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The Game Console Is Dead. What Will Replace It? (wired.com)
27 points by mtgx 1818 days ago | hide | past | web | 46 comments | favorite

Sure, in theory you could replace an existing console with a tablet that has HDMI out and a range of bluetooth controllers.

The selling point of consoles is that they provide a game playing experience right out of the box. You know that the hardware in the box will be capable of running games for some time. Compare this to an android tablet or iOS device where there is likely to be a replacement in a year with uprated graphics and suddenly game developers don't want to support your old thing any more.

The Xbox360 also ships with a controller that is standardised so will be well supported by all games and you know the quality is reasonable rather than having to dig around looking for third party peripherals.

A dedicated console also has to make less concessions for portability and power. An Xbox360 is not expected to have to run from a battery and if adding an extra pound on inch of thickness to the design helps reduce costs then it is usually a clear win.

OTOH this makes a nice change from "PC gaming is dead, consoles will take over" that I hear every so often.

The next big seismic change in gaming is likely to come from devices like the occulus rift rather than tablets.

> Compare this to an android tablet or iOS device where there is likely to be a replacement in a year with uprated graphics and suddenly game developers don't want to support your old thing any more.

This is actually what will make it really hard for the traditional video game consoles. Mobile hardware evolution is way faster than video game hardware evolution. It won't take long for it to catch up to the video game consoles in the next cycle. Moreover, the app stores in general just have a lot more variety from indie developers.

With the resurgence of PC gaming from Steam and others, it doesn't look too great for consoles.

I don't feel that traditional video game consoles will completely die given the innovative stuff that both MS and Nintendo have been able to do, but it will be a lot harder for them to reap the same profits as they did in the past.

It's difficult to say that mobile evolution is faster until we have seen the next gen consoles. It will be difficult to beat a console in terms of price/performance since there is no portability/battery power tradeoff for consoles and console makers seem happy to subsidise the console in order to sell more games (compared to Apple who make big profits per iPad sold).

A PC resurgence doesn't have to mean the death of consoles, we go through this cycle many times.

In the mid 90s consoles had an edge because PCs were expensive and difficult. In the late 90s/early 2000s PCs had an edge because of better graphics , more internet gaming options as well as the modding scene. Late 2000s it began to swing back in the consoles favour again because of Xbox live etc as well as HDTV.

There's no reason that next gen consoles cannot include plenty of indie games via a digital download marketplace, Xbox already has this to an extent.

What if Airplay became Gameplay and you could throw the game you had on your phone up on your nice big TV via Apple TV or similar device. Then in fact your controller is the game. when to get new hardware and game play experience is left in your hands.

I don't know how it is for IOS developers but I have been quite happy how well apps have remained playable and available from iPhone version to iPhone version.

I assume you mean using the iPhone itself as a game controller?

The big problem with that is that your eyes are focused on the TV and at the same time you are trying to control it without any tactile feedback.

The beauty of the Xbox controller is that I can feel the position of the stick and buttons with my fingers which makes it easy to make small adjustments. Also things like the trigger buttons allow me to feel how far down I am pressing. Contrast that to a touchscreen where your thumb could easily slide off the area that is emulating the stick without you even realising.

Regards compatibility between iPhones, that's simple enough for games like angry birds but when you get to more demanding "console like" games you get to the point where last years hardware doesn't cut it. For example "Real racing 3" was the game demo'd with the iPhone5, I'm guessing it won't run too well (if at all) on an iPhone 3GS.

The iPhone3GS was released in 2009, the Xbox360 was released in 2005 and still runs new games.

AirPlay can already put your game on the tv via AppleTV. What were you thinking of in addition to that?

It needs to work in reverse. Instead of sending a video stream, send the app itself and run on the ATV (or equivalent), using your phone/tablet for control. The Apple TV is already using binned A5s and running iOS, this wouldn't be a huge leap.

Out of all of the players out there, Apple could do this the quickest and do it well.

Something between an Android box from Google or a Steam console could come in second. Apple is 95%+ of the way there, they just have to provide a great user experience playing iOS games on the TV. As pointed out, Airplay is unusable due to lag. The output cord gets rid of the lag issue but is too short, cumbersome, and limited.

As for Google or Valve, they have compatibility issues that will make for a rough ride. It could take perhaps a year or two before we started to see an adequate volume of games, and new games, that played natively at an acceptable level.

I agree with the original poster, that this will not be "the next big seismic change." To me this is more about opening the console up to a far bigger market of developers, which helps to hasten to pace of innovation. That will make way for the next seismic change. Or, as I say in relation to my business "A giant leap ahead rather than many tiny micro percentage gains."

Having used it it also sucks latencywise due to wifi. Try playing infinity blade on airplay. Not a fun time.

This, and other "X is Dead" articles are not only unproductive, they are almost always wrong.

Let's consider other things that have been declared dead by journalists and bloggers in recent years.

1) Microsoft is dead: http://www.paulgraham.com/microsoft.html

2) The PC/Desktop: http://www.thestrategyweb.com/desktop-is-dead-tablets-on-the...

3) CD's: http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/crossfade/2011/11/cds_are_dea...

4) DVD's: http://www.investmentu.com/2011/February/trans-world-enterta...

5) Linux on the Desktop: http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2012/08/gnome-founder-says-deskto...

That's just a small sampling and each and every one is built on an incorrect premise. That premise is that technologies "die" when something better comes along.

This could not be farther from the truth. It is actually very rare when a new technology or device comes along which is so superior, so much more accessible, and so much more cost effective than its predecessor that the predecessor fades completely from view. In fact, it's so rare that I cannot think of a single example of this having occurred since Cassette tapes were upstaged by CD's.

Can you?

Yes, I'd much prefer if journalists would switch from using "X is dead" to "X is dying".

Dying is a much better analogy than dead. Dead things don't do anything. Dying things might die quickly (cassettes) or they might die slowly (typewriters). They might die quietly (independent bookstores) or they might lash out and take as many with them as they can (Hollywood). They might be put out their misery by their owner (Flash), remain on life support (Yahoo), experience a miraculous recovery (IBM), or rise like a Phoenix from the ashes (Mozilla).

Betamax versus VHS. VHS versus DVD - VHS is effectively dead now.

5¼" discs versus 3½" discs versus USB sticks and email.

Every example so far is with physical media, but part of the premise is that established market leaders die as a result of innovation. The CompuServe/AOL model was once prevalent, and now has faded completely away. MySpace was the top dog, until it wasn't.

CDs and DVDs aren't dead? Surely there may be some residual activity going on, but physical distribution of data altogether is mostly done for. Dropbox and cdn's pretty much solved the problem of sharing data efficiently.

Everyone seems to be beating up on this story. The title is link bait & hyperbole but let me argue why I think the writer is at least pulling on the right threads.

1. Processing power won't matter, we've crossed a line where the real bottleneck is content creation not pixel rendering. Assassins Creed III at 300 people over 3 years shows this. Your next phone will be powerful enough to render the best games we make.

2. Your second next phone will have a good way to get this to your TV. Either through a wireless standard or a well designed dock.

3. Yes, controllers matter for some games. But everyone has agreed what a controller should be (dual analog, d-pad, start/select, 4 buttons, and 2 shoulders, 2 triggers). Companies will make good BT versions of these and this problem is solved.

4. The expected price of games is dropping, and console makers are simply in denial about this.

5. Set-top boxes running Android, like Ouya, for many of the above reasons, are going to gain a strong foothold. They're going to be the "just works" solution you buy at walmart. They're going to get bluetooth controllers into you hands. They're going to get you used to gaming on a TV for cheap & free.

I don't know if the expected price of games is going down. Skyrim is £34.99 on Steam (maybe $60 or so) and sold a recording breaking 10 million units on the platform alone.

So that is £350,000,000 in revenue from one platform.

By the time the game is at bargain bin prices they probably won't be too far from making a billion from it across all platforms once you factor in DLC and everything else.

Not sure about numbers regards processing power, but if you compare an iPhone 5 to something like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TtgW20IEm0 (CryEngine 3) it looks like that gulf will take come crossing yet if next gen console games look like that.

Stuff like the Ouya is interesting, but I'd be surprised if big publishers would want to touch it with a pole. The open-ness would probably lead to mass scale piracy.

How do you see your first and fourth points interacting? Companies trying to make up for lower sales prices on volume, while still taking ever-more time and effort to create the content?

I admit I don't know, and as always the industry will exist on a spectrum not as a couple dots. But I think the whole spectrum is shifting such that only a few franchises/studios can pull off a $60 game, and it will be so risky to start that effort up that it will only be trusted to those few. You'll still see block buster titles from block buster names at block buster prices but fewer... and everything else will move down the price spectrum.

What's up with journalists? It's like they have to kill something every week or so.

They have to perform ritual sacrifices in order to ensure page views.

They need clicks to make money so they write articles that are controversial.

The title was pretty linkbait but the content was actually not bad.

No one's yet mentioned Wired's "The Web is Dead" headline from a few years back?


Don't forget their even more infamous "Push media will kill the Web" story from 1997:


"The Web browser itself is about to croak. And good riddance."


I know the title is hyperbole but I do agree with the point made in the article that the business models are going to have to change in the industry. Honestly I don't care if I'm playing a game on a phone, console, or PC; as long as it's fun and engrossing I will play it.

I've downloaded a lot of games on my Android and iOS devices and a lot of the action games have touch controls that are awkward for me to use. On the iPhone 5 my fingers cover up the speaker when I'm holding it for console-type game.

Also I'm not completely sold on in-app purchases. I've tried a bunch of the top games and what little gameplay you're allowed to have for some of these games before you need to start paying to play is low. It's obvious to me that they designed the games primarily to extract money from me through some flaw in human behavior as opposed to putting out a comprehensive experience.

One direction I'd love to see the gaming industry go is to see some form of resurrected OnLive. I get my music via subscription and love it. I really like the idea of some type of "all-you-can-eat" game subscription service kind of like what PSN is doing right now.

The other problem that was mentioned in the article was the cost of building some of these really nice games. It reminds me of movies in the 90's and 2000's: lots of money spent on a flop at the end of the day. I really don't know the answer to this one. I love playing games with fancy graphics but know that a studio can only gamble on a few of those these days. They're way too high-budget for an indie developer to make as well.

"Pundits and developers presume Sony and Microsoft will quickly follow suit with their own updated game consoles — also the first in years — though neither have confirmed it."

From August: http://www.ibtimes.com/microsoft-acknowledges-new-xbox-conso...

and Durango was not a well kept secret to begin with, nor do I think it was particularly meant to be.

"None of the game industry insiders Wired interviewed for this story were ready to call the age of the consoles well and truly over."

But this Journalist is.

"Your smartphone is quickly getting to the point where its hardware could display good-looking games in 1080p on your television, and it won’t be long before your phone and TV can sync up without cables."

I regularly play videos from my phone to my TV without cables, and have played games the same way (iPhone to AppleTV using airplay) Is there some meaning to "sync up" I am not grasping, or is he making predictions of things that are already widely available? Later he mentions WHDI, which has also seems to have been around for more than a year and does look nicer in some ways (low latency) but doesn't seem to be really taking off.

As long as I can play my epic multi-year effort, triple A, Uncharted/Gears Of War games on a giant screen, I don't care what you call the platform.

This article can't predict the death of consoles until the PS4 and XBox 720 come out and actual sales indicate things one way or another.

Just because touch gaming has a new and growing market doesn't mean the established players are finished.

My Xbox 360, which replaced my $70 cable subscription with Netflix, Hulu and a bunch of other apps, is still very much alive.

Part of the point the article made is that your Xbox 360 being used for Netflix and Hulu is no longer a game console, but is instead an internet connected set top box that happens to also have game playing capabilities in it.

Microsoft makes no profit on the console itself; it depends on licensing fees on games sold. Your console, if you aren't buying games for it, would be a loss for Microsoft if not for the Xbox Live subscription required to use Netflix or Hulu.

These services are now being built into TV's themselves themselves.

But so far, they're terrible at it. The difference in usability between my Vizio TV's preloaded Netflix and such vs. the Xbox with Kinect is so vast it's not even funny. The living room is where voice command really shines.

It's hard to tell if they are poorly written, or the hardware is too slow, but I agree.

At least it is functional once you've got a video going though.

Yes, and the TV makers are /clueless/ about user interface. I mean, it's comically bad. Samsung has a gesture and voice recognition system in one of their high-end TVs and I was actually laughing at how miserable it was ("TV, channel two!" and it would turn off, that kind of thing).

Now, team up a TV maker with someone with a sense of design and you're talking turkey. (Now you get into cool stuff like: TV makers really only want to run Linux, 'cause it's free, which counts out Microsoft and Apple, and TVs have to meet rather interesting power constraints, which are often tough to meet).

True, but once you've bought a TV you're very limited; none of my smart TVs offer Netflix, for example. They are capable (they run BBC iPlayer, LoveFilm, YouTube etc) but LG aren't exactly releasing updates thick and fast.

What will replace it? Hopefully better journalism...

This article reminded me, that I did pay $60 for madden on the PS3 last weak, after some Android game reminded me that football games are actually quite fun. The problem was not, that there was anything wrong with the Android game, in fact it is very well designed, the problem was the tablet platform. Especially that for a action game one needs an interface with haptic feedback, such that the interface is just there without looking for the image of a button on a touch screen.

Theoretically it would be possible to attach a controller to the tablet, but what kind of controller? Four buttons, 6, 8? With an D pad? So the game makers do not have a clear target for development of an interface. Furthermore already for consoles we know that any additional hardware, like a Kinect, multiplies the target market by a rather small fraction. ( And a tablet is simply too small to have a dedicated controller.)

This is of course not saying that there is no market for tablet games, but that consoles ( and of course also PCs) will have a place in any future gaming landscape. Simply because the interface devices are better suited for action games.

I just checked on my Xbox. It seems to be very alive and has no intentions of dying until the next generation arrives.

Really, this is the second article I found here today claiming that the console's dying. It isn't. Mobile isn't gonna kill it because it is an entirely different animal. When I sit down in front of my Xbox and play a game, I expect to be busy for hours on end. When playing a mobile game, I expect to be entertained until I step off the train.

Again it's a case of "Tablets can do this and that today, so they're totally gonna kill off everything else". They're not. They are capable and have filled an interesting hole in the market but they're not going to kill off the PC or the game console. However they're not gaming machines. Modern gamer computers are incredibly powerful in order to render the most vivid scenes. Even the best tablets don't come anywhere near them at the moment and they're not going to for the next couple of years either.

I thought PC's were the ones who were dead?

PCs are dead, Consoles are dead, Windows is dead, Java is dead, basically everything that's not an iPad = dead.

The PC as a platform for gaming was absolutely dying around the time of the current generation console launch, the console was meeting it (price of games, internet multiplayer, AAA title selection) or beating it (ease of use, cost of hardware, marketing) in nearly every way. At that time the best advantage to the PC was the potential for better graphics, but the cost of a graphics card to do this was more than the cost of an entire console. Plenty of industry vets joked that the PC would soon be only for hardcore FPS or MMO players.

Since then no one thing has happened to bring the PC back to life, nor has there been a single moment where the course changed. Changing to digital distribution, spearheaded by Steam, has arguably been the biggest savior to PC gaming, but the declining price of both good hardware and new games, the rise of indie titles, and the spread of gaming to OS X have all been significant contributors.

PC gaming has grown massively for the past 5 years. Brick and Mortar PC retail is dead, digital distribution is king.

I spent 6 hours last night using my PS3 - but game consoles are "dead."

I had a Pong tournament... but Pong is "dead".

And not two years ago they pronounced the desktop dead for gaming and the console was the platform that game developers would focus on in the future...

Wired declares something dead?

I am shocked. Shocked. (Shocked.)

What? I love my Xbox.

This better be wrong, or Steam on Linux better accelerate things more than even I'm hoping for.

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