Can We Finally Stop Predicting the Death of Game Consoles?

As I've said here before, I'm an avid gamer, and I've owned just about every game console that has hit store shelves. And each device — yes, even the 3DO — I have been impressed and entertained with in one way or another.So, when I hear industry experts or veterans talk about the death of game consoles, I can't help but get a little upset. After all, consoles have been a key part of my life for as long as I can remember.[Image credit: Jeff the Trojan]

But then I think clearly about the arguments being made for the death of game consoles and I just start to laugh. After all, that's all you can do when you hear such nonsense, right?

One of the central arguments for the death of game consoles in the near future is the growth of downloadable content. Supporters of the idea say that as more titles become available to download, the need for physical media will decline, and thus, the need for a device to play that media will be eliminated. In the relatively near future, they say, we'll be able to download games to our televisions and forget about consoles.

Honestly, I think that idea makes some sense. And I would agree that one day, we will be able to download any game we want without needing consoles. But we're not there yet.

As nice as Steam might be, the biggest issue we face in too many countries around the world is slow broadband speeds. And developers that create huge titles, like the upcoming Battlefield 3, need game discs and consoles to get the job done.

[aquote]As game developers have said as of late, the future of game graphics is bright[/aquote]

Realizing that, I just don't see that need for discs and consoles declining anytime soon. For at least the next 10 years, I think we can expect to see game discs on store shelves.

But the argument against new consoles goes beyond just downlodabable content. In fact, there is a growing number of people out there that say we have hit the pinnacle of game design with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and to deliver a new console to gamers that can hardly improve graphics is a mistake.

That argument, however, makes little sense. The fact is, console makers will eventually need to develop new hardware so they can keep that revenue stream coming in. And as game developers have said as of late, most notably Gear of War creator Cliff Bleszinski, the future of game graphics is bright.

In fact, Bleszinski said recently that he looks forward to a day where games feature the same graphical sophistication as James Cameron's "Avatar" film. And like it or not, the only way to deliver that is through game consoles.

So, call me old-fashioned, but I just don't see any reasonable way in which the game industry can turn its back on consoles. Are they perfect? Of course not. Will they eventually be replaced with straight downloads? Probably. But that won't (and shouldn't) happen anytime soon.