to get a higher score than all your friends, to some extent even action games and RPG's, though hardly on the scale of a full PC/console game.

    Full AAA games will never be mobile, you don't want to play them on the go. You want to sit down and become engrossed, have a long gaming sesh.

    Given that 60% of the people I've seen with an iPhone wouldn't even own a DS, I don't these simple flash games are replacing console gaming, rather they're introducing a whole bunch of bored people to a new hobby, and some of those people will eventually want a deeper experience.

    Console gaming has nothing to fear from touch screen phones

    The Sega & Nintendo emulators on my phone, give me all the games I will ever need (on my phone), and are of a higher quality than 99% of all modern mobile games.


      Yeah im with u there. I got sick of crappy android games, so got a GBA and NES emulator on my mobile.
      Works fantastic, but the touch screen virtual controller is so frustrating at times!
      Ah just over 2 weeks until I get my greasy mitts on a 3DS, then some real portable gaming can commence

        I have to agree, the touch screen is hopeless for a lot of emulated games. I've found stuff like Pokemon, Zelda and top down RPGs are okay, but playing anything like a sidescroller is just futile.

        A friend mentioned yesterday that I could probably get an Xbox emulator for my HTC and as intriguing as that is, I wouldn't even want to try it because of the controls.

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