Recently, Nvidia's senior VP of content and technology, Tony Tamasi, had a few choice words about the state of the mobile chip market. On one hand, there's certainly a promising future in store for such chips, but on the other, this gain in power may not be as surprising as some would think, especially on the surface.
Tamasi's remarks, delivered to Bit-tech, described a future in which the next generation of Nvidia mobile chips would be on par with--indeed, at least somewhat better than--the current lineup of console game systems. Yes, the next generation of mobile chips will be on par with the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3, and that's certainly not bad news, especially for mobile gamers.
Console gamers, meanwhile, are likely having a brief worm of doubt emerge in the back of their collective unconscious that grins evilly and says "Yeah, that's great and all, but the PS4 will probably be on shelves by Christmas
." That worm's got a point, folks, and what it didn't mention is that the new Xbox is at least reasonably likely to follow suit, which we'll likely spot when E3 comes around in a couple months.
Additionally, that worm of doubt didn't specifically say--though it sure did imply--that the issue here wasn't so much that mobile chips are really gaining in terms of power, so much as it was that the current generation of gaming consoles is really rather old. Most of what's out on the shelves right now is closing in on eight years old, specifically, so for the next generation of mobile chips to be as powerful as what will likely be, by then, nine or ten year old chips isn't really out of line, nor is it saying much.
Still, objectively, it's something to consider. Think of some of the newcomers to the console gaming market, like the Ouya, the Steam Box, or Project Shield
from Nvidia, and think about what they might offer with power equivalent to a "Gears of War" or "Uncharted". Consider further how the recently revealed idea that Unreal Engine 4 will support HTML5, and how a current top-rated game could be run from a Web browser.
It's adding up to look like future mobile devices may well be full gaming systems in their own right. Naturally, there will be another generation or two of console games in there, but it might just be that, in 10 or 20 years or so, console gaming will have gone the way of the dodo, beset by PCs on one side and by mobile devices on the other. The core gamer will have the PC, which has been improving over the years as a gaming venue, and the casual gamer
will have pretty much what the casual gamer has had all along, mobile devices.
Of course, this may not happen. We may well see a PlayStation 6 or beyond by the time it's all said and done. But the idea of mobile devices powerful enough to take over for consoles isn't one to easily dismiss, nor is it one that will have little impact on the larger gaming market.