The iPad is the fastest growing games platform, developers EA have suggested, with consoles now accounting for just 40-percent of the games industry. “Consoles used to be 80-percent of the industry as recently as 2000” CEO John Riccitiello told IndustryGamers. “Consoles today are 40% of the game industry, so what do we really have?” He argues that the rise in casual gaming has meant that the cyclical nature of the games industry is less of an issue.
“Every 5 years you’d see a new console or platform from everybody at about the same time with about the same or similar upgrades or services. You’d sort of harvest it and then it’d cycle back. We got used to it. It’s what seemed normal. But it’s not a particularly smart way to run an industry… bulges in technology investment followed by harvest” John Riccitiello, CEO, EA
As well as dramatically decreasing the time between each game release, the shift has placed less emphasis on processing power and more on collaborative gaming. “I would argue that there’s more to be provided in terms of value for the consumer in micro-transactions and social experiences” Riccitiello suggests, “and driving those better in cross-platform gameplay between a console and a PC and a handheld device and a social network than there is supercharging graphics.”
Earlier this month, id Software co-founder John Carmack predicted that mobile gaming would surpass console gaming in terms of power, performance and graphics “within a very short time,” joining the choir of voices suggesting that for the mainstream audience their iPads and iPhones will be “good enough” for all of their gameplay needs.
Still, the gaming giants won’t let consoles go without a fight. Microsoft’s replacement for the Xbox 360 is already gathering leaks, such as around its graphics potency, while Sony’s “PS4” is tipped to go into production later this year for a 2012 release. Meanwhile, Nintendo has already demonstrated its Wii U console, which has an iPad-like tablet controller that can respond to movement like the current-gen Wii, and which will hit the market next year.