The recent announcement of NPD’s game console numbers had me thinking about the industry and what it has become. Each month, we examine those figures to see where the market stands and fans of all three major consoles take up arms to explain why their product is best.
But all of that debate and all of the talk about the success or failure of devices like the Wii U make me question what the future looks like. We’re expected to see more game consoles hit the marketplace in the next year or so, and Steam is also planning to enter the fray. Add that to OUYA and the possibility of Apple gaming, and it becomes clear that the console market will only grow in the coming years.
All of that growth in the number of consoles might sound nice to gamers. But what if I told you that the future – the ideal future – would not rest on more game consoles, but on less?
The way I see it, a single, universal console should dominate the future.
I know I’m not the only person to ask for a universal game console, but I think it’s for the best. In order to get the most out of our gaming experiences, we’re forced to buy several devices costing hundreds of dollars. From there, we need to buy extra controllers and sign up for Web-based services. And that’s all before we even buy different games for the consoles.
In a world I’d like to see, all of that would be stripped away. We’d have just one new console to buy every few years and the top game publishers in the world would deliver titles for that device. We’d only have to buy one set of controllers and sign up for one online-gaming experience.
Industry observers might reason that such a scenario would actually hurt the gaming industry. After all, we’d be spending a lot less cash in that scenario than the current one, they say.
[aquote]Hardware savings would increase spending across the software market[/aquote]
But is that really true? By saving all of the cash on hardware and online services, we might be able to dedicate the same amount of money to the games themselves. All of the savings would increase spending across the software market. The result? The possibility of an even stronger game industry.
Of course, which company would actually deliver the console is up for debate. Some might say that Nintendo is the best option, since it’s been building consoles for years. Others might suspect that Microsoft or Sony could get the job done. Even Apple might be a candidate.
The nice thing about a universal console is that it really doesn’t matter which company builds the hardware. In my dream world, gaming goes back to, well, gaming, and does away with the obsession with hardware.
The game industry needs to change. And it needs to realize that the console wars need to go. If they do, we all win.