Is it the end for games consoles?
Posted: 18th Jul 2012
With news in this week that a rival to Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo has raised nearly $5m on crowdfunding website Kickstarter to develop a $95 games console, is it the beginning of the end for the expensive and graphically powerful set top box of yore?
The new console, called Ouya, is an Android device whose sole purpose is to bring games from the Google Play market to the big screen.
You can, of course, already do this thanks to HDMI adaptors for existing Android devices, but it would be a mistake to write the Ouya off as just a glorified smartphone. It is designed to make the process very easy and will come with its own specially designed controllers too.
Should Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo be preparing for the worst?
Certainly mobile devices like iPads, iPhones and Android phones have thrown up challenges for the big three already. Games for mobile devices are no longer simple Angry Birds-type affairs.
As tablets and phones get more and more powerful, their graphical abilities are challenging current consoles already. Older games like GTA II and Max Payne have already been ported over, and the potential of quad-core tablets hasn’t even begun to be tapped yet. They could conceivably rival something like the Xbox 360 when connected to a big screen.
That bodes well for Ouya, which will be cheap to buy and have a library of thousands of games that are even better than the ones in Google Play available at launch. But don’t write off more powerful consoles just yet.
For starters, there’s no way of knowing right now what the next generation PlayStation and Xbox will be capable of. All the rumours suggest that there will be a new Xbox and a new PlayStation next year, quite what surprising features they’ll have is completely unknown right now, but you can bet Microsoft and Sony aren’t just waiting around for Ouya or other start-ups to come and steal their market.
We’ve only just scratched the surface of what motion control and web based services can do – the next stage of their development will only arrive with those two consoles.
Then there’s the current generation of consoles. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 in particular is almost unrecognisable from its launch all those years ago. It may be the same inside, but the new dashboard, Kinect and the forthcoming Smart Glass project are all signs of a company that knows what it’s doing.
One of the big things for its Windows 8 launch is the ability to stream Xbox games to your PC, and a ‘pay once play anywhere’ philosophy it’s encouraging developers to follow. That will see more games available on Xbox, PC and phone simultaneously, giving the player the ability to pick up any game in progress from where it was left off on a different device.
In addition, Microsoft is pushing cross-platform gaming, so that PC players can participate in multiplayer Xbox matches and vice versa.
Speaking of the PC, perhaps the best reason not to write off the consoles just yet is that the oldest gaming platform currently in use is still growing in terms of revenue and users. More people are playing PC games than at any point in recent years, which just goes to show that gaming is never a case of ‘either or’.
When Ouya launches, it may well be a must-have accessory in the modern gamer’s lounge. But there’s almost no doubt that it will co-exist by the TV with other, more established consoles.
You might also like to read:
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- Why motion control is the next big thing
- Playstation 4 to be called Orbis
- Grand Theft Auto III arrives on phones and tablets
- How to set up a second monitor
- What is Microsoft Kinect