Kotaku vs Gizmodo: Will Your TV Replace Your Console?

Kotaku vs Gizmodo: Will Your TV Replace Your Console?

Nowadays TVs are doing more than ever before. Panasonic and Samsung have both announced that their future televisions will feature “app stores” built in, stores which include… video games. Is this the future? Can you imagine a world without consoles, a world in which games are streamed directly through your TV? I say ‘no’. Nick Broughall from Gizmodo says ‘yes’. What say you?

NICK: *Sniff, sniff* You smell that, Mark? That pungent odour wafting through the air that gives you goosebumps? That’s the smell of change, and it’s headed your way. Because the inevitable has just been laid out before us – within the next five years or so, the humble flat panel TV is going to become the de facto gaming console of choice.

I know, as the gaming guy, you’re destined to disagree with me, but all you have to do is look at what’s happening in the TV market to know that I’m right. Last year, TVs made like Skynet and got connected, with the vast majority of quality panels offering built in ethernet or WiFi connectivity. This year, the trend has taken a huge step forward with LG, Samsung and Panasonic all offering their own app stores, where customers can download games (and other apps) to play using the TV’s remote control. While the games on offer today are still rudimentary, it’s only a matter of time before developers begin to push the boundaries and create engaging gaming experiences that can be played without the need for a dedicated console.

MARK: Well, Nick. Funnily enough, Fox News just ran a story saying the precise same thing. ‘Will Nintendo’s Next Console Be The Last Of Its Kind’ ran the shlock inducing headline.

“Consoles are a thing of the past,” said Avid Gamer/Son of Fox News producer Mark Ormond.

“Gaming will move to the cloud,” said ‘outspoken’ gaming analyst Michael Pachter.

Reading beyond the hyperbole, the one thing we can all be sure of is that we’re in a transition phase when it comes to the manner in which we purchase and consume games.

What I am sure of, however, is the fact that neither LG, Panasonic or Samsung will produce app stores that become definitive game platforms in their own right. I can 100% guarantee that right now.

Firstly, these companies do not understand games. They do not understand the gaming audience, but more importantly, the games these services are offering aren’t coming close to offering the level of experience that aging home consoles have been providing for over six years now.

NICK: Hey! Way to deliver an uppercut to the gonads, comparing my claims to Fox News. Shame on you, Serrels. Shame. But you know what? You’re right. Those particular companies don’t understand games. But what they do understand is money. Cold, hard cash. And the road to TV gaming is paved in virtual gold, my friend. If you don’t believe me, take a quick look at Apple’s financials for the last quarter, which is a pretty good indication of what’s possible with a vibrant app ecosystem. Also worth taking note of is the fact that gaming is worth more than $2 billion in Australia alone.

If the dollar argument isn’t enough to convince you, then consider this: what’s next for TV manufacturers? Unlike console makers, TVs are updated annually, and sometimes even more frequently than that. Every generation of LCD and plasma has to offer something new to try and persuade consumers to upgrade. For so many years, those annual upgrades were focussed around improving picture quality, but today we’ve reached a point where picture quality is pretty damn impressive, even on the cheaper sets. So manufacturers have started looking at alternate revenue streams by dabbling in content. Pushing for more engaging games to be offered directly through the TV will allow manufacturers to boost the hardware over the coming years so they can handle more advanced gaming experiences.

Consoles aren’t going to disappear entirely – at least not in the short term – but they are going to find themselves competing with the convenience of games being delivered directly through the television.

MARK: I think you make a decent point there – if your Panasonics and Samsungs try hard enough, they might manage to sway less dedicated games away from their consoles. That’s totally viable. But I think another point you make is equally as important:

“Every generation of LCD and plasma has to offer something new to try and persuade consumers to upgrade.”

HDTVs are almost ubiquitous. Chances are the kind of casual tech users these app stores are aimed at are not on the cusp of technology, they’re not early adopters. Chances are they already own a HDTV – they might have just purchased one in the last year or so. Convincing this market to pick up a new TV for a handful of derivative games and slightly deeper blacks is the epitome of the hard sell.

Point being – most early adopters tend be core gamers. This is likely not the market Panasonic and Samsung have the ability to pitch at. The casual gamers they do want to pitch at probably have no interest in spending another $4000 on a TV when they just upgraded.

NICK: But if Nintendo has taught us anything at all in recent years, it’s that core gamers only make up a small percentage of gamers overall. It isn’t core gamers who buy the Wii Fit and do yoga on a set of scales, it’s the mums and dads who don’t think of the Wii as gaming.

Actually, the Wii is probably the best possible starting point for comparison of what to expect from these TV games – Less than stellar graphics, coupled with a novel controller system. LG have even gone so far as to create a remote control that works exactly like a Wiimote for this generation of TVs – point it at the screen and wave it around to navigate through on screen menus. It works surprisingly well, and offers them an advantage in the early stages of TV-based gaming.

But for all the effort that Sony, Panasonic and LG have been doing with their app stores and SDKs, the elephant in the room here is Sony. Considering they have both a consumer electronics division and the PlayStation division, it’s them who we should probably expect the most from. We know that Sony filed for a patent on the ‘PS Cloud’ back in 2009, so would it be too big a leap to expect them to offer a true cloud based gaming service that’s accessible directly through Bravia televisions? The Japanese giant has been looking for a way to better integrate the different arms of its business, and this seems like a pretty logical step to take (current cloud-based Sony dilemmas aside).

MARK: Sony is the one company that could make it work – but we’re talking about a company that has really struggled to define themselves – especially when it comes to digital distribution.

In addition, a move like this would only subvert the hard work Sony has put into making itself the brand in console entertainment.

Ultimately I think consoles have a place, and the vision Sony is currently attempting to implement – the PlayStation as convergence device that “only does everything” – is a far more viable solution. Games may stream from the cloud, but they’ll probably do so from a console, or media centre, that handles all different types of content – TV, movies, music and games.

That seems far more in keeping with what we’re seeing from both Microsoft and Sony, and I don’t see Panasonic or Samsung being able to halt that juggernaut anytime soon.

NICK: I don’t think it’s about halting the juggernaut, so much as creating another juggernaut to run alongside (or maybe just slightly behind) it. If you look at what Sony is doing in the mobile space, opening up the PlayStation brand on Android devices, it shows that Sony is branching away from the idea that PlayStation hardware is tied to the PlayStation software. If you expand on the idea that the Xperia Play is the start of a whole range of PlayStation Certified devices, is it really such a stretch to consider a PlayStation badged television, that lets you play classic PSOne games directly through the television? Hell, if you look at Google TV – which can already run Android apps – we’re practically living that scenario already.

TV games aren’t going to drive us all out to the shops to replace our consoles, at least not any time soon. But I do think that they will become the dominant form of gaming in the home in the years to come, as traditional non-gamers open up to the idea of playing through their television screens. If I was a developer, I’d be watching this space like a hawk eyeing off a field mouse…


  • TVs, as they exist now, will not be replacing consoles anytime soon. They don’t have the hardware and, while app stores and new control schemes are arriving, they’re next-gen, not mainstream.
    Look at how long it took to transition from CRT to plasma and lcd.
    The other issue is that tvs are a passive form of entertainment.
    The transition from passive to active entertainment is not an easy one. That is why the average age of gamers is 30, because gen x were the first, with a small number of baby boomers now approaching with the caution of a mouse at midday, following the example of their children.
    Will it?
    Maybe one day, and while “someday” is just around the corner more often than not, unless you count people playing farmville through their internet-capable tv, this one will take time.

  • I would much rather consoles shifted to becoming a true media centre hub – the TV is and should remain the output device.
    Consoles with full media playing capabilities (all codecs), network sharing or storage, DVR, Internet browsing etc etc is a far more elegant solution, and far more cost-effective.

  • I don’t understand.
    Who is Michael Pachter and why is he saying my consoles are moving to Qumulys’ place?

  • I could see Sony bringing a toned down PSN style app store to their TV’s. Even a fully fledged PS3 inside one maybe, but they’ll always be consoles. There would be too many variables for developers to consider when produce high-end video games, because of the sheer amount of television manufacturers, all running their own firmware or O/S.

    TV app stores. FAD.

  • I know a guy. He’s the kind of guy who likes angry birds etc but wouldn’t consider himself a gamer. I sat down to show him some high end games on the PS3. Grabbed some Uncharted, GT5 and others. We sat down and I tried to show him how these games were played. What I saw in his eyes as he took the controller was fear. A fear the of the unknown. Of failing perhaps? Unable to immediately grasp the controls, confused by all the buttons. He had slammed in to a wall and was not only unable to climb but unable to try. The control was thrust back in my hands “I’ll watch.” he told me. I tried to show him how easy this was, once you cleared the initial hurdles. As the game progressed he found the visuals and story of Uncharted to be to his liking, he was having fun, but each time I attempted to put him in control the fear returned. He owns a PS3 now and plays 2 games. FIFA and the Mega Drive collection.

    This guy will happily buy a TV that plays the latest fad app.

    Me? I wouldn’t mind playing PS1 games through my TV, but I probably won’t. I have them on disc and on the PSN. PS1 games and apps are fun. For a short while. Or when I’m on the train.

    At home I want bigger, better games. I want to be impressed. I want, in 5 years time, to look at what I’m playing and think “look how far we’ve come!” not “Where did it all go wrong?”

    Tetris on the TV will keep my Mum happy.

    It’s not the future. It’s an extra. Their customers are the guys and gals who wouldn’t play a current gen console. Who don’t game on the PC. Their market is a fairly untapped one, or at least a recently discovered one.

    I own about 100 PS3 games. how much storage space would my TV need for that?

  • I think Nick has a great point about PlayStation-branded TVs. And if they manage to move into the space successfully, and not missing the mark like they have in the past, Sony could do it.
    What I see happening is TVs offering a similar gaming experience to mobiles and tablets now: More casual-focused, a lot of crap, but some real gems. And it would probably be enough to hurt console sales, at least a little. Especially those who focus on the more casual (I’m looking at you Nintendo). Parents may be far less inclined to buy a console for their children when they can just by cheap $5 games on their TV.
    Consoles would still exist for the high-powered AAA titles, and shift even more towards the “hardcore” gamer market.
    Of course, this shift wouldn’t properly happen for years, even if the Playstation TVs were released tomorrow. But it would happen.

    • The Sony Bravia/PS3 deal was almost a way for Sony to say – here’s all your entertainment in one fixed package. It would be very Sony to make a TV that had the components of a PS3 inside the TV itself!

  • Eh i still think gaming in the cloud is a bad shift.

    I like being able to own by games and my hardware in a way that i can still play them.

    Although the one advantage to cloud based gaming is that it should essentially remove the console wars.

    Everything would logically be made on a PC esque Architecture. and then your service provider would pay for exclusive’s again much like the 360 did at the start of it’s life cycle.

    The issue i take with the cloud is stuff will eventually go missing licensing issues arise, and content that i paid for can be taken away.

    Much much easier than steam could ever hope. Because while steam could shut up shop tommorow, the fact is that there are cracks for the majority of it’s product’s and others would soon follow, because the game files are on anyone who has bought and installed the games HDD’s, and therefore the internet.

    hiding the game code behind the internet means that at the end of a licensing agreement a product can be pulled with no way to play it after that

  • Yes, most definitely. The cloud is the future. But it’s a bit like the Nintendo Power Glove at the moment – it’s a bit ahead of its time.

    Cloud + NBN = win. Essentially, dumb cheap terminals with elastic gaming machines off in the aether. I don’t see embedding these simple devices in TVs raising the cost of a single unit significantly. If you boil it all down, it’s just software that streams and displays pre-rendered images onto the screen.

    Embedding these devices in TVs? Hmmm, no. I don’t think so. I’d prefer an external box with various input and output devices (USB ports, SD card slots etc). If you need to upgrade your box, you can do it without replacing your TV.

    External or embedded, the real win is in the figures. It’s a win for the consumer – you pay less for hardware and far less often. Cheaper hardware also means less subsidising console prices which is a win for the big three. Pushing the guts of the processing power into a massive aircraft hanger allows the manufacturer to maintain, upgrade and scale the hardware at their leisure. The real challenge is convincing your average consumer.

  • It’s the other way around right now, my consoles and PC have essentially replaced my TV viewing.

    My television mostly acts as a monitor, I rarely watch free to air anymore it’s just games, movies, downloads and internet.

  • I, personally, am over hearing about how great the cloud is. Especially when it comes to gaming..

    I’m still a hard copy cultist, and always will be D:

  • yeah using NBN and web apps on integrated browsers (possibly Chrome/ChromeOS) TV would replace consoles for some people, but not for any real gamers.

  • It’s all in the hands of publishers.

    Panasonic isn’t going to develop a gaming studio any time soon to produce these games, so they’ll need to rely on publishers to provide content.

    If publishers can make money from it without having to spend wads of cash like they currently do for consoles, they’ll jump on the bandwagon.

  • It could happen, but before it does isp’s will have to get their finger out in order for it to happen.

    Onlive, or some other similar company would do well to get it’s hardware incorporporated into the next gen of tv’s. Maybe they will bundle a controller or 2 for the fun to begin.

    I think there will be another generation of consoles before the great turnover to the cloud. Hopefully the next genetation will give reason to upgrade, if i don’t get fmv quality gfx with 16x asf, then i’ll skip a generation.

  • It would be interesting to see how it all plays out the only upside I can see in the demise of the console is that there are no more crappy ports to pc……….

  • Having a TV as a console puts a major hurdle on the upgrade/new path.

    Traditionally consoles have had a generation of around 5 years (this is increasing with the 360 and PS3). At this point electronics have moved on, and a new more powerful system comes out.

    Traditionally TVs have a major longer lifespan, probably 10-20 years dependent on the user.

    If say next year Sony was to release a PlaystationTV how soon would it be out of date? Even if this happened with a PS4 is 2014, 10 years later the PlaystationTV would be outdated.

    This has always been easy to get around with a console. You just buy the new system, the older system can be kept still (they don’t take up much space, and might eventually be moved to the 2nd TV room etc). If the whole system was a 50inch TV, then people wouldn’t be willing to replace it.

    This could be solved if there was a modular standard for TV’s. Say every TV has at least 2 slots that different devices could be installed into (fancier TVs having more slots). These slots could then be the actual hardware of a console, PVR, etc. It’d be similar to the slots within a PC for a CD/DVD/HDDVD/BluRay drive, you can upgrade when needed.

  • So when I want to take my Xbox over to someone else’s house, I just take that. If we have games on our TV’s and I want to take my gaming system to their place because they don’t have a ‘gaming TV’, I have to take my whole TV?

  • The main thing holding back Nick’s argument his point about the casual market and the Wii. Sure, you need to have a decent TV to start off with, but the Wii was what, $300 or $400 around launch? If you’re expecting the average consumer with a passing interest in gaming to think it’s worth the $3-4K purchase for a new TV because it has a few cool games, when they can pick up the Wii or the Wii 2 and get motion control for a few hundred bucks? Unless HDTVs bring in the same kind of feedback our current generation of consoles has, they’re dreaming if they think they can compete.

    Moreover, and I’m asking this because I don’t own a smartphone with access to an appstore – all I’ve got is a shitty Nokia with Sudoku – but isn’t the main thing driving the success and popularity of apps mobility? People on the bus or in a waiting room or somewhere outside of their home with nothing to do – isn’t that the appeal? That’s at least how most of my friends do it. But without a motion controller, I don’t see many people sitting at home with their big-ass TV (and by extension, probably a decent disposable income) thinking, you know what, I’m at home, and I have nothing better to do than play Angry Birds.

  • Well it’s all very well making such claims about cloud computing but we still do not even have half of console players playing online.

    One major problem is the lack of true high speed internet available to most people around the world.

    What needs to be established are large servers in all major cities around the world, once this is established latency will almost be eliminated.

    It will eventually become a reality but as long as we don’t have the network in place world wide, cloud computing is not going to happen any time soon.

  • I say: Maybe. For example, a Sony TV with a PS3 (or PS-esque hardware and OS) built into it wouldn’t be impossible, but it would be largely impractical, being unable to get a bigger TV without also replacing the console, any maintenance means you loose both, those sorts of problems make it largely impractical for that idea to take hold. Plus, I’m not buying a whole TV for both Sony and Nintendo consoles, both of them on one TV is fine by me.

  • Upgrading and updating the TV with new hardware every year is 100% against the whole philosophy of consoles. Consoles are great since they are a standard. Developers can create a game for the system and they know it will work the same on every single PS3 or XBOX out there.

    If you start changing the hardware, you start becoming a PC in terms of mix and match components and games being incompatible… except unlike a PC you can’t tinker with the software behind the scenes to attempt to better your performance.

    Won’t happen… CAN’T happen.

  • I don’t even own a TV.

    And it seems to me like it would generally be impractical to upgrade your screen every time you want an increase in any technological fashion.

  • Bah, we set the trends, not big companies. We make or break them and their ideas so nothing is written in stone. Internet fridges were a ‘great idea’ once to 😛

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