OPINION: New format war could tip balance back to traditional gaming

There will be a chunk of readers who think two new consoles at June’s E3 is at best too premature, or, at worst, expensive folly.

Certainly I, like many others, heard a little voice in the back of my mind whispering too soon” when I found out a new Xbox and the next PlayStation are ready for an E3 2012 tease.

This past Christmas has offered real pause for thought when it comes to the evolving nature of interactive content.The best selling handheld device last month was a sub-100 black and white eReader, and on December 25th itself – while the shops were closed – 6.5m Angry Birds games were downloaded to new devices.

Yes, Kindle, iPad and Android suggest that new consoles aren’t going to settle well at all.But that thinking isn’t quite sound.And that whispering voice we can hear is just an echo of something Don Mattrick must’ve said once at an E3 past about ‘lengthening the console cycle’.

Look back through history and you realise that new consoles are actually late to arrive. Over the last decade and a little further, you can trace a line of industry-driven innovation coming to market each year.

PS2 (2000), Xbox and GameCube (2001), Xbox Live (2002), N-Gage, PSP and DS (2003/2004), Xbox 360 (2005), PS3 and Wii (2006)…But the story dries up in 2007, coincidentally the year the first iPhone and Kindle arrived on the market.

Balance Board? Move? Kinect? New DS releases? These were iterations on the same idea. Treading water.

The big story many of us missed was that the traditional games firms stagnated in the innovation stakes, and that’s when the new wave of non-games devices swept in.

The market is now aching for those same companies to inject some long-overdue innovation into it.So the opportunity is there for new consoles to redress the balance.Roll on Los Angeles.

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