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Do You Believe The Next-Gen Consoles Will Be The Last?
#1
Original article: http://www.psxextreme.com/ps4-news/665.html

Excerpt:
Ben Dutka Wrote:Some analysts say the next generation of video game consoles will be the last. Do you believe that? And do you want that?

...

what do you expect to see in ten years time?
I can understand this line of thinking. Digital distribution is already making the actual physical machine less important, as your library exists in the cloud wherever you go, and in a lot of cases so do your saves. Going into the next generation it doesn't really matter which Xbox One or PS4 or PC I have nearby, because it doesn't take much time at all to log in and continue exactly where I left off. If streaming picks up then the machine itself becomes even less important, as all it would take is a decent internet connection and a machine that can stream HD video.

As this next generation starts it does seem like Sony and Microsoft have had to take steps to accommodate physical stores like GameStop, simply because right now they still need that storefront to sell the machines and because the broadband penetration isn't quite there yet. GameStop's importance is dictating the policy with used games, it's limiting the ability to have actual reasonable prices on Live/PSN because they can't heavily undercut the stores, and it's looking more and more like a relic. Online stores like Amazon are already selling digital PC games, and it's not hard to see them switching over to selling access keys for Live/PSN/Steam instead, keeping retailers in the loop.

So yeah, I'm expecting this generation to have a big focus on untethering you from a single machine, making physical copies of games seem irrelevant, and really making another round of separate consoles seem like an irrelevance.

As for what would happen next... Well. I'd love for PSN and Live to just become PC storefronts like Steam, because Steam could do with some real competition and it's obvious that publishers like EA can't do it. As long as they have a console Microsoft won't do it, because for some reason they seem to treat their PC offerings as direct competition to their console, rather than an extension of it.

Assuming the opinion persists that PC gaming is too complicated then the other option is the oft-discussed Universal Console, the idea that everybody gets together and agrees on a generic, fixed-spec machine (removing all R&D costs), which anybody can sell and stick their own branding on. You'd start it up and choose to log into Live or PSN or whatever, where you would then have access to that specific library, friends and servers, and of course they would be just as accessible (within reason) on PCs, tablets, smartphones and the like. To be honest, to me that just sounds like a stepping stone to not having consoles anyway.

It all depends upon Sony, Microsoft and everybody not actually wanting a console though. It's possible one of them is committed to the idea of their own machine that only they have true control of, in which case their competition would likely have no choice but to follow suit. It doesn't look like that to me though, and I think this generation it's going to be service, the network and the connection, that's going to be where all the focus lies.

I think it's going to be an interesting generation, anyway.
ATTENTION - Unless otherwise specified, all opinions stated in the above post should be interpreted as the personal opinions of The Benny (Macho) and not objective fact, even when said opinions are inarguably superior to all other opinions in the thread.

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#2
I wouldn't be surprised if Sony started releasing HDTV's with a gaming adapter built in. What I would wonder is how would the competitors handle this transition if they were to stop building a stand-alone console.
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#3
I don't know if it will be the last, but the traditional model is on its way out. This will almost certainly be the last generation where places like GameStop are relevant, and that's a wonderful thing. Used games suck, and stores that prey on the poverty of gamers are worse.

I think there will still be a need for a physical box of some sort for quite awhile, but I see Nintendo dropping out of the console business and focusing on handheld gaming in the not-too-distant future. With the exception of the Wii, which was a fluke, they've had abysmal console sales since the N64, and the Wii U is the worst flop since the Jaguar. Sony and MS lost a combined 8 billion on the PS3 and 360, and both companies aren't going to keep that sort of bleeding up. I think this next gen is going to be more important than any other one for these companies.

We very well could end up with a one console + PC model sooner than we think, and personally I'm all for it.
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#4
The Benny (Macho) Wrote:Digital distribution is already making the actual physical machine less important, as your library exists in the cloud wherever you go, and in a lot of cases so do your saves. Going into the next generation it doesn't really matter which Xbox One or PS4 or PC I have nearby, because it doesn't take much time at all to log in and continue exactly where I left off.

... But you still need a machine to run those games on. Digital distribution does not change anything in that respect. The need for the physical machine is still there even when digitally distributed - it's only the physical distribution media that are soon obsolete.

The Benny (Macho) Wrote:If streaming picks up then the machine itself becomes even less important, as all it would take is a decent internet connection and a machine that can stream HD video.

Now this I believe is the real threat to consoles.
But I believe we are far off such a reality. With each new generation comes a new level of technical advancement, and as such leaves the power of the streaming services behind.
At least I hope so!
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#5
Beamboom Wrote:Now this I believe is the real threat to consoles.
But I believe we are far off such a reality. With each new generation comes a new level of technical advancement, and as such leaves the power of the streaming services behind.
At least I hope so!

We've had things like GameTap and OnLive for awhile now already. Sony is investing in Gakai, and the only thing that's really needed at this point, regardless of the advancement of games, is deeper broadband penetration in major markets.

Here in the US, Google is using a few major cities as a test bed for Google Fiber, which is ridiculously fast and amazingly cheap internet using the series of dark fiber laid throughout the country decades ago. They've already bought up all the fiber, so it's just a matter of if/when they want to go national with it. If they do, it will radically increase broadband penetration in the largest world market almost overnight.

Most of the major markets in Europe and Asia already has the broadband needed, as well. Also, we're going to see diminishing returns even more diminished in the upcoming generation; graphical and other technical advancements are going to be less and less. The One and PS4 aren't nearly the same leap in quality as the 360 and PS3 were, which weren't nearly as big a leap as the PS2/Xbox era was. Within another generation or two, at most, we'll have hit the wall.

It also just makes a ton of financial sense for console manufacturers to go this route. If they can sell a subscription service instead of having to invest in R&D, manufacturing, distribution and repair of a console base, they can save hundreds of millions.

Like it or not it's probably the future, eventually.
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#6
Spartan119 Wrote:Like it or not it's probably the future, eventually.

You may be right. Things tend to arrive faster than expected in the world of technology. But I doubt it's something that happens during the coming generation or the next.

Cause it's not only the bandwidth that is the factor here. They need to have the computing power to run all those games too.
The smaller games can easily be streamed as soon as the bandwidth is in place. But I hope the top tier games will keep growing in scale and complexity on such a rate that local execution of code will remain highly required.

* Beamboom is crossing fingers!
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#7
People like consoles as much as they love the games they play on them. No matter what advances in tech and distribution comes and goes, people will get fatigued after X amount of years and will look for the next machine to play nice shiny games on even if digital is the future. So imo no, the next gen isn't the last.
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#8
Beamboom Wrote:You may be right. Things tend to arrive faster than expected in the world of technology. But I doubt it's something that happens during the coming generation or the next.

Cause it's not only the bandwidth that is the factor here. They need to have the computing power to run all those games too.
The smaller games can easily be streamed as soon as the bandwidth is in place. But I hope the top tier games will keep growing in scale and complexity on such a rate that local execution of code will remain highly required.

* Spartan119 is crossing fingers!


Moore's Law affects games, too. We're hitting the ceiling, and soon. We already should have hit that ceiling according to Moore's Law, just this year, but we as a society have scrounged a few extra cycles out of it.

Either way, it won't be long until games hit a max ceiling, after which it's not about the hardware, but about the delivery.
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#9
Beamboom Wrote:... But you still need a machine to run those games on. Digital distribution does not change anything in that respect. The need for the physical machine is still there even when digitally distributed - it's only the physical distribution media that are soon obsolete.
Absolutely. Right now though Sony and Microsoft are dependent upon external stores like GameStop or Amazon both for selling software and hardware. If one of them stopped selling physical games and relied solely on its digital offerings then GameStop in particular would just stop selling their console. They make more money on pre-owned games than anything else, whereas Sony/Microsoft see zero money at all from those sales.

Steam has a massive level of flexibility with its prices that Live/PSN have yet to demonstrate, even though Steam doesn't actually control the hardware side at all, and Steam has also played a big part in PC gaming all but disappearing from physical stores. The console digital stores don't really try to compete with the physical stores at all despite having none of the same expenses, because they need to maintain a good relationship with companies that are borderline parasitic.

If we're talking about 2020 or later before the next generation is due then I can see a situation where this dependence upon stores feels like a much bigger hindrance than it is a benefit. If the only thing getting in the way of massive, exclusive digital-only revenue is that you're relying on GameStop to sell your consoles, then the console itself starts looking like part of the problem.
ATTENTION - Unless otherwise specified, all opinions stated in the above post should be interpreted as the personal opinions of The Benny (Macho) and not objective fact, even when said opinions are inarguably superior to all other opinions in the thread.

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#10
Spartan119 Wrote:Moore's Law affects games, too. We're hitting the ceiling, and soon. We already should have hit that ceiling according to Moore's Law, just this year, but we as a society have scrounged a few extra cycles out of it.

Either way, it won't be long until games hit a max ceiling, after which it's not about the hardware, but about the delivery.

I don't believe this. I don't believe we've hit the ceiling when it comes to technical complexity/graphics/mechanics/overall performance. We see a change from the "brute force" cpu/gpu load approach that has been the rule up until now to increased demand on internal ingenious engineering (as discussed in another thread earlier) and elegant solutions to really boost hardware efficiency - solutions that still will require the execution of core parts of the game to be done locally.

Cause what you describe is a world where we could just as well play our games on our wrist watches or any other thin client, where all computing takes place in huge computer centrals.
And, well... I believe that will happen TOO - but it will just be additions, increase the range of gaming arenas and gadgets. Games of today and yesterday can soon be handled in those computer centrals, but the contemporary, "major" games of that time will still require hardware.
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