Will There Be Another Console Generation?

Back before the PS4 and Xbox One launched, the explosion in games for mobile began to raise serious questions about whether there would be a future for consoles. This was a time before free to play games were the main way everyone consumed their entertainment in mobile phones with the likes of Candy Crush or whatever is big these days. The iPhone 4 saw a huge leap forward and a lot of great paid games did come to the phone during this period. Two games I know I bought was, for some reason Jenga and one of my favourite PC titles, Riven: The Sequel to Myst. 

From memory it didn’t seem to concern the thoughts on what the internet was saying on forums and websites, but analysts we’re certainly convinced. And we all know how trustworthy their views are. Right?… … … oh look, tumbleweed. 

Well, we all know how this goes. Sony and Microsoft reveal the PS4 and Xbox One to huge excitement, and then go on to prove the whole theory totally wrong and crap. The PS4 essentially managed this with 117 million units sold. This generation didn’t get any of those theories but it did have another conversation come up. Will there be another generation after this with the rise of cloud based gaming? At the time Google had launched Stadia and Amazon had Luna, though the latter is only in North America. Microsoft too had been, and still is, pushing their own cloud streaming service. Sony announced a deal with Microsoft that allows them to use their servers and have since started pushing in that direction themselves. 

So the question really is, will this be the final console generation from both Sony and Microsoft? We know Nintendo’s stance as they have officially stated the plan to continue launching hardware until it no longer is viable. And we know that it’s most likely something is coming next year in the form of a Switch successor. We also know that Nintendo when required, does have some form of streaming services available through individual game purchases. These are primarily games that apparently won’t run on the current hardware, though that doesn’t answer why Kingdom Hearts was done this way. 

So back to Sony and Microsoft and their future with the hardware scene. Sony has trademarked PlayStation names from 6 to 10 suggesting they are still expecting at least one more generation if not to full on continue them regardless of how big streaming becomes. Mark Cerny also known to be in favour of the idea of generational consoles. Microsoft on the other hand could well be looking to not create any more hardware. Their future looks more like it’s all about Xbox as an ecosystem with streaming to become the heart of how games are played. In fact Phil Spencer believes there’s two billion potential gamers out there. 

The current generation began in 2020 so we know there’s still a good five or six years to go before the next generation would normally be expected to come. That is also a fairly long amount of time for streaming to grow and services to improve. Microsoft buying so many developers and so far, two big publishers, should help them to push this as a way to play their games. They also have both the infrastructure and capital to invest into streaming, something that Sony doesn’t quite have. But Sony does have brand recognition in PlayStation. Sony also knows it’s hardware always does well. The PS3 being the exception to home consoles and the PS Vita being something they had to abandon to focus on making sure the PS4 would have the best chance to succeed. 

Both Sony and Microsoft seem to be going in very different directions with the future of gaming, while Nintendo is looking to continue to do their own thing. At the end of the day, how much time we have until we stop seeing new console hardware and it all becomes streaming is going to vary between all three companies.

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