Dedicated video game consoles have come a long way in a short space of time. So fast that it seems like they are just about to reach their peak, and fade away forever. This is according to Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft. A rather startling thing for the CEO of a video game creator to say, especially since the man makes his living in the industry.
But Yves wasn’t predicting the end of video games. Instead, he was suggesting that the very nature of the industry is on the verge of major change. His prediction is that there will be one more generation of video game consoles, after which the entire industry will switch to streaming. Could this be possible? The chances are; yes.
Streaming has taken over a huge portion of the entertainment industry, with everything from TV and movies watched this way, and the best online casino sites now also offering live dealer games streamed in real time. If you think about it, Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services have all but taken over, and gaming looks set to go the same way…especially when you consider the popularity of something like Fortnite and Twitch.
More than ever, people are starting to view consoles as a hindrance to the video game industry. Each time a new generation of hardware is launched, video game creators are required to work within the limitations of that hardware, until the new generation finally arrives. Were it not for this structure within the industry, chances are video games would be a great deal more advanced. But then, what is the alternative?
GeForce Now, Yves suggested, is the way everyone will be playing video games after the next generation. GeForce Now is an innovative service that allows players to stream games from a server to just about any device. The rendering of the game is done remotely using powerful hardware, with the end result arriving on a smart television, laptop, or even smartphone. The obvious benefit is that the user need not own hardware in order to play games, only a device capable of receiving the stream.
The system isn’t perfect, given that an at least 25mbps Internet connection is required. But the way Internet speeds are going; this probably won’t be a problem for most in a few years.
The Last PlayStation?
The statements from Yves are interesting, but could consoles really become a thing of the past? Sony has already made comments about the fact that the PlayStation 4, released in 2013, is in its final phase of being mainstream. Further hints were dropped about a PlayStation 5 in 2020. Could the PlayStation 5 be the last?
At the moment Sony hold an all-but-suffocating grip on the console market. Microsoft was a competitor for a while with the great Xbox vs. PlayStation debate taking centre stage for a few years, but that debate became null and void when Microsoft sold less than half the number of Xbox Ones as PlayStation 4s.
So, the hard question that has to be asked is; what would Sony do if suddenly consoles became obsolete? It’s not an easy question to answer, but assumptions are that the company would evolve. They’ve done so before, and would do so again as they certainly didn’t make their name in the world of consoles – they had TV, radio and cameras long before consoles, and chances are, the scrapping of a gaming station would leave them wide open to new and exciting projects, especially with VR and AR now in the picture.
In a recent interview Vice President of Gaming at Microsoft, Phil Spencer, seemed to be hinting at a similar evolution for the video game industry. Although not specifically mentioning video game streaming, Spencer stated that Microsoft is looking to evolve beyond generations, into a new era.
He went on to say that Microsoft is looking more into delivering favourite games to as many devices as possible, as opposed to cementing games to specific devices. Ambiguous words, but based on what GeForce now is attempting to do, it could be suggested that Microsoft is perhaps looking into starting a game streaming service of its own. With the somewhat lacklustre reception of their latest console and the immense competition that Sony offers, it’s not hard to see why Microsoft would be keen to explore other avenues.
Only the future will tell where video games go, and if consoles land up as museum pieces, but everything has its time, and it’s a good to remember that we once thought rotary telephones were cutting edge!