Right now, with the newest generation of the console wars in place, it's looking like a two-horse race. Sony and Microsoft
are dueling for the hardcore gamer market while Nintendo doesn't seem to be doing much of anything but waiting and apologizing for the wait, with some notable exceptions. However, recent word from Electronic Arts' CEO Andrew Wilson suggests that the field may not be so slim much longer, and some notable names may decide to get in on the action.
Of course, the console market isn't strictly Microsoft and Sony right now. There are dark horse competitors like Ouya, as well as potentially major destabilizing measures like the Steam Machines that are set to emerge fairly soon. But Wilson is projecting some significant gains in the not too distant future, as other firms not currently associated with games—at least, not more than tangentially—may make an appearance of their own. Specifically, Wilson's looking at some reasonable names like Apple
and Google, but also at some more outlandish names, like Comcast
and even Roku.
Of course, seeing Apple and Google get in to the console market isn't out of line. Apple and Google already have a stock of games from the mobile supply in both iOS and Android, and stepping up to larger-scale experiences wouldn't exactly be out of line. Apple and Google both have sufficient ready cash to sell a console at a loss to get players in the market, and likewise have ready cash to get larger-scale games developed to go for the full-on console experience. Indeed, as the stock of iOS and Android games grows, both would have a ready supply of fresh experiences on hand. Roku and Comcast aren't in quite so good a position, but Roku has a sound installation base and Comcast has plenty of ready cash on hand. The two together in concert may well be able to match Apple and Google's initial advantages.
The video game market is a substantial one, so figuring that more players may want to get involved isn't exactly out of line. Putting casual games up on bigger screens isn't out of line, and may well have a market. The living room could be a welcome stop for casual gaming—parties would really get a boost out of a quick game of “Angry Birds” or the like—but it would still take some doing. As Microsoft is finding with the Windows Phone system—and something that Google and Apple might well find out themselves—breaking into an entrenched market without significant competitive advantage that can't be easily duplicated is no small task. It's going to take something pretty impressive to get Apple and Google into the field proper, but Wilson may well have the right of it. This is a big market, and few can ignore a big market that could stand a competitor or two more in it.