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What Does the Future Hold for Gaming?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016 5:12
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(Before It's News)

From the original Pong home system released in the 70s through the Atari 2600 and Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) to today’s next-gen offerings from Sony and Microsoft, the dedicated games console has dominated the gaming scene. Adherents of PC gaming might claim that PCs and gaming laptops offer a more versatile and higher quality experience but the prohibitive costs and frequent upgrades required tended to make higher-end machines that could compete with consoles more of a specialist niche.

Now though, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 could represent the console’s last gasp at the top of the heap. From an all-time high value of $28.9bn in 2008, the console gaming industry slipped down to $18.3 billion just five years later. That’s hardly small change but it represented a steep decline after years of spectacular growth. “The console market isn’t dying, but it isn’t growing either, which might as well mean the same thing,” said James McQuivey, Principal Analyst and Vice President at Forrester.

There’s still life in the console sector but it’s facing a huge challenge from a number of areas, including mobile and browser-based gaming platforms. At one time, not too long ago, browser games were limited to simple arcade-style games. Now you can play huge, sophisticated MMORPGs via your browser, access fast-paced 3D shooters or visit the best online betting sites for live online gambling. Browsers are increasingly able to process speeds getting close to native consoles without the consumer having to invest in the high-end hardware.

There’s also been a huge blurring of the boundaries between social media sites, browsers and mobile devices. Those who identify themselves as serious gamers might look down on so-called ‘casual’ gamers but the changing demographics are certainly changing the gaming industry as a whole. A Pew Research Center study found that almost half (49%) of all American adults played games on platforms including computers, smart TVs, consoles and mobile devices. The gender split was more or less equal and the clichéd view of the gamer as an adolescent male in his basement bedroom is increasingly being consigned to the past.

Another factor that might contribute to consigning consoles to the past are innovations that also have the hardcore gamers salivating. Both virtual reality and augmented reality have been tried in the past but the reality rarely lived up to the promise. Both are currently being resurrected however and, in the same way that modern 3D movies have eclipsed their earlier incarnations (anyone remember blurry vision and those flimsy red and cyan glasses?), next-gen VR and AR looks like actually being amazing. With a lot of gaming investment now focused on wearables, there’s certainly an appeal in using those wearables in conjunction with a browser rather than a console, as you can load it up through a variety of devices. With the technology behind the browser itself taking the strain, you can access some serious results via your laptop, mobile or even a smart TV. Consoles aren’t dead yet but the days of their continuing dominance are starting to look like they’re numbered.



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