Weapons Of Mass Disruption #3: How And Why Consoles Will Die

Many people (me included) have been saying publicly that they think the ‘console' — dedicated hardware designed primarily for gaming — is on it's way out.

I used to keep a list of famous developers and executives who shared my view, but it got too big to maintain!

Anyway, here's just two that you might care about: David Jaffe and Hideo Kojima.

For many people, the idea that the mighty console will die out is too radical to comprehend. It sounds so outlandish that it requires further explanation than I was able to put across in a 26-minute Game Developers Conference presentation. So how about I go through the mechanics and the economics of it?

I base my view on a bunch of Assumptions and Data Points. Assumptions would be things I believe are true, but that we have no data for, and Data Points are things that we know are true. You can argue with assumptions, but it's pretty much impossible to argue with data.

  1. Data point — Consoles like Xboxes, PlayStations and the Wii U are sold at a loss. It costs more to manufacture and distribute the device than it is sold for. Console manufacturers do this, because they hope to make back the money from the licence fee they charge for every game sold on the system. In order to offset the huge cost of hardware production, distribution, R&D and marketing, a hardware platform holder must sell vast quantities of hardware, and even bigger quantities of software. So much needs to be sold, in fact, that the data points to PS3 and Xbox 360 having made huge losses, despite having sold 70+ million units of hardware each.
  2. Data point — Of those 70 million Xbox 360s sold, a large proportion (approx 40 per cent) were bought after the most recent price cut of August 2009. Of the 70 million PS3s sold, a large proportion (approx 42 per cent) were bought since the introduction of the PS3 Slim.
  3. Assumption — The large proportion of sales of these consoles coming so late in the cycle, and at low prices, indicates a large proportion of the console user base that isn't looking for the most advanced system (indeed, a custom gaming PC is the most advanced in terms of CPU and GPU this late in the cycle). This mainstream sector of the market bought a console because it offered them the best balance of price/performance/convenience. Let's call these people "mainstream console gamers". They are the types of people who buy hits only — Madden, FIFA, Call of Duty, Halo only, i.e. not Kotaku readers. In fact, they probably don't visit any gaming websites.
    Without this huge group of people buying consoles or console games, the console platform holders will no longer be able to make enough money to justify developing, marketing and manufacturing the devices.
  4. Data point — Eighteen years ago our research, at my mobile gaming company, told us that 50 per cent of console owners also owned a smartphone or tablet and that this number was growing fast.
  5. Assumption — For these "mainstream console gamers" mentioned in (3), a high-end tablet or smartphone, actually suits their gaming needs better than a console in terms of the balance of price/convenience/performance. From a performance point of view it may be below console, but the device is more convenient to use, the software is cheaper or free, and the device has a low or zero perceived cost, because the user owns one anyway or pays for it in instalments via a carrier.
  6. Data point — Mobile developers and publishers are starting to target this "mainstream console gamer" aggressively. I work for a mobile publisher just slightly smaller than EA, and we are targeting it aggressively.

Given those data points and assumptions, what I think will probably happen is that, as smartphones and tablets continue to get more and more powerful (and they are increasing in power faster than any other class of device), and as more and more publishers start to actively target those "mainstream console gamers" with mobile games, more and more of those people will gradually move their gaming hours and dollars away from console gaming to their mobile devices. Without this huge group of people buying consoles or console games, the console platform holders will no longer be able to make enough money to justify developing, marketing and manufacturing the devices.

It doesn't matter that there will "always be a market for consoles" among the hardcore, because the console model as we know it relies so much on the money from the "mainstream console gamers."

In the future, I see gaming as having two main markets:

  1. Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets will serve the biggest market — covering kids, casual gamers and the mainstream console people.
  2. The core and ultra-core gamers would be served by PC gaming, which will be smaller than mobile, but that will continue to grow. Many of the old-school PC gamers I know that moved to playing games on Xbox over the last 10 years, are coming back to PC because of free-to-play and indie games, controller and TV support, as well as incredible digital distribution on platforms like Steam.

If you are a console gamer and can't ever see yourself playing games on a mobile device, then I expect you will be one of the 10s of millions who will move more and more of your hours and money to playing PC games.

Many people often dispute my position on the matter by arguing, "he would say that, he's a mobile developer!" but those people are getting cause and effect mixed up. I spent eight years of my life working on console games for companies like Microsoft, Sony and EA. The reason I moved to mobile a year and a half ago is precisely because I came to the conclusion the consoles were on their way out. I bet my career on it. That's how much I believe in it...

Ben Cousins (@benjamincousins) is a 13-year veteran of the games industry who has worked at Lionhead, Sony and EA among others. He currently runs Scattered Entertainment (http://www.scatteredentertainment.com/), a studio in Stockholm owned by Japanese mobile gaming giant DeNA. where his team are working on disruptive AAA mobile FPS The Drowning

Top image: a scene from the movie Minority Report.


    I'd still prefer a console over my phone or tablet

    And my PC over my console, and if consoles die, then PC gaming over phone or tablet.

    Sure we can't argue a Data point? I'm looking at you #4!

      Man, I did not know that smartphones and tablets were so popular in 1995. I guess kids needed a convenient way to look up Mortal Kombat fatalities.

      Yeah that's weird. Is it meant to be 18 months?

        It would have to be, without a doubt

      18 years ago in an alternate reality akin to Start Trek Voyager 3x08-09 Future's End, Part I & 2. Thou that was 1996.

    They had smart phones and tablets 18 years ago? Wow, I only had that snake game on my crappy old Nokia....

      to be honest, having snake was one of the primary reasons why i bought a nokia

      Wasn't that more late 90s for those games? But still impressive smartphones 18 years ago

    I think the problem here is that you class a 'console' — dedicated hardware designed primarily for gaming. How many current consoles are designed primarily for gaming? I primarily use my consoles as multimedia devices and rarely for gaming.

    I would agree that mobile devices are likely to compete with hand-held gaming devices, but even then allow the hand-held gaming device to make phone calls and you might as well call it a smart phone.

    Myself I wouldn't stop using my 46" TV to start gaming on a smaller screen and on screen controls. In the end you will probably use a docking station, providing power and image on a TV, using controllers to play any games. At this point it would less be a mobile device and more a current gen console.

      What you primarily use it for and what it was primarily designed for are different. The ps3 and xbox are noth primarily designed as gaming consoles.

        But calling them a dedicated gaming console is like calling an iPhone a dedicated telecommunications device.

          primarily and dedicated once again 2 different things

            Yeah, my point was more directed at the article that talks about the death of consoles as if they are "dedicated" gaming devices, and that hasn't been true for a long time.

              It is still a yes and no, he is more pointing towards the console being someones dedicated gaming preference. Rather than the consoles design itself

            dedicated hardware designed primarily for telecommunications?

      The problem as I see it is that the PS3 and 360 are decent, but not great, multimedia devices, and Sony at least seems intent on pushing those features into TV sets anyway.

    People have been predicting the death of things they don't like since the concept of prediction was invented.

      Yep. They've even been predicting the death of things they DO like. I've been hearing this for like 20 years. Eventually those guys are going to be correct but not because of their ability to read the markets.

        Well a stopped clock IS right twice a day, so if they keep spamming that something will die, they'll eventually be right and conveniently forget all the times they were wrong.

      I have heard the death of Apple back in the late 90's. Blu- ray was never going to take off. Once I commented on how "one day we would go to a video store and all we would see is DVD's". After getting told by a mate who now can not every remember making such statment, that I was joking there would be no way that happening. Same mate predicted LCD technology to die out quickly. So I will still bet on consoles.

    I would enjoy PC gaming to be the standard.

    Last edited 08/01/13 1:30 pm

    Good thing this entire article is based on factual information ... oh wait its not, its based on assumptions - or 'I reckon this is going to happen'. What a douche.

    Consoles will be here for quite some time, the PC market will continue to be here for some time as well and have its smaller 'mainstream PC gamer' group of folks playing WOW, and for those that can be bothered to build their own 'rigs' and update them every 3 months with video cards that cost the same as consoles. They will definitely be the 'l33t', but no one apart of the bigger gaming market will care.

    The mobile market will continue to grow, no doubt eating into both markets, but not a threat over all. They serve as time wasters on public transport or for kids who haven't moved onto consoles. You don't sit down for a decent gaming session with friends on mobile devices.

    Sure console gaming might be the lazy gaming alternative in comparison to PC gaming, but thats what makes it more attractive over PC gaming. You turn on, you sign in, you tune out. You dont worry about your hardware being dated, not running the latest software patches, or your underlying OS crapping out.

    But that's just what 'i reckon' based on my own observations, which clearly qualify's as the basis of an article here.

      I think you're exaggerating things on the PC front. If you're upgrading a graphics card every *year* you're doing it wrong. Let alone 3 months. You should get at least 2 years out of a mid-range $300 card and another 1 or 2 if you don't mind dropping settings (low settings still outdo consoles anyway). If someone is an enthusiast that desires the top-of-the-line everything, that's a choice that is in no way indicative of the requirements of PC gaming - that's a separate hobby altogether. It's worth mentioning the games are pretty much always cheaper, especially so later in their life, which helps to alleviate the price different for people with larger libraries.

      Software patches are largely irrelevant. PS3 and Xbox games both have patches that are usually mandatory. Steam/Origin handles the update process, so it's easy as.

      Windows as an OS is very stable. Hardware faults and people poking their nose where it doesn't belong are the most common causes of problems. The former is just as likely in consoles, the latter is preventable.

      I get what you're saying. For the majority of people, a dedicated gaming appliance makes a lot of sense. It's easier and keeps things separate. I don't think consoles are going anywhere (apart from the Wii U, lol). But the anti-PC sentiments were over the top.

      On the topic of the article: the author works for a mobile games publisher. Doesn't that make the article totally biased and a conflict of interest?

        You can't play Mario, Zelda on a PC, nor can you play Halo, Gears of War, While I agree about not upgrading a GPU every 3 months, a good point was made about a console, they are easy cheap, and play games the life of the unit without upgrade. Graphics are not the only thing going to be tested this new gaming generation. Its not going to be WOW look at how good Call of Duty ... graphics are, but its still the same as it was 4 games ago, with the same controls. Innovation is what will keep them alive, and keep people going to the store to buy it. Android is taking a big chunk out of the massive market Apple had, due to it being similar but still different. Before I go I do know Zelda and Mario have basically remained unchanged for 25 years now, its allways a different way to play them on each new console.

        Last edited 01/02/13 2:49 pm

          That's because those games are exclusives. There's nothing holding them back but agreements between the dev/publisher and Nintendo/MS. In fact, Halo was available on PC for the first 2 games until MS essentially paid Bungie to keep it on the Xbox.

          As for the consoles being easy, absolutely. Cheap depends on when you buy the unit (PS3 was like $1000 on release) and lasting the generation is a little muddier. Your wording of "life of the console" was apt considering the concerning failure rates of this generation's first models, which pushes the price up. And while the Xbox had already done so, the PS3 used the improved versions as a chance to stop backwards compatibility - a trait which lets a new PC play games no just from its generation, but 15 years back in many cases. Aside from the obvious benefits, this keeps publishers from milking the audience with HD remakes from 1 generation ago at full price. Secondly, it's a slow transition, so people might not notice, but the devs are making sacrifices more and more as the consoles age. Most current games are rendered at like 576 or 720p and scaled/stretched to 1080p at 30 fps, too. PCs offer the choice of playing at native 1080 at 120 fps. Yes, that's 4 times as smooth. Alternatively, you can play at 2560x1440, like I do. You can't really play at [email protected] only because the screens aren't built for it yet - the PCs still support it.

          Which reminds me: game pricing. PC games, while cheaper on release also drop in price faster than consoles, while remaining more available, thanks to services like Steam and GoG. This is all thanks to a more competitive and open market, as you don't have the console maker controlling every bit of digital distribution - a testament to the openness of the platform, which comes back to one important factor for pricing, versatility and multitasking: a PC is so much more than just a gaming platform. Consoles are only becoming multi-media devices, but that's a small (and highly controlled) fraction of what a PC can do.

          If you're prepared and able to deal with the PC's more complex environment, it offers a much richer experience.

          I agree that innovation is important, but so many of these companies get the wrong idea - especially Nintendo. Innovation means genuine improvement, mainly in gameplay immersion and control accuracy. Not gimmicky touchscreen and motion controls. There are cases where they do contribute, but most of the time, they are inferior control schemes for novelty's sake - ie. motion controls in Zelda would much better of if replaced by a normal controller. For shooter games, I don't think they're going to improve on a mouse for precision and speed until mind control is perfected (and invented, lol).

          Please excuse any errors - typed this on my phone and autocorrect has a tendency to make silly assumptions.

          Last edited 02/02/13 11:56 am

            Your right, there is not doubt that the PC will always dominate the hardcore gaming market. In response to my comment of lasting the entire generation, I was refering to games being able to be played not consoles crapping out, as so many 360's did.

    I agree with this article almost completely except it does not factor in the rise of the sudo console. With devices like the Ouya already on role out these will ensure the future of "console gaming". Take an Android based console, add in cloud game saves and you have a seamless transition for gaming, pretty much what the Wii U offers with games on the game pad, but so much more. Console gaming won't die, but it will radically evolve in the next 2-3 years.

      i agree
      i think there will be a convergence of console gaming and mobile gaming

      the new nvidia shield is the best example. Since it has tegra 4, it already supercedes the ouya lol and can do hdmi out like a console

        but it is ugly as sin lol not to mention we don;t know how far off it is nor its cost at this stage

        Last edited 08/01/13 2:20 pm

          to be honest
          there are already console controller peripherals for smartphones out now

          As tegra 4 is essentially a mobile phone/tablet chip, i think its a stupid idea to make a dedicated device

          a smarter idea wouldve been to sell a flagship phone and controller accessory with all these connectivity, battery and ports.

          Your standard smartphone running tegra 4 optimised games or a snapdragon 800 would work perfectly with a controller addon

          Whoever does this will swallow the psvita/nintendo DS market if they get developers onboard. i see why Sega changed to software publishing only because they wont tie themselves down to a single platform. shame about their crap releases of late tho

            The main issue with "my smartphone is my handheld" is the battery issue. 3D gaming itself is a battery killer, smartphones dont have great battery as is. So you are gonna find it difficult grabbing "hardcore" gamers with their phone, as people aren't going to sacrifice their phone all day for a couple of hours of gaming.

            This is an issue I face myself, I carry: a phone, ereader, mp3 player and my vita (on/off, depending if im playing anything) all because the battery for any one of these devices isnt enough to sustain all 4 activities through out a full day, of which I partake every day.

              as i said
              the nvidia shield has a controller with built in battery, they just need to make it as a separate accessory for you to dock your fone into and that solves the problem

              so you hdmi out to a tv and use the controller get a console experience or even use the phone as a secondary wii u style touch screen.

              You also have devices like asus padfone with extra battery life in the tablet dock

              Either way this particular scenario replaces consoles already. all we need is games

              The new Razer edge basically does all of this is a phat tablet format, which im sure will get thinner and more refined as time goes by

              mobile gaming on the go, is already possible at above console levels
              We just need to reduce fragmentation and optimise the games a little. Low battery life is an issue caused by our presently poor battery technology that hasnt improved much over the past decade. but that to me is a small price to pay

              Not that id play halo 4 on the train or anything anyway, but the key message is that theres now an obvious convergence in devices. 2-3 devices to replace most devices you already own

              Last edited 10/01/13 4:42 pm

      The consoles you refer to invalidate Data Point #1- they are not being sold At A Loss.
      For me, console games are best with simplified controls, and having 2 (or more) people competing, using a single large TV. Once you move to online competing, or complex controls, the PC is better. For gaming on the go (public transport, airplane, vacation) the tablets come out best. Phones can be considered an extremely small tablet.

    Research conducted by a mobile game company stating that mobile gaming is the future and consoles are dying.

    Remember when PC gaming died when consoles came out?

    And when Disc based media died when digital downloads were introduced?

    And when the Cinemas died with the advent of the VCR?

    Fun times.

      He addresses that point about the source of the research in the article, pretty well I think too.

      As for your examples:
      - PC gaming had a massive slump during the PS2 era. If it weren't for Steam and Blizzard, it might well be dead.
      - Disc based media is pretty much dead. Blu-Ray hasn't taken off like Sony needed it too - its a huge part of their current financial troubles. Its only going to get worse as Internet speeds increase.
      - A lot of cinema's did die with the advent of VCR. The independents are gone. The current threat though is real estate - they take a lot of space and generate very little profit (seriously, look this up - cinemas don't make much money - distributors do).

      I tend to think consoles are on the way out. In fact, I don't think the 360 is really a 'gaming' console anyway - since the last few updates, its been pushed as a multimedia device that happens to play games.

        " I don't think the 360 is really a 'gaming' console anyway - since the last few updates, its been pushed as a multimedia device that happens to play games."

        I've never used my xbox for anything other then gaming. If i want multi media - i use a pc. If i want to play a 2-D Fighter or Raging Blast 2, I play xbox.

          I agree, I think MS is making a huge mistake, but nonetheless, this appears to be what they are trying to do. Just look at the landing screen when you boot the console - MS clearly doen't think gaming is the number one function any more.

            Why would they? You put a disc in / download a game, open it, play it.... it's done it's job as a gaming console. In an effort to appeal to a more broad demographic, it would be intelligent to market it's alternative purposes and have the console introduce itself accordingly.

          If you want a Blu Ray then buy a Blu Ray they are $100, and most a mulit-media player now to.

    The dedicated gaming console is already dead, they stopped making the N64 over a decade ago. Current gen consoles are not dedicated gaming machines and haven't been since the PS1 played music CDs. They're web portals, app platforms, media hubs.

    Articles like this always spin it as though we're not going to have consoles anymore, and just doesn't seem likely. The current consoles will gradually expand their feature set and be hybridised with other technology. Maybe a PC can currently fulfil all the tasks of a console and better: with an Xbox controller I can play a copy of X-Com Enemy Unknown on my 46" LED that cost me about half via GreenManGaming what an Xbox copy would have cost me from JB hi-fi. Not to mention how out of date and bloated the console experience is now. The Xbox 360 dash is a cluttered mishmash of advertising and other features that change with every rising sun because they're still trying to decide what people actually want from their Xbox. I will be generous and assume that the current iteration of services on Xbox Live is an unofficial beta to help Microsoft finalise how they will build the Xbox v3.0. I'm sure they have a dozen people doing nothing but analysing metrics of Xbox use.

    What will that machine be used for? Hard to say. when the 360 launched in 2005, did we forsee what it would look like in 2013?

    Last edited 08/01/13 1:39 pm

      I dont want consoles to die! ive grown up on them, and i dont like how theyre becoming like downgraded computers. internet access is great, but the whole route that xbox took with controlling your kitchen sink from your bed room is ridiculous. Give me games, not a bells and whistles.

    It's too early to call for the demise of consoles. With new technology such as 3d and motion gaming there is alot to look forward too. The next gaming console will need to do more than just play games and whoever achieves this combination will be better positioned. One of the three manufacturers will drop out...

    I would say that Sony has the most to lose here - their products have taken a hit over the years, ie walkman lost out to ipod, their TV's were once the best, they are third behind Nintendo and MS with their console - can Sony's other divisions continue to support their loss making gaming division by which these other divisions are suffering as well.

    Also remember that from an economics point of view we are in a slowdown and hence this is contributing to people spending less. With regards to smartphones - well this is what most manufacturers are making and hence it's what is only available - that is if you don't have the latest smartphone you are looked down upon!

    Will be interesting if Apple bring out their iTV with built in gaming - streaming to their idevices...Apple have the dollars to spend.

    Consoles as a dedicated piece of gaming hardware might be on the way out, but its pretty clear from the marketting and the direction Microsoft and Sony are taking with their respective machines these days that they don't intend for them to be just specialised gaming hardware anymore; they're turning them into one-stop shops for all your entertainment and media needs. I would imagine the next generation of consoles to push that angle even more.

      This. My PS3 is being used more for SBS on demand and ABC iView than games. Probably a 70/30 ratio non-game based entertainment vs game based entertainment.

    I agree.
    My unprofessional and uneducated prediction:
    Next gen will be sony's last and it will only do a little bit better than the vita (in western countries). Microsoft *may* hang in for something after next gen but I have trouble seeing that happen successfully. That being said, the "720" will be a big success as long as the launch price is reasonable, and they focus on advertising as much as they have in the past few years (if they could flog a dead horse like Kinect for so long, the next console wont be a problem).
    Nintendo will live considerably longer than either, because of their slightly alternative approach to console gaming, but popularity won't peak as high at any given point.

    But hey, that's just uneducated speculation.

      I agree on every point except the Kinect - it's not a dead horse, just an early prototype of something that is almost (and eventually will be) awesome. I wasn't sold on them myself until I tried Fruit Ninja Kinect, which easily the best party game I've tried since 4-player Mario Tennis 64. It needs higher resolution and more intelligence while staying at a reasonable price point to really meet its potential, but I'd say that's inevitable.

    Ben Cousins is a mobile games developer for one of those cancerous social games companies that make shitloads of money with crappy microtransaction card-collecting games, who goes around preaching about the impending Apple/Google Utopia etc. so he obviously has a bit of a vested interest here.

    Point 1: Consoles are *initially* sold at a loss. Economies of scale, miniaturization etc. results in cost going down over time. 360 has been sold at a profit for years, and I think the same is true of the PS3 now. Wii U is profitable for Nintendo once someone buys a game, so their loss is negligible. Wii was sold at a profit all along.

    Point 2: The fact that the bulk of sales come later in the cycle means that they're more likely to have been profitable!

    Point 3: Fair assumption. The bulk of mainstream sales come when the system has the right games at the right price. I'm not sure that means people didn't want a cutting-edge system - in the case of consoles, whatever is current *is* the cutting edge. Those people are waiting for the right price to buy into that, the fact they waited more likely means they have less gaming budget.

    Point 4: By the same token, I'd expect a least 50% of gamers use the internet regularly and that number is growing fast too. Meaningless statistic.

    Point 5: You can't play Fifa or Madden or Call of Duty multiplayer on a tablet. This is not an assumption, it's a massive fallacy and leap of logic that is where the whole thing falls apart.

    Point 6: Undeniably true.

    Can we save the declarations of the death of console gaming until the consoles are actually dying, please?

    Additionally, If Ben Cousins view of the future of games is the sort of shovelware that DeNA, GREE et al pushes, then I don't want to be a gamer any more.

      sadly you are, as am I, in a small minority when it comes to your final paragraph and we don't have the $$$ that the majority does have. So developers dont give a hoot if you're a gamer or not. Sad fact.

        I'm not sure that's actually the case. Not completely anyway.

        I was more objecting to the idea that it's an all or nothing deal. There's room in the market for proper games and for crappy shovelware.

          Angry Birds - Downloaded 1 billion times since 2009
          People who played FarmVile each day as of 2010 - 32mil

          These numbers dwarf reach and players for any hardcore game you can name, even CoD and a lot of them combined. So yeah the housewife market is massive and they have a lot more cash to be harvested than most people hardcore gaming. This is generalisation, obviously, but thats how companies are looking at it.

          Of course there is room for both, but the room for proper games is becoming smaller.

            How much money do they make on average per download? It's not just about numbers.

              Angry Birds is an example of volume. FarmVille, did you look an Zynga's income for that year, holy shit, a metric butt ton is not even close to the number, all because of microtransactions, something hardcore gamers are having a lot of trouble accepting.

                Just because one angry birds exist doesn't mean everyone can have the same level of success either.

                Also it's probably not sustainable. Zynga's share price plunge on the back of their massive loss of profitability shows that quite well.

                  I am not discussing who can and cannot be a success, I am talking market shares and demographics. The money is not in hardcore gamers, deny it all you like but it isnt. Zynga died because their buisness model relied on their facebook income but once facebook changed the rules they it fell apart, that does not mean that the people who were spending so much money went broke, the money just started going to other places.

                  Stick your head in the ground about it as much as you like, hardcore gaming is no longer the cash cow it once was and all the big companies see that and they will put more time and effort into going where the money is than keeping you happy.

    Fair analysis, and if that happens I would end up as a PC gamer.

    But one question pops into my mind; how much of the AAA releases out there exists because of the console market size? How would that much reduced PC market look like (compared with the size of consoles + PC today).

    I'm afraid the amount and variety of high calibre titles may be far smaller than it is today.

      But don't you see, that is our advantage, once the real big money has been sucked out it will only leave the passionate behind. Sure we won't get as many huge bloated budget games, but a lot of that is becoming more cinema than games anyway. What we will get is games made by people who are passionate about making games again.

      Not to say there isn't those people working already, but the exposure is almost impossible to get and the expectations are too high at the moment.

      Last edited 08/01/13 2:04 pm

        Sorry, can't see that as an advantage. Maybe you're not fond of today's AAA titles, but I am. That's the reason I would become a PC gamer and not a mobile gamer if I ever leave consoles.

        Big games need big money and a big market no matter how passionate the team may be,

        Should consoles die and the PC fail to provide me with the big experience I'm after, I'd be done as a gamer.

        Last edited 08/01/13 4:15 pm

          Games like Hawkin did not need a big team or big money to make it to market, why does everything? There are people talented enough out there to pull off amazing games through their own drive.

    Your data points and assumptions are a bit shaky. Specifically:

    1 - Unconvincing. Loss-leading is a fairly conventional business practice, within and outside of technology products. Your data is incomplete, as the PS3 in particular would need to factor in things like blu-ray sales, as this was a leading feature of the PS3 (as a "low"-cost player) for its first 2-3 years. There's no evidence that the model is unsustainable under current conditions, or even some of your proposed future conditions.
    2 - Doesn't that contradict your point one, to some extent? It can't be a coincidence that the large scale adoption happened at the same time the console sales were moving into profit (particularly as the price charged for the hardware was falling)
    3 - Alternatively, it could just as likely indicate the point at which gamers purchase their second console, i.e. when PS3 early adopters purchase an Xbox, or vice-versa. I bought my PS3 in November 2010, two-and-a-half years after I bought my Xbox.
    4 - There's clearly something wrong with this figure, so I can't really gauge it (unless your company sidelines in time machines). If you mean 18 months, I shouldn't have to tell a develop of your experience that "correlation doesn't equal causation".
    5 - That's a very broad assumption that relies on the previous assumption being true (which a very long bow already). Aside from the issue of it being petitio principii, there should be enough evidence to verify it, so it really should be a data point, if valid (I suspect it isn't).
    6 - Not really a data point - there isn't any data (unless there's a way to quantitatively and empirically assess "aggressive targeting").

    I'm not outright disputing your conclusion, but your data and assumptions aren't great, which isn't a good sign. I suspect the movement from console to either PC or mobile device isn't frictionless, i.e. you're also assuming that all console gamers will eventually choose one or the other, which is unlikely, and that there are two types of gamers: causal and hard-core. That's an oft-made but rarely tested assumption about the gaming market.

    I wouldn't be overly confident in these types of predictions. The argument made in the article is a logical one. But the world doesn't run on logic.
    I could believe consoles eventually becoming a smaller business than it has been in the last few years. But I don't think it'll ever go away entirely. I'm sure it will fluctuate a lot, like everything else does.

    That said, I'd love it if PC was the default gaming system.

    Data cannot be argued for or against because data in itself is not an argument, it's a metric that can be applied to any argument. You can get the same bit of data and use it to argue 2 contradictory views.

    The fact that the author's opening shot is more or leas 'you cannot argue with factual data' is flat out dumb for so many reasons.

    Not only does he fail to include all of the data, especially the parts that contradict his point, one cannot make any assumptions that the current costs and losses of current gen consoles has any bearing on future generations of gaming technology.

    It's so mind numbingly ignorant I couldn't read it all.

    Gaming is in flux, that's the only data you can believe. Gaming is expanding to house a more varied range of experiences and budgets and gaming tech is expanding beyond dedicated consoles.

    Last edited 08/01/13 2:09 pm

    I think the only border between PC gaming and console gaming is that you play your PC on a monitor, not on your TV. With Steam Big Picture, and the possible Steam Box on the horizon, I'd say that by the time the next gen of gaming consoles hits, the PC will be right next to them in the loungeroom competing for the gamers dollar, except with an infinitely expandable library, a ridiculous amount of flexibility, and constantly upgradable hardware. The thing that will kill the gaming console will be the loungeroom gaming/media PC.

    Last edited 08/01/13 2:13 pm

      "ridiculous amount of flexibility, and constantly upgradable hardware" - These are the exact points that make console games mass market and PC niche.

    2009 - PCs are dying!
    2010 - Consoles are dying!
    2011 - PCs are dying!
    2012 - Consoles are dying!

    This just in, eggs are good for you. No wait! They're bad for you! No, wait again, they're good for you! Bad for you! Good for you! Bad for you! Good for you!

    Consoles are dying until they're not, at which point PCs are dying until they're not.
    You can't predict the future. Whether or not PCs or Consoles "die" is something that no one can predict.

    But if you think you can, there's a killing to be made in the stock market. Try your luck, if you want to.

    Wouldn't leave console gaming if you paid me.

    It will never die. It may evolve, like becoming cloud gaming devices, or something like the Shield is proposing, but console gaming will never die.

      Console gamer since the Commodore 64, but if console hardware goes away I'll just build a gaming-capable HTPC, buy a decent controller, and treat it like a console. Actually I might end up doing that anyway.

        It's not the same.

        I tried to get back into PC gaming. I've got my 360 controller hooked up to it, got Steam Big Picture mode, but nup.

        You can just tell. You can FEEL that it's an impostor. It's not, and never wil be the same.

          Well that's a bit discouraging, but it's still early days for Big Picture, and I expect more TV-love with the Steambox on its way.

          The whole HTPC thing is on a backburner for now anyway since I got my Raspberry Pi up and running, not great but perfectly adequate for a tenth of the price, so I'm not in any rush.

    Nonsense, I'll have my hat ready with some sauce if this ever comes to fruition.

    What about hardware design? Some people prefer xbox 360 controllers, PS3 controllers or Nintendo's controls. Some prefer keyboard/mouse, alot of people don't like touch or the clunky nature of kinect for gaming. Sure this is all going to get better and things might change, but I seriously don't see any of the new interfaces progressing to the point of disruption til the next "generation". The most disruptive thing is digital distribution and last time I checked, every device can do it, all the players have their own methods. The only thing slowing it down is the speed of the internet, oh and remember when people used to say PC gaming was dying?

    I think consoles have future-proofed themselves a little bit, and will continue to do so.

    1. Multimedia platforms

    The recent gens (starting with PS2) have been able to play the dominant media format of the time (DVDs for most consoles, PS3 innovated by selling the then-cheapest BluRay player on the market). They aren't therefore entirely dedicated gaming machines - they can serve a purpose beyond that.

    They also stream digital TV channels and can access ABC and SBS on demand (probably others too, I haven't checked). Expect even bigger things next gen.

    2. Loyalty/commitment/investment

    The advent of persistent gaming profiles (and garnished with the addictive "gamerscore" or "trophies", depending on system) has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that many (not all) people want their gaming history immortalised. Assuming profiles will carry on from current gen to next gen, that alone will suck people in, keep them on the upgrade treadmill.

    Otherwise, what do they have to show for their thousands of hours of gaming? Just some memories that can be exploited for nostalgia fifteen years later.

    3. PC gaming is not yet perfect

    Last time I tried to game on my PC, I discovered that my hardware was incompatible with some games. Not insufficient. Incompatible. The near-infinite range of rigs out there mean that not all games will work in all situations. A standardised console hardware set-up has a much more predictable outcome. For hardcore gamers who can sort out their own hardware, this is not such a problem, but for mum and dad buying for the family, a console is always the hassle-free option.

    Also, a standardised hardware base often makes things easier for developers.

    I'm willing to accept that the nature of console gaming will change. Of course it will. That's obvious. But I don't think it's going away entirely any time soon.

    Last edited 08/01/13 3:11 pm

    Also, the title of this article sounds like murderous plotting, the whole opinion sounds murderous. So much death, don't underestimate gamers brand loyalty to different platforms.

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