Bad generation
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 22 May 2013, 9:24 am
There are a handful of console games I really loved. But the majority of the games I played were always on the PC, and thus I was always annoyed by the ongoing "PC gaming is dying" discussion and the idea that at some point in time all gaming would happen on consoles. Well, it turned out differently. These days we have more game platforms than ever, there is some quite good gaming to be had on tablets and smart phones of different operating systems. And the new generation of consoles is looking as sickly as never before.

First through the gate of the eighth generation of consoles was the Wii U, and by all accounts it is not a success. It is selling significantly less well than the previous Wii, and in some markets the old Wii still outsold its successor Wii U *today*. EA came out saying the Wii U was "crap", said they wouldn't make Wii U games, then paddles back and said they'd make a few. So overall reception was mixed at best.

Then came the announcement of the PS4, which failed to convince people that this would be a must-buy. And now we got the announcement of the XBox One, which pretty much evokes the same echo. So up to now the next generation of consoles doesn't look very promising. This might very well turn out to be the least successful "generation" of consoles since a long time.

I believe that there are many reasons for that. One is that consoles have lost an advantage they had on price. It used to be that a PC that cost as much as a console was pretty much useless for gaming. But in the last years system requirements have gone up slower than system performance of the average PC, and today most games run perfectly well on a cheap PC. Another reason is that both PCs and mobile platforms have better multi-purpose controls. If I can, I browse the internet on my PC. If that isn't available, I'd choose my iPad. My PS3, although it comes with an internet browser, would clearly be my last choice for that activity. If due to limited funds you could only have one internet-connected device in your home, would you want that device to be a console?

And even if you would, why would you want a next generation console instead of one of the current generation? If you use your console to watch Netflix movies or DVDs, or surf the internet, you don't gain much from an upgrade. Only if you mainly want to play the latest games is a next generation console the way to go. And that is an expensive proposition. Between Steam sales on the PC and $0.99 games on tablets, the $60+ games on consoles look pricey today in comparison. You can nearly get a mini-console like the Ouya for that money.

I'm not saying that console gaming is dying. But I would say that it is further away from domination of the game market than ever. The future will be a lot more diverse, and the time Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft had as top dogs is over.
Tobold's Blog

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