Sandy Duncan, CEO of YoYo Games and the person responsible for setting up and running the European Xbox business for Microsoft, believes that console gaming will "die in the next 5 to 10 years."
"The industry is fundamentally driven by technology. I think dedicated games devices i.e. consoles (and handhelds) will die [out] in the next 5 to 10 years. The business model is very risky and the costs associated with creating new hardware are incredibly high," Duncan told That VideoGame Blog in an interview to be published tomorrow.
Beyond wishful thinking, I really don't know what information Duncan is basing this prediction on. While I do agree that the gaming industry as a whole has become a risky business, that's no different to, say, the movie business. Some games make a profit (and when they do, it's usually quite staggering), others sink.
One reason offered by Duncan for the demise of the console is web distribution:
"In fact in 5 to 10 years I don’t think you’ll have any box at all under your TV, most of this stuff will be 'virtualized' as web services by your content provider."
The web has been vital to some sectors of gaming - World of Warcraft, gaming on cellphones/iPhone, Steam downloads - the DVD is still king when it comes to delivering games. Maybe when fiber connections become commonplace there will be enough bandwidth for delivering an immersive gaming experience, but right now we're far, far away from that. We have the disk storage capacities, but the bandwidth isn't there.
But the main reason why I don't see console and handheld gaming dying any time soon is out obsession with gadgets is still as strong as ever. While games consoles have enjoyed success, the reason that they've neither become dominant nor been killed off by the PC is the fact that how people game is become more diverse. People want to game while sitting in front of their TVs, while sitting in front of their PCs, and while on the move. I'm not seeing any signs of convergence. If anything, I'm seeing the exact opposite.