OPINION: A new hardware cycle is coming

A number of industry figures have expressed their belief that the games industry will not see another major new generation of consoles.

Their hypothesis is that the future of console hardware lies in steady evolutionary footsteps and increasingly open platforms rather than the large-scale proprietary technological leaps that have periodically punctuated the last 30 years.

They often argue that the investment required by Microsoft and Sony in competing at the cutting edge is simply too onerous and no longer economically viable.

They also often highlight the rapid rise of server-based gaming and its lower client-side hardware requirements.

Should such a change take place, it would have a truly profound impact on the games industry. Developers would be forced to reappraise their approach to content, tools and middleware development. Publishers’ financials – and share prices – would no longer be slaves to cyclicality.

Consumers’ buying patterns would be profoundly altered. Given that console software sales represent over $25 billion per annum, there is much at stake. But how likely is this game-changing prediction to take place?

Clearly, only the console manufacturers and their close industry confidantes know at this stage. However, I believe that we will see a major new generation of hardware launched in the next two-to-four years and that proprietary consoles will still be on sale in ten, even 15 year’s time. Here’s why.

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