Xbox head Phil Spencer during the FTC investigation into Microsoft purchasing Activision Blizzard has stated that he expects the next generation of consoles to come in 2028. That’s a pretty scary thought to think that Microsoft and I assume Sony already have dates in mind for when to get the successor hardware out in the wild. But it does make sense to have a definitive deadline in place when doing R&D. But it also got me thinking, how many of the people in the gaming industry are still going to be in the scene come 2028?
Generally speaking, Sony and Microsoft have new management teams in place in the lead up to each new console launch. So Jim Ryan and Phil Spencer wouldn’t be still at the helm come the PS6 and whatever the next Xbox is called. That’s based on how it’s been in the past. But, it’s more than just that. A lot of the big names in gaming got their break during the 1980s and 90s. How many of them will still be involved with the development or publishing of games in the next 5 years? Assuming they were 20 years old when they started their careers back in the early to mid 1980s, a great deal will be either in their 60s or soon to be. Are we about to see a big seismic shift in the industry?
Yves Guillemot is one of the founders of Ubisoft way back in 1986. He has overseen huge transformation in the company which has allowed it to become one of the biggest third party publishers in the industry. However, he has also had to deal with staving off a hostile takeover and has overseen the publisher fall on shaky ground during the more recent times. There has also been a massive blowout revolving around sexual harassment that has taken place throughout the company as a whole under his leadership, regardless how much he may or may not have been aware. Come 2026, Yves would have been running Ubisoft for 40 years. I’m not sure off the top of my head if that would make him the longest running CEO of a video game company, but if it’s not, I can’t imagine there being more than one or two who have been in the same position for any longer.
Over at Nintendo, one of the most recognisable names in the industry, Shigeru Miyamoto, made his break all the way back in 1981 with the arcade sensation Donkey Kong. Miyamoto had already been working at Nintendo for three years prior to that release. He has, of course gone on to create some of the biggest and most recognisable franchises in not just gaming but entertainment. Reggie Fils-Aimé was for two decades, the face of Nintendo in the West during everything from the beginnings of the GameCube all the way up to overseeing the successful launch of the Nintendo Switch. After leaving Nintendo of America, Reggie was replaced with Doug Bowser. A man, who has been known to have a suspicious past time of kidnapping princesses and trying to destroy plumbers and mushrooms. Yes, I know that’s like the most overdone joke ever. Shut up!
Phil Spencer started working at Microsoft back in 1988 but has been involved with the Xbox division since the launch of the first console over twenty years ago. Since then, Phil Spencer has been involved with all four consoles and will no doubt be hugely involved with whatever hardware Microsoft releases to replace the current generation, even if he isn’t running things by the time it launches.
The gaming industry has always seen huge changes, it comes with the territory. We have witnessed huge improvements in the hardware that powers the games. We have seen companies come and go. But we have also seen a lot of big names enter and leave the industry too. Trip Hawkins is a name most people will be familiar with, especially if they were gaming in the 1980s and 90s. Originally founding Electronic Arts (EA), Trip Hawkins then went on to launch The 3DO Company. Initially planned to release consoles that competed with the likes of Nintendo and Sega, after the system failed miserably, all R&D for the follow up was sold off and the company became a third party publisher. In doing this, The 3DO Company managed to beat Sega by a good few years. However, this too was a failure and by the early 2000s, the entire company was bankrupt. Nice one.
Sega had three names come and go in less than a decade. First up with total freedom to turn Sega in North America into not just a success but also to beat Nintendo. Tom Kelinske was Sega’s secret weapon for the North American market, but as always, Sega of Japan became jealous of his success so pretty much removed said powers and forced him into one of the most disastrous launches of any console ever. That’s right, I’m talking about the Sega Saturn. Tom Kelinske is also responsible for Silicon Graphics working with Nintendo to develop the N64 and then GameCube. Kinda a screw you to Sega of Japan. Upon quitting Sega, replaced Tom Kelinske with Bernie Stolar.
Bernie Stolar was one of many people behind the successful launch of the PlayStation in the West, but is perhaps best remembered for his E3 1994 conference where upon walking on stage, Bernie bludgeoned Sega with the one word “299” before walking off to much cheering. Unfortunately for Sega, Bernie Stolar had a thing about not liking anything 2D or RPG and cancelling multiple games including the forth Streets of Rage because apparently he had never heard of the series. Oh and then Bernie Stolar went on to say that “The Saturn is not our future” and thus immediately destroyed all future hardware sales.
After removing Bernie Stolar, we finally saw Peter Moore take the reins. Peter Moore is probably most known for being the person to make the decision to discontinue the Dreamcast and announce Sega’s exit of the hardware business to focus entirely on being a third party publisher. After his time at Sega, Peter Moore ventured further into the gaming industry through the likes of Microsoft’s Xbox division and EA.
So, we have certainly seen many big changes in the past but the near future may well see a lot of big names leave the industry in a relatively short period of time.