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Analysts: Single Console Future 'Bad For The Industry'

Despite calls from Denis Dyack and EA's Gerhard Florin for a single console platform, analysts writing in Gamasutra's latest feature have near unanimously agreed
Despite calls from Denis Dyack and EA's Gerhard Florin for a single console platform, analysts have near unanimously agreed it would be "bad for the industry," hindering innovation and consumer choice. For our latest regular Analyze This feature, We asked Ed Barton of Screen Digest, Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan Securities, Ben Bajarin of Creative Strategies and Billy Pidgeon of IDC: Do you think it's possible that the video games industry will create a standardized (development or hardware) platform in the future? How would independent developers not benefit in a market with a single gaming platform? Isn't PC gaming already the "one gaming platform" standard? Or is this analogy not quite right? In surprising concordance, while most agreed that such a unification would be good for cheaper and more accessible development, the realities of existing console manufacturers requiring proprietary formats and lack of technology-driven innovation would ultimately hinder the industry. Said Pidgeon: The idea of a single platform for the video game console industry has been kicked around nearly every video game cycle. Publishers would gain leverage over console manufacturers or forego licensing payments altogether with a collaborative organization to develop standard hardware and software specs and requirements. I don't believe such a consortium could bring about a single console system. Business models and publisher strategies are too divergent to enable agreement on a hardware platform. EA's Gerhard Florin recently proposed that the industry could embrace a single console in 15 years. By that time, most software could be distributed over the network and network-based processing could enable less dependence on client-side processing. This could solve hardware compatibility issues and could bring immersive interactive entertainment to simpler clients like televisions, media servers and cable or satellite receivers. While the hardware differentiation will go away, proprietary networks will not. The processing and programming would be unique to the network, so we'd likely see providers like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo offer competing technology over the network as the client device evaporates into the home entertainment system and the convergent mobile device. We'll likely also see proprietary game networks from EA, Disney, Activision and others, connecting gamers across publishers' game libraries and proprietary networks. Business and technology models would be similar to cable television or mobile service provider models with another layer added by differentiated proprietary network processing underneath publishers' games and service providers' user networks. I hope that we also get those jetpacks we've all been waiting for. You can now read the entire Gamasutra feature, with more from our analysts on the realities of a one console future, and how, by contrast, the PC and mobile sectors could actually benefit more from this line of thought.

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