Speculation lately about the decline and ultimate death of the games console is rife these days.
Sliding sales of boxed games and a severely depressed hardware market certainly aren’t dispelling that notion.
And more and more the people that were once on the fringes of the trade – mobile developers, indie devs, digital distribution outfits – are grabbing all the attention.
But consider the broad meaning of what a ‘games machine’ is and you can see that the new concepts from Nvidia and Steam prove that the basic principle of a device that puts games first is still sound.Certainly sound enough for publishers and retailers to say they’d sell them or makes games for themstraight off the bat.
The world’s largest digital retailer singling out an opportunity for a console speaks of market health, not death.So the basic idea that brought Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony to power is valid.
But the languorous pace of those three – the companies that built the console business – has started to become embarrassing.
Xbox’s once-a-year timetable for its dashboard and digital store – which also seems to add obstinance with every step – seems quaint when Valve can just, seemingly overnight, invest in a PC manufacturer to have its own hardware on the market in months.
I adore all my current-gen consoles. But those devices were outclassed by phones and PCs a while ago, and I’m often left wondering: have the hardware experts at Redmond, Tokyo and Kyoto spent the last four years sitting on their hands?
They haven’t of course, but whoever gave them permission to take their time for the next time round clearly made a mistake.
The fear of calling time on this generation, and the claim that we’re in for ‘the longest generation yet’ has actually hurt the next one.
And I don’t just mean hardware generations.A whole era of consumers are growing up to understand tablet interfaces, and they are matched by a generation of developers increasingly uninterested in what Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony can play host to.
And that ‘valid’ console model is only sustainable if there are games to sell for them.