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Talking Point: PS4 Proves That Consoles Are Alive and Kicking

Posted by Sammy Barker

On the pulse

We relish bad news like a kitten does catnip. As a species, it’s deep coded into our genetic makeup to pay utmost attention to the darkest parts of life and brush the positives under the carpet. Newspapers lead with murders rather than acts of bravery, television bulletins push cheerful clips to the tail-end of their schedules, and online gaming communities spend more time being downbeat about their preferred pastime than genuinely optimistic. It’s unsurprising, then, that the majority of the media has spent the past ten months writing off the hopes of the home console market – but are platforms such as the PlayStation 4 really a dying breed?

The infectious excitement that’s surrounded the launch of Sony’s next generation system over the past couple of weeks suggests that dedicated gaming devices are anything but on the way out. An elated platform holder announced earlier in the month that it had sold an unprecedented one million PS4 systems in North America alone, a figure that was toppled by Microsoft just seven days later with the Xbox One. Video clips seeping out of Europe over the past 48 hours or so indicate that we’re likely to see more record-breaking success stories soon – after all, these outstanding scenes in Germany don’t lie.

The argument that consoles are fading revolves around the idea that smartphones, social networks, and tablets are filling their space – but we’re not convinced that that discussion necessarily holds weight. There’s absolutely no doubt that the relatively new pieces of must-own hardware have changed the way that we interact with technology on a day-to-day basis, but have they also radically overhauled the way that we play? While there’s great content to be found on the iOS and Android app stores, we’re not convinced that the market as a whole is gravitating towards Angry Birds and Cut the Rope.

In some scenarios, the sceptics may feel like they have a case. The outrageous success of the Nintendo Wii was built upon the appeal of its casual software, and it’s certainly possible that those consumers may have scattered to the world that’s being forged out of microtransactions in social network smashes such as Candy Crush Saga. But the success of the Japanese company’s motion controlled console was always an anomaly, so why are we treating the abandonment of the mainstream market as supporting evidence for an otherwise imaginary trend? It strikes us that the addition of online distribution platforms and new revenue streams has allowed the industry to inflate, rather than collapse in on itself.

And that growth expands to the console market too, regardless of what the cynics may lead you to believe. In a year in which new consoles are breaking launch sales records, Grand Theft Auto V also flashed a middle finger at any suggestions of an oncoming malaise. The open world opus managed to accrue $800 million within 24 hours, smashing Call of Duty: Black Ops II’s previous record by some margin. The console title went on to accumulate $1 billion within three days of its release, making it the fastest selling entertainment product ever made. Not bad for a title that subscribes to an archaic model that’s purportedly on the cusp of being wiped out.

A critic may argue that the latest instalments in blockbuster brands such as Assassin’s Creed and Battlefield are trending down, but this data alone doesn’t necessarily paint a macabre picture for the future of console games as a whole. There are dozens of reasons why Ubisoft and EA’s newest hits may be struggling to match the performance of their predecessors, and it probably has more to do with Rockstar Games' abovementioned epic than the fact that the market is dying out.

Granted, it’s far too early to discuss of the success of Sony and Microsoft's machines when we’re only several days removed from their release, but unless the stream of high-quality software starts to slow, we can’t see the industry’s success suddenly coming to an end. Cynics may argue that the strong launch sales will slip once the early adopters are on board, but while a lull in the first half of next year is all but inevitable, there's no evidence to suggest that the sales will not pickup again. In fact, the feverish demand for next generation hardware indicates otherwise.

That's not to say that the console market as we know it will never change – but this is more likely to be a result of technological progress rather than a decline in interest in dedicated gaming machines. Sony’s high-profile acquisition of Gaikai was not an extortionate solution to the PS4’s backward compatibility conundrums, but more a long-term look towards a future where PlayStation lives in the cloud. However, we won’t reach that point until broadband speeds improve and bandwidth caps are eased – a progression that has crawled to a halt swifter than any system's sales. Until that day, we recommend waiting for the sector to cease smashing sales records on a regular basis before declaring it dead. Either that, or continue to bury your head in the sand.


Do you think that console gaming is dying out, or do you agree that the PS4’s early success has put paid to that presumptuous speculation? Are you concerned that this may be the last generation of traditional hardware, or are you excited about what the future may bring? Stave off extinction in the comments section below.

Do you think that dedicated gaming devices are dying out? (70 votes)

Yes, I think the PS4 is going to struggle once early adopters obtain the device

  1%

I’m honestly not sure what I think at the moment

6%

No, I think the PS4’s early success shows the console market is alive and well

93%

Please login to vote in this poll.

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User Comments (34)

Grockumus

#1

Grockumus said:

To this day, I have never bought a smartphone. I honesty can't stand those things, especially when I'm talking to someone and they just completely ignore me, whip them out, and start texting someone. It always made me sad when the mainstream media kept saying those damn things would replace consoles and all that. I'm just glad console sales have gone well so far. I'd hate to live in a world where all game companies just give up and start making smartphone/social network games with dreaded micro transactions to avoid falling into a financial hole.

Splat

#2

Splat said:

As long as they are around consoles will always be my favorite way to game.

I have never been much of a PC gamer and never cared much for handheld gamer either, be it 3DS,Vita,Smartphones or anything that came before them.

There is just something about sitting in-front of TV with controller in hand that just can't be topped for me.

Splat

#3

Splat said:

I just got sent a message on PS3 from someone (who's PSN name I won't mention) for my awful taste in gaming for not liking handhelds. :)

I was in no way trying to say Handheld gaming sucks just that it isn't for me. I didn't read the full rant but made me laugh.

Paranoimia

#4

Paranoimia said:

Not interested in phone/tablet gaming at all.

I have a smartphone and a Nexus 7, and I have had games on them, but I still play on consoles and (to a much lesser extent) PC. Currently the only "game" on either of my devices is Rockstar's iFruit, the companion app for GTA V.

Phone and tablet gaming just isn't a patch on a proper console experience. The games are prettiest than they were a short time ago, but they remain ultimately limited and shadow experiences, and having nothing more than a touch screen for input is very restrictive. Okay, with the latest phones you can use a controller or view it on a big screen, but that doesn't make the games any more interesting.

Jaz007

#5

Jaz007 said:

I think the waining sales of AC might have more to do with releasing yearly than consoles as a whole. I think we are looking at a very successful run for Sony.

odd69

#6

odd69 said:

Consoles have been in my life since always, glad they are catching on

Splat

#8

Splat said:

@get2sammyb - You made a second account and sent me a rant message just admit it. :)

I'm probably not your first victim either...

iSolipsistJudas

#10

iSolipsistJudas said:

I've had an iPhone every 2 generations it's came out & I will never fully coot to games on smartphones or tablets. Honestly to me it doesn't seem natural to use smartphones & tablets for video games. To past time sure, but otherwise no.

iSolipsistJudas

#11

iSolipsistJudas said:

I am glad the game industry is beginning to pick up on this honestly. I am fed up with articles being pessimistic about the video game industry when it's growing more financially & increasing in it's target audience every year.

Tasuki

#12

Tasuki said:

I honestly dont think that console gaming wont go away just like PC gaming wont go away, neither will handheld and neither will tablet/smartphone. They all have support from people that make up the communities that will keep them around for years.

Visiblemode

#14

Visiblemode said:

This BS about consoles not being relevant anymore is absurd. Generation over generation console growth is solid. The mobile bubble is bursting. There are great mobile games, but the platform is nothing compared to true handheld consoles, much less a ps3 or, worse, a PS4.

If anything, rabid adoption of mobile shows a growing taste for electronics spending.

Zombie_Barioth

#15

Zombie_Barioth said:

I don't see dedicated gaming devices disappearing, not for a long, long time anyway. I think there might be a much broader market with console quality experiences on mobile platforms (not necessarily 'next-gen' quality though), something we're already seeing, but for dedicated devices to disappear you'd have to convince consumers they're not up to snuff anymore. Consoles are also becoming less dedicated so thats something to consider as well

Gemuarto

#16

Gemuarto said:

Meh, can't buy this piece of crap in any store nearby. So, I decided to stop playing consoles. Tired of all this BS. Sony dissapoints me all the time.

Itachi

#17

Itachi said:

I don't think consoles are going anywhere. They just have to stick to the formula of being a games console which is their purpose anyway. I'll admit i do game a lot on mobile but it is a different kind of gaming experience. Mobile gaming is more of a convenient quick fix than anything and some of those games are pretty addictive such as Kingdom Rush and Subway Surfers. But when it all boils down to it there's nothing like looking at your console hooked up to the TV with a controller in your hands sitting comfortably on the couch, on the bed, or even the floor, and playing some hardcore video games. PC comes close but it's just not ideal.

Farmboy74

#18

Farmboy74 said:

There is a market for both dedicated consoles and smartphone games I think. The problem I have with smartphone games is a lot of them nowadays are freemium and constantly trying to get you to part with your cash. Then there is the controls issues with just an touch screen interface, don't get me wrong when they done right there're good. Galaxy on Fire 2 and Sid Maiers Ace Patrol are good examples.
With a console you got a controller and you pay for the game right out the box (apart from DLC) but that's if you want it. Also the games you get on a dedicated games machine tend to be of a better quality to what you get on the app stores.

Sanquine

#19

Sanquine said:

@Gemuarto Well bye then. Don't be that guy who always has something to say. Because you can't play a console in any store nearby you decided to quit playing consoles. Why are you on this site?

Sanquine

#21

Sanquine said:

@Gemuarto Instead of making fun with memes. Give a fun reaction:D Being negative everywhere doensn't help you anywhere. Why are you dissapointed by SONY? Reverse the facepalm btw.

Ginkgo

#22

Ginkgo said:

Personally I think many "analysts" who have cried the end of the console market have in fact simply discovered the natural downward curve at end of a product's life cycle. They have misread the data completely.

The Wii U's lackluster sales made this mistake worse because they failed to understand how the Wii in comparison was a different beast and captured the general public's imagination with motion controls. Every man and his dog bought a Wii. Kinect is now the best motion control interface, and Wii U sales have reduced back to Nintendo's core gaming fan base.

I do think that developers are under some pressure, and price is a factor, but not consoles themselves.

The game is constantly changing, and who knows what's coming in 5 years, but for the near future at least, consoles are alive and well.

Pink_Floyd

#23

Pink_Floyd said:

Dedicated gaming devices are not going anywhere this generation (PS4) but I do think next generation will decide. I look back at what the 1st tablets could do then and now and Ive seen a big jump. for example the first iPad was released in 2010 and the only games where time killers, now you have games like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas coming to tablets. That said, I think in about 6 or so years from now what will the capabilities of tablets and smartphones will be. I for one will always have a console.

Slapshot

#24

Slapshot said:

Hate to say it Sammy, but this piece is a bit short-sighted in my honest opinion. First, neither the PS4 or the Xbox One have shown that they can perform their cloud-based features that they've sold upon us yet and both consoles have yet to prove themselves to be anything more than high res versions of the consoles that we already have/had.

The way that mobile gaming has the potential to overtake the the console sector is by the very same thing that these new consoles have yet to produce: cloud-based gaming. If mobile hardware continues to evolve at the extreme speed that it has, within the next 5-10 years, it's highly likely that we could be playing the very same games through a mobile device via the cloud - with a controller in hand - just as you would with a dedicated console. The mobile device would be cradled into a storage box with an HDMI out port, it would only need to stream the next generation games from the cloud to your television.

If the cloud can prove to be a success for the dedicated home consoles, it very well can do the exact same thing for the mobile devices. If people can play each year's Madden, FIFA, Call of Duty, etc. just like they can on an expensive peice of gaming hardware, the dedicated gaming consoles will face a real stuggle to stay relevant in the market, as third parties will gain a massive opportunity to overtake the two market leaders.

Looking at the mobile market as just Cut the Rope and Angy Birds - you should look a bit further than that mate.

Farmboy74

#26

Farmboy74 said:

@Charlesnarles, I have KotOR on my iPad, personally I didn't find the game that enjoyable. I can see where the idea for Mass Effect came from this game though.

Sanquine

#27

Sanquine said:

@Slapshot Well good luck with data costs. Here in the Netherlands you have to pay a lot of money for internet on mobile phone. Paying 55 euro a month. That is 2 gb. I think unlimited is another 20 euro

Paranoimia

#29

Paranoimia said:

@Slapshot "If mobile hardware continues to evolve at the extreme speed that it has, within the next 5-10 years, it's highly likely that we could be playing the very same games through a mobile device via the cloud - with a controller in hand - just as you would with a dedicated console. The mobile device would be cradled into a storage box with an HDMI out port, it would only need to stream the next generation games from the cloud to your television."

You do realise the irony of what you've just said, I hope.

If you sit your mobile device in a cradle, connected to a TV and a controller, your mobile device has essentially become a console, thus negating the whole argument that there is no market for consoles.

Slapshot

#30

Slapshot said:

@Sanquine And you missed the point of what I wrote - you would absolutley not be running these games on any mobile network. Your mobile device would (most likely) be cradled into a docking station/HD to stream these games from the cloud through your device and to your TV, on your home WiFi signal.

Slapshot

#31

Slapshot said:

@Paranoimia And the real irony mate is that is exactly the point, with a major fundamental difference. If mobile devices can become home consoles via the cloud, the install base for these devices is already into the hundreds of millions and the need for people to pay $400+ for dedicated home consoles goes away near instantly.

Let me explain this a bit further. Third parties have always needed the first party's platforms to develop its games on, while the platform holder's first party games are typically the titles that offer consumers the unique choices to set its platforms apart from the other. Let's say that both the Xbox One and PS4 shift 35 million units in the next five years - if this type of cloub-based service was to go online in five years, the projected path of worldwide mobile sales for 2013 is 2.4 billion. Sony and Microsoft's target audience will be 70 million, while the third party titles will be available to billions of consumers.

Looking at the mobile markets as just "app" video games is completely missing what the real underlying excitement is all about with mobile gaming's future - this is why Apple's controller support reveal was such a very big deal. If this type of gaming environment was to come to fruition, the gaming industry could see an influx of revenue that could propel it to new highs, instead of this yearly downward decrease that's been going on for a bit too long now - the cost to develop is already too high and these next gen cosoles only make matters worse; too much risk financially to a publisher means limited risk in its games - we're in for a lot more of the same with these new consoles.

Here's another bit of food for thoguht: if all the gamers that are spending $400 for the PS4 and Xbox One could instead spend that $400 on the very same video games via a cloud-based service on their mobile devices (that they already own) - imagine what that influx of revenue would inspire game developers to do thereafter.

Paranoimia

#32

Paranoimia said:

@Slapshot But mobile devices aren't that cheap either. Many of them cost more than the consoles - currently £709 for a 64GB iPhone 5S in the UK, more than twice the cost of a PS4. And they get updated every year, as opposed to every 5-7 years. Not as cheap when you look at it that way. Even if you get a phone cheaper with a contract, an average £30/month 12-month contract alone works out more than the cost of a PS4 for just one year.

You can say "but they already own their mobile device, so it's not an extra cost" - but it is. Neither a smartphone or a tablet are necessary items. People have bought them because they want them, just as we gamers buy our consoles because we want them. They can all be viewed as totally unnecessary expensive devices, depending on who you talk to.

Apple's controller support makes little difference. Big news for Apple users, perhaps, but nothing new for anyone else. I can already use my DualShock 3 with my Nexus 7; if I had a Nexus 10 I could even output the game to the TV. Sure, it makes the games easier to control, but it doesn't make them any better. They're still not a patch on console/PC games. For a few years, people have been saying mobile games were going to catch up with PS3/360 games, but it hasn't happened - and now the PS4 and Xbox One have pushed further ahead.

Games via the cloud is something that isn't going to work well enough for quite some time. For a start, playing games via the cloud requires video compression, so the visuals are never going to match a local copy of the game. At a time when people are flipping out over certain games not being 1080p on the new consoles, and there's talk of 4K gaming on the horizon, do you really think people are going to be happy playing games with a 'standard' of heavily compressed video via the cloud? Not only will that video be compressed initially, but it will also get worse if there are any bottlenecks, just as can happen when streaming movies. Then there's input lag on the controls, not to mention poor internet speeds in many areas, along with ISP-imposed throttling and data caps, all of which make the very idea of streaming games a complete non-starter for a lot of people - as OnLive has pretty much proven already.

People might accept cloud gaming for some brief "retro" PS3 gaming on PS4 via Gaikai, but they're not going to accept it as their standard method of playing the latest games. Bear in mind Sony are already holding back Gaikai in the UK and Europe because they don't think the internet speeds are good enough:

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-09-03-whats-going-on-with-gaikai-on-playstation-4-in-europe

So what hope for any other streaming service? Perhaps when everyone can get a minimum 100MB fibre-to-the-home connection at a reasonable price, and ISPs do away with speed limiting and data caps, it might be viable. Until then, even on a comparatively limited mobile device, cloud gaming is never going to compete with playing a local copy for anyone but the most casual gamer.

And then of course, there's battery life. Ordinarily, my Nexus 7 will last around 8-10 hours, but hammer the wi-fi for streaming something like Netflix and it will drop significantly. What use is your multi-purpose portable device with a dead battery once you've finished gaming? So perhaps you don't game while you're out and about, and save it for when you can run it from the mains... but then it essentially becomes a non-portable gaming device.

I'm also unconvinced that there should really be any significant increase in costs for games this console generation, regardless of what developers may claim. We heard from Cerny about how they've got typical PS4 development times back down to PS1 levels:

http://www.joystiq.com/2013/06/28/cerny-ps4s-time-to-triangle-to-rival-ps1/

...and both new systems are basically PCs, which should mean that PC assets can be used with minimum time spent on adapting them. Given such dramatic cuts in development time, I would expect costs to drop accordingly, or at the very least not increase.

Now, with all of that being said, I'd look at your 'food for thought' from the other side. I have a smartphone from 2011, and a 2012 Nexus 7. They both suit me fine for calls/texts/Twitter/G+ etc., but would no doubt not work with any 'base station' or dock released for such a streaming service, and neither have TV output; I would most likely have to buy a new device. Why would I spend potentially more £ on a new phone or tablet, when I can spend £350 on a PS4 and play better games in better quality, and all without requiring a fast and stable internet connection to play them?

Slapshot

#33

Slapshot said:

"You can say "but they already own their mobile device, so it's not an extra cost" - but it is. Neither a smartphone or a tablet are necessary items."

Mobile devices are mainstream devices that have become a staple part of most people's daily lives. There is no disputing this, the sales data doesn't lie mate.

Apple's controller support does make a difference, because it's native, unlike you using your other controllers with an Android tablet. Apple's marketplaces are where mobile developers make money, so having developers start developing on the largest mobile marketplace with native controller support is a big deal for the gaming industry. This might not suite your preferences, but for the industry as a whole, it matters.

Every bit of the negativity that you're reflecting on the mobile markets about cloud gaming - compression, controller lag, etc. - all pertains to the dedicated gaming consoles in the exact same way, as both of the new consoles "big trick" is cloud-based gaming support, which we've yet to see in action, of course.

"Sure, it makes the games easier to control, but it doesn't make them any better."

I tried to make it clear that I was not speaking to games that are being played off of the mobile device's hardware, so I'm not sure what you're getting at with this bit. Sorry.

Battery life isn't an issue, as I already stated that bit about docking your device into a station and what I'm speaking to is absolutley not going to be able to be used outside of a WiFi network.

"Why would I spend potentially more £ on a new phone or tablet, when I can spend £350 on a PS4 and play better games in better quality, and all without requiring a fast and stable internet connection to play them?"

Again, you keep going back to the mobile games bit. A docking station would likely cost less that $99 USD, which is much cheaper than a dedicated gaming machine, especially if it plays the exact same games.

Lastly, I think what you're missing is that what I'm talking about is probably 10-15 years down the road mate. I think your thinking that I'm speaking to the next five years of this being mainstream - that will absolutely not happen. Will will likely see the beginings of these services creeping up within this short timeframe, but it's just as you stated, once the worldwide Internet beomes ever stronger - think of how fast it has strenghtned over the past decade! - this type of service becomes ever more of a reality. There are some in the industry that fully believe that this is the future of the gaming industry, yet only time will tell.

smith2014

#34

smith2014 said:

Console gaming is long from dead I have been playing video game consoles since I could reamber and so has many many other peaple that have grown up playing video games these are true gamers and I'm positive that I will never play games on a phone or tablet for all my gaiming ever I have been playing video games since I was 4 and I'm 29 now and I could careless for phone and tablet gaming gameing consoles are needed for gaming withou them gaiming could not evolve graphically or eles wise the game devoplers understand that thy need more powerfull hardware for new and exciting games without gaming console peaple would grow tired of gaming beacuse you only do so much with a platform aka phones and tablets the rise of phones and tablets have only risen in the last couple of years alout of peaple playing on them are kids and moms because they can play candy crush saga or something like that gaming consoles have been around for a long time and even way back when peaple have been saying oh consoles are dying and pc will be the main gaiming platform and it hasn't happen and never will and since I could reamber stop me if I'm wrong there has always been handheld gaming market and that's all phones and tablets are handheld gaiming there has always been a handheld gaiming market nothing changed about that the only diffrence is its more used and convent these days because everyones getting in on gaming now and this is a awesome thing more peaple are finding gaming fun that's the reason for the huge sales in the phone and tablets but that brings me back to the point and that is that hardcore gamers the peaple I grew up with playing video games with will never change what they want to game on I for one love optical disks I want to own my media because I feel like I own it and there are alout of peaple that feel the same as where one day digtal media may be more excaple for genarl peaple I dout I will ever want to go completely to that and let's talk about the fact that ps3 and xbox 360 have not been selling its because of that genaration lasted longer then any other consoles in history 7 and 8 years that a decade with the same hardware peaple where starving for new consoles and the sales prove that 2 million already for each console that's crazy that double what last gen did within the same time frame I could amagine that if there where no gaming consoles and all there where was phones and tablets how tired peaple would get with the same device year after year gaming would die devoplers would lose money because there be no exitment for games on the same device over and over again Im usealy right about this kinda if thing numbers don't lie and from what I'm seing the future looks better then ever for gaming greatness awaits.

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