Consoles' market impact shrinking, says Will Wright

Will Wright talks about the future of the video game market, and how the increased exposure of social and mobile games will make the dedicated console market less of a driving force in the industry.


Dedicated game consoles aren't dead, but in the future they won't be the market force they have been in the past, according to game designer Will Wright. While Wright acknowledges that consoles will probably never go away completely, he predicts they'll lose their "mainstay" status.

"I don't think [consoles are] doomed," Wright told "I think they're not going to become the mainstay of the market like they had been."

Wright says the trends toward social and mobile gaming are impacting everything, and that makes dedicated hardware less important in the larger gaming market. "I think there'll probably still be dedicated game machines going forwards, sitting on a shelf next to your HDTV," he said. "I think that they're going to be catering to a very specific kind of player, which probably isn't that different from what they were catering to before. It's just that a lot more people are now playing games, and they're not playing it on that device."

The devices that will define the future of our industry, he argues, support an entirely different type of gaming. He says gaming is becoming more "interstitial" than session-based. Rather than playing a core game for an hour, you might play an iPhone game for two minutes while waiting in line at Starbucks. "I can use games to fill the empty slots in my life, a bit more ubiquitously."

In other words, Wright suggests the diminishing importance of consoles is a by-product of the diminishing importance of core games. Since consoles are built for that expressed purpose, they'll be the devices to bear the brunt of the market shift.

It makes sense to have confidence in the mobile market, especially since his ambitious project Hivemind relies on that style of interstitial gaming. No release plans have been detailed.

From The Chatty
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    March 29, 2012 2:30 PM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Consoles' market impact shrinking, says Will Wright.

    Will Wright talks about the future of the video game market, and how the increased exposure of social and mobile games will make the dedicated console market less of a driving force in the industry.

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      March 29, 2012 2:41 PM


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        March 29, 2012 3:13 PM

        I could see:

        - Casual market: heads towards phones and facebook

        - Hardcore market: heads towards the PC.

        Maybe that's wishful thinking but it might be why so many developers are making PC ports and why Gearbox writes a "love letter" to the PC. Long term consoles may be doomed.

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          March 29, 2012 3:15 PM

          i thought we were in a post pc era

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            March 29, 2012 3:36 PM

            pc is dead, consoles are dying, phones are stupid. i think gaming is over, guys; shut it all down.

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              March 29, 2012 4:09 PM

              Why does a previous platform or technology have to "die" to make room for a upstart or mainstream technology. If it can make money and sustain an consumer base who really cares what the other devices are doing.

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          March 29, 2012 6:21 PM

          I think those trends are already in motion. I don't know if they'll go very far but I do think people are starting to wake up and worry that this is now a possible outcome. Too many gamers seem to think that the Xbox720/PS4 are going to be a similar improvement like the 360/PS3 and I keep saying you guys should not count on getting a big boost in performance. It may happen but I really think the console makers are not going to sell hardware at a loss anymore and they're going to target the casual gamer with motion controls like Kinect. So what does this mean? It means that "hard core" AAA console games are no longer their priority because you are not where the volume is. I've seen trends like this in the software and hardware world. Important dynamics like investment funding change DRASTICALLY when you are not the top priority of a market and that affects everything. The Wii showed everyone that casual gamers were under served but of of great importance to the bottom line. However, it will be smartphones and tablets that really hammer the concept home and take market share from console and handhelds. The "hard core" market could very well retreat some into the PC space because, if the 720/PS4 are weak, the PC will be the only platform with modern powerful hardware.

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        March 30, 2012 2:55 AM


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      March 29, 2012 3:35 PM

      Console gaming is dead.

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      March 29, 2012 5:31 PM

      I think gaming will simply shift to handheld devices built of lightweight materials, long battery life, 10+ inch hi-res OLED screens built right in. Kind of like an iPad, but with physical buttons. One of the problems with consoles is that you need a 1080p TV or monitor to play them with - in addition to the hundreds you pay for the system itself and a couple games. All games will be downloaded off the internet once you sign in, kind of like Steam.

      Not only that, but it will come with a good ol' operating system that will provide you with tons of apps, the internet, etc.

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        March 29, 2012 5:54 PM

        So, a laptop?

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          March 30, 2012 3:50 AM

          More like an iPad with the controls of a Vita.

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            March 30, 2012 4:25 AM

            So like a Wii U.

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              March 30, 2012 7:44 AM

              Yeah, like the Wii U touchscreen controller, but probably the same size as an iPad.

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        March 30, 2012 7:49 AM

        To be fair you don't "need" a 1080p TV to play on any of the modern consoles. Sure, it makes them look better but that's like saying you "need" to pay $700 for a video card on your PC to play games.

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        March 30, 2012 8:49 AM

        Your phones will wirelessly transfer (with minimal lag) to the nearest larger screen of your choice and connect to a controller of some sort via bluetooth. I already almost do that with my phone (needs to use HDMI to the TV though).

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      March 29, 2012 5:51 PM

      The irony is that about 5-10 years ago you would just need to replace "console" with "PC" and "mobile" with "console" and this article would more or less be accurate.

      I hope this means PC starts getting renewed attention, as the market starts to shift and the gaming population grows.

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        March 30, 2012 2:38 AM

        I dunno, I see mobile games as being much more of an (apparent) existential threat to consoles than consoles ever were to PC.

        like, not that consoles can't recover from this, too (and quickly, even -- like within the next few years), but, I mean, the future of consoles is only known to industry insiders and people with a horse in that race. However, anyone that just fucking paid attention to PC games could have told you that, or predict that, at some point down the line, some people would eventually be able to build great games in the vacuum publishers left when they evacuated from the platform. It's the nature of the platform to foster that kind of creativity and innovation.

        The fates of the consoles, however, mostly rest with big, established corporations, who are mostly inscrutable, and themselves quite fallible. They can easily fuck up these markets of carefully-controlled monopolies that they've established for themselves.

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      March 30, 2012 1:28 AM

      I agree that console gaming will lose importance once gamers figure out how easy it is to hook a HTPC up to their TV and play games on it. Valve can easily push this forward a lot faster with Steam if they choose as well...

      I disagree that core gaming will lose importance, the markets just growing with people who didn't play games in the first place reducing the % of core gamers as a result.

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        March 30, 2012 6:21 AM

        While I do agree with you, your expectations of the youth of today is a tad misguided. My local city's high school graduations rate is barely over 50%. Kids today are barely smart enough to turn a console on, let alone plug in a HTPC.

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      March 30, 2012 7:27 AM

      I think the entire entertainment industry is just biding their time until we can jack directly into our nervous system and experience the games without any input or display device. It's just a matter of time. At that point home and mobile entertainment will converge and I will finally have my personal, good enough to be real Jessica Alba sex slave (and there will be no slumber parties).

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