Is This the End of the Console Era?

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
| The video game industry has gone from a mole hill to a mountain in no time flat, Chris DiMarco is your Sherpa as you endeavor to scale Mount “Everquest”

Is This the End of the Console Era?

Recent word from no less than Michael Pachter, a familiar name in the video game analysis sector, suggests that maybe the console audience has reached its peak, and this is about the top of the market for the console field as we know it.

This is a strange concept, and all the more puzzling given reports that the PS4 and the Xbox One have both outpaced current predecessors, Pachter, while at DICE Europe, made the unexpected remark that "the console installed base is about as big as it's ever going to get." Pachter then ran down the numbers, noting that the Wii U had catastrophic drops against the Wii, while the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were running about the same, with the PlayStation 4 beating the Xbox One by a comparatively narrow margin. But that's where Pachter thinks things will change. Essentially, Pachter believes that console games don't require a console. Instead, Pachter believes, consoles games will instead move to smartphones and set-top boxes.

It would be safe to call this ludicrous; what smartphone or its equivalent has the kind of power necessary  to run today's modern console games? But then, people in the 1800s would have thought the car was ludicrous too; why would you burn a tank of flammable liquid to go places when there were perfectly good horses on hand? But consider for a moment one point: the PC.

We all know that PCs readily have the power--and then some--to run today's console games. Most consoles are actually somewhat underpowered when compared to gaming PCs. The biggest difference between gaming PCs and consoles is convenience. Remember not so long ago we discussed how the Xbox One was starting to resemble a gaming PC? Now, if that holds true, it's entirely possible that the next generation of Microsoft consoles could simply be gaming PCs cast in a particular way.

However, the problem ultimately remains that it's going to be hard to get the console makers to give up their positions. Why would Sony stop making PlayStations and switch over to gaming PCs instead, no longer gaining the advantage in exclusive titles? That advantage has made consoles a market staple for decades, and just why anyone would give up such edges is quite unclear.

So is Pachter right? Well, maybe. If certain things end up working just the right way, this could end up going just how Pachter lays it out. But there are a lot of factors here, and any of them going awry pretty much puts the kibosh on this projection.

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