Why I’m OK with the Death of Consoles

Nov 4, 2012
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I’ve been a gaming fan my entire life. From the old days of arcades on through to today’s iPhone gaming, I’ve found a way to incorporate video games into my life. Without them, I don’t think I’d feel as entertained as I am right now.

A key component in my video game love over the years has been consoles. From the Nintendo Entertainment System through the Sega Genesis and countless devices that came after, consoles have been the cornerstone of my gaming experience.

[Image credit: jammagames]

For a long time, I believed that consoles were important, necessary elements in gaming. Without them, I reasoned, the gaming business just wouldn’t be the same.

But now I feel differently. Consoles might still be delivering some of the best gaming experiences out there, but I’m just fine with the prospect of them dying off. It’s a grand new world, and I’m not so sure that consoles are as important to capitalizing on that as they were in the past.

I first came to that realization recently, after a report surfaced claiming cable companies are considering launching a digital-delivery video game distribution model that will allow us to play titles without any additional hardware. The controller would either come from the cable companies.

That story made me realize just how unnecessary consoles have become. Sure, they facilitate gaming, but over time, they’re going to become less and less important. After all, with Web speeds increasing and cloud-based delivery gaining a footing, there appears to be a growing chance of consoles losing their importance in the gaming industry.

Of course, we should couch that by saying that the chances of consoles dying anytime soon are slim. For now, we still need hardware to produce outstanding visuals, and with major companies like Microsoft and Sony dominating that space, it seems difficult to fathom the possibility of either company allowing the console market to slip away.

[aquote]The Web is our new platform[/aquote]

However, I do think it’s time we start accepting the reality that eventually, consoles will die. The technology industry is slowly but surely moving towards a model in which we don’t have unnecessary hardware connected to our televisions. The Web is our new platform, and over time, we’ll expect more streaming and cloud-based delivery than we do right now.

Already we’re seeing consumers opt for services that reduce their reliance upon hardware for movies and music. And if history is to be our guide, the video game industry typically follows close behind.

The big question now, though, is when the gaming industry might finally reach a place where consoles are no longer necessary. Current Web speeds are nowhere near where they must be in order to accommodate a Web-only solution. And there is still the issue of storage and the costs associated with that.

But the time is coming. It must. Consoles are great when they launch, but keep us locked in the past after several years. With consoles pushed out of the way, developers won’t be held back by hardware requirements and could enhance the state of gameplay far more rapidly than they are right now.

It might take a decade or more, but I, for one, can’t wait to see consoles go the way of the Dodo.


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