Is this the end of the console as we know it?
The big three: Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony continue to fight for the position of having the number one gaming console. All three have had ‘banner’ quarters in which they’ve emphasized software sale over hardware, highlighting a shift in the relationship between the games themselves and the consoles on which they’re played.
This shift is reflective of a wider conversation taking place in the industry regarding the fate of the console – a move away from an all-powerful box sitting in front of our TV set toward a mobile world where more technologically-advanced games are played on any screen that can access the Internet.
Recent titles like Fortnite prove that consoles aren’t required for fast-paced multiplayer entertainment. This September, Nintendo will be launching its very first subscription-game service. The chief executive of game publishing firm Ubisoft said in an interview that took place earlier this year that the next console generation will be the last, reigniting the conversation with regards to the console’s future.
Gaming revenue increasing
Microsoft recently reported that its gaming revenue reached $10bn for the very first time in the past quarter, buoyed by software and subscription sales. Nintendo reported an increase in sales, as a result of its interest in gaming titles for its Switch console. Console leader Sony reported that its overall $17.9bn revenue was driven by its PlayStation console, and projected that sales from software will help the unit increase 15% in the next quarter.
While revenue is trending high for the big three, the gaming phenomenon has reached far further than consoles of late. In addition to the aforementioned Fortnite, it was just two short years ago that the Pokemon Gocraze was sweeping the nation (along with other parts of the world), proving that gaming and the internet are enjoying a hugely successful relationship. The number of online games is increasing all the time, with gamers right now enjoying such online titles as Maya Ball, Space Ace, and Mega Moolah. The latter is available at comeon! via Casinoshark and comes with 150 free spins and €50. Each of these titles can be played on mobile devices, and, of course, no console is required.
Console hardware is beginning to move towards a more lightweight design. Nintendo’s Switch is evidence that the traditional console doesn’t have to be sitting in the living room. Analysts say that we may see more emphasis on powerful portables. There are rumors of a new MS console that can reside in the living room while providing the same processing power, but without the full limitations of the bulk that come with a box, according to tech site Thurrott.com.
But for the console to be truly considered dead, and for a genuine revolution to have taken place, a number of things have to happen beyond the technology of what’s sat in people’s homes. While there’ve been impressive advancements made with Internet networks, gamers remain limited by the speed of their mobile and wired networks, according to NPD Group analyst Mat Piscatella. While he anticipates that a new generation of consoles to be released in 2020 will place a greater emphasis on streaming, the console isn’t ready to die just yet.