back to article Exec sounds death knell for games consoles

A former Xbox executive has boldly declared that dedicated games consoles, such as the Wii, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, will become technological relics within 10 years. Sandy Duncan, who worked in Microsoft’s European Xbox division before leaving to co-found an online gaming business, recently said that “dedicated games …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Microsoft... that's rich

    coming from the company that thought the internet was a fad.

    You'll see convergence, a PS4 will rule the living room working with 24Mbit/s Broadband and a 100TB NAS in the home...

  2. Iain

    Funny definition of "dead", then

    So there won't be such a thing as a games console because we'll all be using online-enabled set-top boxes to play HD games with fancy graphics.

    That'll be "games consoles", then. We might be getting all our games over the net via an equivalent of the Virtual Console, Live Arcade or the PSN, but if it is a machine that plays games on a telly, then it's a console. The 360 already lets you download movies to watch, and there's a Freeview PVR adaptor on the way for the PS3, Both those formats can (well, could given there aren't many HD-DVDs left) play disc-based HD films. So the convergence is there already.

    Whether you call it an STB that can play games, or a console that can play TV is a marketing issue, not a technical one.

  3. AliBaBa
    Coat

    pish

    Yes, and the internet will never take off, pc's will die{out} by 2005, everyone will have their own jetpack by the 21st century etc etc etc.

    When will these technological nostradamuses learn to keep their big gob's shut? why try and predict the future when the only thing that can happen is that you end up looking like an arse?

    What I think is most likely to happen in the future is that console releases will get further apart, or that the console manufacturers will morph their consoles into other things (like set top boxes). OMG - i'm doing it now!

    mines the one with the arms tied together at the back...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Revelation

    Now who would have thought that someone who would benefit enormously from the disappearance of the console would be predicting its demise. I'm sure that is an impartial observation </Sarcasm>

  5. Bruce Leyden

    Not what I've read elsewhere

    This contrasts with articles I've read recently which state that the "static" hardware platform provided by consoles (as opposed to the ever-changing capabilities and ever-increasing complexity of the PC platform) along with several other factors like consolidation of the games industry, "cloud computing" and games as a service would cause developers to focus more on consoles, to the detriment of PC's.

  6. Chris

    Laaaaaaag

    Blimey - people complain about input lag to monitors sitting on their desktop. Now he thinks that people will be happy to send mouse/keyboard/wavey stick thing controls across teh intarweb, wait for everything to be processed in the "Cloud" and sent back to their screens?

    Not for a lot longer than 5-10 years, methinks

  7. Edward Noad

    Gaming is officially over

    I seem to recall someone mentioned all the talk about PC gaming being dead too. So, if PC gaming is dead and consoles will be out in a decade, do we have to hand in all our hardware to be recycled into PDA's or what?

  8. Robert Grant Silver badge

    Does James Sherwood know what a web service is?

    Just curious :)

    On another topic, I think a possibly viable future (at least for MMOs) could be a TV channel dedicated to a game, and you have a box which wirelessly connects to your controller(s), and that uploads your control input to a server, which then renders the game world accordingly, and transmits it back to you via your TV. Of course, it's much more likely that that won't happen, because it probably never needs to.

  9. Neil

    Before there was home computing - there was GRANDSTAND

    Well I remember my Grandstand gaming console back in 1978 I loved it. That was 4 years before I got my first computer. So I say poppycock. Consoles have been around for much longer that home computers. So why is that going to change now? Are MS scared of loosing a market and so will close it down before its taken away.

  10. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    Typical Microsoft response.

    We buggered up this generation again, the best we can do now, is try and convince everyone that gaming consoles will disappear anyway, and it was part of out plan all along..

    Paris, because you would have to be as stupid as her to not see through this BS.

  11. peter
    Boffin

    The Future

    So it's a games console in 2010 but without Blu-Ray, liek the Xbox.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah right..

    He is just having a cry because Blu-Ray killed MS's HD-DVD, and MS's new backup agenda is online downloads, and because he knows the PS3 will eclipse the XBox360 too.

  13. alistair millington
    Thumb Up

    technically he is right,

    Then again none of the current machines are stand alone games machines anymore. ps3 is a blu ray player, all of them have internet functionality and xbox does media sharing and the online commuity which the wii has.

    So even now the games systems aren't just games systems.

    All we will see if the convergence between all the different things.

    Pc's will become home media centre's and play games, game systems the same with attached storage devices (hd dvd for example or the clip on HDD) NAS boxes performing the library of your chosen game, film or music and running windows media centre or similar.

    We won't need stand alone DVD players or set top boxes as they will either be in the pc or the TV as you can get free view in TV's now.

    both have a niche and the merging will just open up choice for the end user and how they want the end product to look.

    That shuttle PC with the blue flashing light and the sleek looking black box or the sleek black number PS3 / xbox with the erm... blue flashing light....

    And how they will work, a pc with media centre where you can type and work on like a pc or a games console where you can erm... type and work like a ... erm... pc.

    ahhh...

  14. Iain
    Pirate

    They won't die out...

    ...until all PCs (and similar) can give as good quality graphics and game-play for the same price to the average consumer (not Joe Geek who I'm sure can get all sorts of fancy wizard graphics stuff and power from a PC for £200)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    10 years?

    Pretty much everybody I know who bought a 360 had it die after 9 months...

    Mines the one with the RROD

  16. Richie M
    Gates Halo

    Microsoft Trolls

    Will the Trolls (Mark & 1st AC) please read the article before before posting!

    The guy does not work for Microsoft! Typical Troll posting.

    As has already been pointed out; what a surprise, a guy sets up a business that would benefit greatly from console's demise, is prophesying the demise of consoles - why are these people given news space?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Why bang Microsoft?

    A former employee who left and makes a comment about games consoles dying and everyone bashes Microsoft.

    He doesn't work there. Read the article.

    Sounds like the death bell for Game, HMV and other Games retailers to me. Been coming for a while. As one of your commentators quite rightly put it. Playing via a games machine that plays TV or a TV STB that plays games is purely marketing semantics.

    Games developers will start producing games that they can upsell online and cut out the retailers.

    COD 8

    Download basic game for free.

    Basic gun £5

    Basic explosives £5

    Basic Camo £5

    Wider play area £5

    Online play £5

    Advanced Guns £5

    Advanced explosives £5

    Game hosting £5

    Other specials £5

    Anyway you get the picture. No distribution costs other than an online portal, no retailers taking 40% margin and no returns.

    EA profits up, Game Group profits gone.

    All in my opinion anyway.

  18. Trent Hawkins

    the fools!

    Don't they know that in a mere 7 billion years the sun will engulf the earth, and none of these consoles will matter?

  19. Hans Mustermann

    follow the money

    Actually, way I see it. He _was_ at MS's console division, left it, formed his online gaming company. And what does he say? Consoles are dead, online gaming is TEH FUTURE!

    Is anyone really that suprised there?

    I mean, seriously, if I were to leave the X business and make a Y company instead, that's probably what I'd try to tell the investors too: well, see, X is as good as dead, any day now, Y is TEH FUTURE! Gimme some venture capital already.

    For him, X is consoles and Y is online gaming. It could be anything else. Apples and oranges, gizmos and doohickeys, whatever.

    Now maybe he actually believes that, or maybe he's just trying to get a chunk of money and then get bought by MS or Sony for an even bigger chunk. It doesn't matter. It's nevertheless what I'd _expect_ him to say. "This new thing I'm making, it's TEH FUTURE!"

    I'd be more surprised if he _didn't_ make exactly that prophecy.

  20. Michael
    Alert

    So will all this internet accessed content

    be using the same networks that are apparently going to be raped into oblivion by the rise in IPTV?

  21. Nick Clarkson

    It *could* happen...maybe...one day

    [QUOTE]

    Blimey - people complain about input lag to monitors sitting on their desktop. Now he thinks that people will be happy to send mouse/keyboard/wavey stick thing controls across teh intarweb, wait for everything to be processed in the "Cloud" and sent back to their screens?

    Not for a lot longer than 5-10 years, methinks[/QUOTE]

    So that'd be Citrix then? Citrix does exactly that - bar the wavey thing :) over internet/intranet. OK, so it's a stretch to think it'll be applied to games, and I think this is a biased opinion, but it's not inconceivable with all the virtualisation of hardware/apps around. Just my 2p.

    Oh, and set-top box or console...same thing if it's playing games isn't it?

  22. pctechxp

    games without disks

    This sounds very much like Valve Software's Steam platform to me.

    Maybe its a case of this exec thinking he can re-invent the wheel.

  23. Mage
    Flame

    Divergence

    There will be 4.3" 800x 480 portable game consoles with power of PS3 / Xbox360 that can drive ordinary TV or HD 1080 lines.

    There will be Media Boxes that make a MS Media Centre look stupid (It's dead already). Basic Sat / cable boxes won't be game consoles, but things like PS3 with add in Sat or DTT tuners... Oh.. You mean that's already a PS3 accessory?

    Game players is a small percentage of Setbox users. The majority of set boxes will never have more than they do now game wise.

    Given that some games are a box load of DVDs, I'd not see serious game downloads replacing disk/cartridge sales. More as well as.

  24. Mark
    Coat

    Microsoft run out of bullets?

    Seems they are now relying in their FUD gun...

  25. Highlander

    Hmmm...I see.

    So, just who do you suspect might benefit from the migration of games to download friendly set top boxes? Company name begins with M and ends with T, has a couple of Os in there too?

    Come on, Microsoft can do better than this. They've been trying to push things in this direction for years and so far apart from a sadly large number of sheep in the US few people are falling for it.

    The Microsoft model is as follows.

    Commodity hardware running Microsoft software. Microsoft software locks users in to Microsoft online experience. Microsoft online experience funnels all revenue to Microsoft. Games will be broken up into components under the pretext of offering gamers ultimate choice. Now you will be able to buy only those portions of the game you want. So you'll be nickel and dime'd to death. EA has already shown this with their Need for Speed ProStreet game. EA sold you codes for cars that were already in the game, you simply had to purchase a code from them that would unlock that car in the game. That's double dipping in my mind, you already paid for the disc and what's on it, why have to pay a second time for something you already bought?

    But that's the way. Microsoft wants us all to be hooked up to their network so that they can sell us downloads of all kinds.

    Personally I find this kind of pronouncement has about as much going for it as the statements by Nokia that N-Gage is the new wave of mobile gaming. You just have to wonder how they think that they can oevrtake the PSP, nevermind the DS.

  26. Ishkandar
    Gates Horns

    Ex-Microsoft or not...

    ...he has certainly caught the Microsoft disease - making pronouncements like he heard them direct from God !! I think it's called the False Prophet Syndrome and has no known cure !! He is doomed for life !!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    @ Nick Clarkson

    Yes Citrix (and VNC and Microsoft Terminal Services) does allow you to operate a remote session, but the experience isn't suitable for gaming over a WAN. It doesn't matter how much bandwidth you've got, the main problem is latency (lag between pressing a key and seeing its effect on the screen) which can't be cured by current network technology (i.e. available in your home in the next five years); maybe the way games are delivered to people will change in the near future, and most consoles are already equipped for this, but there isn't a technology that will allow HD games to be run on a remote computer (Sony and Nintendo shareholders breathe a sigh of relief).

  28. Neil
    Gates Halo

    Evolution

    So consoles will become devices that perform multiple functions?

    Of course, the Amiga returns!

  29. jai

    citrix

    but, while i'm more than happy using Citrix to admin and fix issues on the servers at work while i'm at home, there's no way i'm going to play GTA IV or UT3 or Killzone over that kinda setup

    he does have a point though - very soon there'll be little need for the physical media - GT5P came out this weekend and I bought and downloaded it on sunday. sure, i'll run out disk space and probably delete it in 6 months, but then after 6 months, i'd be unlikely to put the phsyical disk back in my ps3 either, so no loss.

  30. Steve

    Re: the fools!

    "Don't they know that in a mere 7 billion years the sun will engulf the earth, and none of these consoles will matter?"

    Ah, but the the PS5x10^9 will be made from dolomite, the tough black mineral, that won't cut out when there's heat all about!

  31. Shabble

    Play it again, Sam.

    OK, here's how it works... mum and dad come to Christmas time and look at consoles. They see the new XBox, but spot that it needs a broadband connection to function. Ooops! Granny and grandad never got broadband! And that wee holiday cottage in the Scottish highlands doesn't have broadband either. And the son's best friend's dad doesn't want to share their wireless security settings with you, so the son can't take his new toy over his best pal's house. Oh, and thanks to network congestion the thing won't run at full graphics resolution/speed between 6pm and midnight. Ah well, just get the latest Wii instead - it works out cheaper in the long run anyway.

    On-line virtual gaming consoles are like Vista or the Air - they offer no value-for-money additions for the average consumer that you can't already get whith current systems. Why is someone going to give up being able to play their old games, give up being able to trade games in at Game or borrow their pals' games just because some guy says the future of gaming is on-line?

    At the moment 'on-line' seems to be the future of pretty much everything, but just because you CAN do something entirely on-line doesn't mean that most people will WANT to do it online, or even that it is a good idea to do it on-line from a technical perspective. I mean, VoIP is still a niche market despite the concept going mainstream four years ago with Skype. Having all the graphics processing done on-line just means there is extra stuff to malfunction and stop your gaming.

  32. Shades
    Coat

    @Neil, RE: Evolution

    "wake up Neil, WAKE UP NEIL. Its time for work!"

    Sadly, I've had the same dream too!

    Mines the one with copies of Amiga Format, CU Amiga and AmigaActive still in the pockets!

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Convergence? We don' need no steekin' convergence...

    So if every console has to include set top box/PVR/media centre functionality in case it's the only console, what room will there be for a novel console idea which just does console gaming well (for a given value of "in a popular idiom")? Y'know, like the Wii...

  34. Daniel B.
    Boffin

    Console death? Yeah, sure.

    "A former Xbox executive has declared that dedicated games consoles, such as the PlayStation 3 (PS3) and Xbox 360"

    Dedicated? Most of the anti-PS3 stance is that the thing is "a Blu-Ray player with processing power more suitable for a low-end server that poses as a games console". So I doubt the PS3 would "die".

    As for web services, I'm sure as hell not running games communicating through SOAP. I'd love to see the kind of latency THAT would have!!! I'd bet even Quake 1 back in 1996 performed better on my dialup connection than any SOAP-based "web game" would perform with my 1Mbit ADSL.

  35. Raymondo B
    Stop

    No way, jose!

    We won't be going all download in Britain anytime soon as we simply don't have the infrastructure. The bigger ISPs are already throttling connections like mad and it will only get worse in the future.

  36. Oliver Burkill

    physical media will not die

    Two reasons why I think physical media wont die out soon.

    Emerging markets, We may well have the infrastructure in this country for most games to move online, but their are huge potential markets where that does not exist. India, China and eastern Europe.

    Gifting, A large percentage of game purchases are gifts, many people will be resistant to virtual gifts.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    @Richie M

    I can read, it was the very first sentence "A former Xbox executive..." so it's not like I got bored and my attention lapsed.

    Microsoft hired him, the author thinks his previous role and the company he worked for was relevant and so did I.

    I perhaps should not have attributed the comment to his ex-company, granted. Picture to compensate for that fact...

  38. Eduard Coli
    Gates Horns

    Fantasy

    It is understandable why a games publisher would like this.

    No disc to press and avoid all that shipping.

    Then there is the back end with licensing on replacements when a console goes bad and license expiration.

    The problem is that the public has never been comfortable with virtual ownership as they like to get something physical for their money.

    The only kind of gaming development that is of any interest is happening on consoles as computer gaming has never been more in the pits.

  39. Grim2o0o

    Not gonna happen

    Hmm, sounds like a dead horse already.

    As someone mentioned above, the UK and many other countries ISP's are already starting to throttle connection because they use too much bandwidth. With IPTV and other media based web services the need to download well over 100Gb a month will be required; how will people manage on their lame 5Gb a month package from 'insert lame ISP here'.

    Never gonna happen unless ISP's/Backbone providers update their networks to support an even vaster amount of traffic.

    I can also remember BT saying something along the lines of "people don't need more than 8Mb connections" - and with excuses like that coming from providers you can see that this everything-online-games-movies-tv thing just won't happen anytime soon.

  40. Jach

    Meh

    When all's said and done, I'll retreat back to my SNES for hours of joy.

    I couldn't imagine playing only PC games, especially online! No way am I paying $80 a month for a high speed connection, $1000 for a nice computer, $x a month for whatever online fees there would be, and another $20 for a decent controller so I don't have to use the keyboard and mouse.

    See, I remember hearing this future talk years ago about how in a short time all the consoles would be gone and we'd all play games in virtual realities like the Matrix...

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here I fixed it for you

    "Sandy Duncan, who worked in Microsoft’s European Xbox division before leaving to co-found an online gaming business, recently said that “I hope dedicated games devices…will die [out] in the next 5 to 10 years”.

  42. Joe Cooper

    What short memories

    The network isn't new. Flashback to 1991.

    You have a modem that downloads 1 kilobyte per second. An SNES game would weigh in at 4 megs, as would a three-floppy DOS RPG or two-floppy copy of Doom. That's a 1 hour download. Those are Big Games.

    Back to the present, 2008. How long does a big modern game take on Steam? In a country with good infrastructure, a few hours. In a country like Poland, much much MUCH longer.

    Common. Everyone knows by now that the local processing power and local demands grow much faster than the network does. The network grows slow. The last huge sudden growth in network speeds was back in the late 90s with the introduction of broadband and it has grown incrementally since. In a lot of places like here in Poland the infrastructure is pretty shitty still anyway and it's not reliable.

    When is the next sudden boost? There's some thing called Internet2 that only universities have that we've been hearing about forever. But by the time all the infrastructure is upgraded so we have it in our homes, games will have expanded further.

    Ironically, Microsoft was just pushing the HD Era of video games only a year ago. With HDTVs comes demand for dramatically larger textures, video files and fillrates. Suddenly all those demands go way way up and the magical network we have can't cope anymore and won't cope until it's seriously upgraded.

    By then, computers will be much faster and guess what, people will ~have invented~ something new for home systems to do that just won't fit over the network.

  43. Dave

    Ah yes...

    264K IS ENOUGH FOR ANYONE !!!

  44. Wayland Sothcott

    My Original PlayStation is dead

    It died at about 10 years old so the prediction is correct but hardly surprising. But people will by new hardware.

    I think the concept of the games console is a device that can play games branded for it. There are several brands.

    The PC on the other hand allows programs of all types to play on it. Anyone is allowed to write programs for the PC and the PC runs anyones programs.

    The games console has one excellent advantage in that it is very simple to use. There is no reason why an open 'games console' could not be published. It would be just like any of the others only anyone could make them and anyone could write for them.

    I think the hardware is mature enough that the only inovations required would be in software and peripherals. If hardware never got faster for 10 years we would probably see some real improvements in computing.

  45. calagan

    Desktop PCs will die first

    Nowadays, paying big bucks for a fat box sitting under your desk doesn't make much sense anymore. Before, it was a must if you wanted to play online, but now that the vast majority of console games let you play online, it's not worthwhile to invest in a PC that you will have to upgrade every 6 month to be able to run the latest games. As far as business is concerned, sexy laptops like the MacBook Air will eventually dominate the market.

    I believe that within a couple of years, most people will mostly use online productivity software like the very promising Google Apps instead of Gigabyte-hungry office suites, since this doesn't require much bandwith.

    As far as games are concerned, the Playstations and Wiis are there to last since the games' size grows much quicker than the available bandwith.

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