The increasing gravitation towards network-driven and social gaming may eventually make the notion of dedicated gaming hardware obsolete, Square Enix president Yoichi Wada hypothesized in a recent interview.
Speaking to trade publication Develop
, Wada said that the potential market penetration in the growing area of web-based and social games is so large that game makers can't afford to ignore it.
"Let's say in ten years time what we traditionally call 'console games' simply won't exist," Wada suggested. "In the past the platform was hardware, but that switched to the network. So a time will come when the hardware isn't even needed any more."
"The exact timing at which it will go away is hard to determine, but somewhere around 2005 the console manufacturers' strategy shifted," Wada said, referring to the increased focus on online initiatives by console makers, particularly Microsoft.
"The true strength of the Xbox 360 is Xbox Live," he added. Wada referred to the increasing convergence of Xbox Live and its younger cousin Games for Windows Live as an example of the kind of centralized network-driven system that may point the way to the future.
But it's the purely internet-based social and browser games that have the most potential to reach previously unknown audience sizes, Wada pointed out.
"Browser games mean all the data can be kept in the server," he said. "With that, any kind of terminal becomes a potential platform in which games can be played. That's exponential growth in the potential growth of gaming. The potential size of the market is enormous."