Could games consoles become extinct?

Could mobile gaming could become so popular that it could overtake traditional console gaming?

Could mobile gaming could become so popular that it could overtake traditional console gaming?

Over on IndustryGamer there's an interesting interview with id Software's John Carmack.

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"One thing that we hear a lot, especially from our older developers, is, 'I don't spend a lot of time sitting down in front of my 360 or PS3, but I pull out my iPad and play some little game all the time.' It's a different experience though... it's a diversion rather than a destination. And while they're certainly powerful enough now to make destination titles, that's still not really what's doing particularly well there. But it certainly is a worry."

Carmack's a smart guy, and I think he's captured the state of play (pardon the pun) well here. At the moment there's enough of a gulf between a mobile device (such as a smartphone or a tablet) and a games console. People approach a mobile device with a different set of expectations compared to a games console. Carmack is spot on in defining mobile as 'diversionary' and games consoles as a 'destination.'

But things change rapidly. Look at how the likes of the iPhone and iPad have literally come from nowhere to become a really big player in gaming. Give these devices a few more years and who knows where they'll be and what they'll be capable of. Carmark says that we can be certain that in 2 years mobile devices will be more powerful than today's games consoles. This is something that the likes of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo need to be thinking about - the lifecycle for a games console is many years, and if they're competing only on power and performance alone, mobile devices could catch up with and pass that of the console, forcing a premature refresh. Console accessories such as Microsoft's Kinect hands-free controller are important in helping consoles maintain a lead over mobile devices.

I don't think that games consoles are at risk of going extinct any time soon, but I do believe that just in the same way that consoles usurped the PC, mobile platforms could certainly displace consoles are the primary gaming platform.