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Codemasters exec. compares PS3 and Xbox 360 to dinosaurs, says consoles could become extinct

by Ethan Powers on July 5, 2012


While the PS3 and Xbox 360 continue to see longevity and commercial success in their sixth and seventh years on store shelves, respectively,  many of the most influential industry executives have spoken out about the future of tangible consoles and what they see as a dying breed in the medium. Codemasters co-founder David Darling, whose company has produced such free to play titles as Operation Flashpoint and Lord of the Rings Online, stated firmly in a recent blog post that if the PS4 and Xbox 720 do not transition to an entirely digital business plan, they’ll both fail.

“If the next generation consoles have media drives like DVD to keep distributors and retailers happy so they can sell physical product this will make the machines uncompetitive,” he said. “They will not be able to compete on price. The retailers will say to Sony and Microsoft ‘you can’t sell game X at retail for $60 and then sell it in your App Store for $2.’ However, console-makers will need to sell games for $2 or else they will not be competitive with Apple. Nintendo 3DS and Sony Vita are not currently competitive with iPhone and Android game prices.”

Darling stated that the digital market gives publishers immediate access to the marketplace and heavily cuts down on the production and distribution costs that boxed games currently require. He goes on to compare current-gen consoles like the PS3 and Xbox 360 to dinosaurs that may be unable to adapt to a new and evolving environment:

“Consoles have become like dinosaurs heading for extinction as their natural retail habitat begins to change. These ancient beasts must now adapt to a new environment where platforms like Steam, Facebook and Apple’s App Store are pushing innovation. People are already playing more games through digital download than physical media. For instance, Angry Birds has had more than one billion downloads, a sales figure totally beyond what can be achieved by boxed games sold in the likes of Game and GameStop.”

The Codemasters co-founder also noted that the risk which comes with developing AAA blockbuster titles causes publishers to focus solely on sequels and clones rather than taking a chance on a new or unique IP. He also goes on to say that a digital market allows a game to become a “service” and not just a “product.”

“Another major difference is that digital download games are a service rather than a product,” he said. “This means that even after a game is launched the publisher has instant access to player feedback, which can be used to make improvements. Games can be updated through multiple iterations. In fact with Apple a new version of the game can be submitted every week and with Android even more frequently. On the current consoles this process is slowed by the need for hardware manufacturers to approve each game and they also charge developers a fee for each update they create.”
Source: Kwalee via GameSpot

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  • Frank

    Is that why BodyCount failed?? LOL Please, Halo, Uncharted, Gears, and The Last of Us are laughing at you guys!

    • Yeezus_Christ

      What I was saying. Body Count gave me diabetes.

  • Frank

    Theres a huge misconception when it comes to those iPhone games. They sell because they’re fun to kill time on the go. You seriously need to put the crack down if you think they’ll replace home console gaming. Maybe portable gaming, but NEVER home consoles. Whats devs need to stop doing is pushing all this DLC and F2P garbage. Why is it they think we want more of that trash? Especially when there are $150 limited edition that are played more than F2P.

  • Jeff

    Nothing should scare the consumer more than “software-as-a-service” (SAAS). Certain rights are conferred on the consumer by purchasing a physical product, such as the right to make a backup-copy as well as other fair-use rights. The software houses want nothing more than to strip fair-use and also to charge users for limited use licenses (aka “subscriptions”), and this is what SAAS is all about.

    I can’t say I blame them. Subscriptions lead to a more steady stream of income, the software houses are able to more easily control digital rights management (copy protection), and they can claim a larger profit if they are able to cut-out the distribution chain. That said, all the positives are in the favor of the software developers and there are relatively few positives for the consumer.

    Even if the costs go down for the developers, don’t expect to see a corresponding drop in prices. And why hold a sale on a new game when you’re the only source for distribution? One can reasonably expect full MSRP to be the rule rather than the exception.

    If the new arrangements mean less money to the console manufacturers then we can expect to see hardware costs rise. Remember that the console manufacturers routinely sell hardware at a loss counting on the revenue generated by the licensing of games by the software houses for their systems.

    Finally, what happens when a software house, being the only distributor for the product, goes out of business? With a physical product at least you can continue playing it, but assuming that there is a network component to the DRM you are screwed. Same problem if you have to replace your hard drive or console and you can’t connect back to the distribution server that no longer exists in order to re-download the content you purchased (I mean “licensed”).

    I’m not saying we don’t have some of these same problems now, but I think things will get quite a bit worse if (when?) things go the SAAS route. It’s not just software either and you can see all the media content owners wanting to do the same thing (movies, music). Maybe it’s inevitable.

  • Allen

    Yeah well Fk David Darling

  • IHATEHIPSTERS

    Haha this guys a moron nobodys going to sell a 60 dollar game for 2 dollars in their app store what is he smokin

  • Underworld

    SCREW DIGITAL! I’m sick of hearing about it. Not everyone wants to buy digital copies. Why the hell can’t we have both? I will never buy digital.

  • ed

    He forgot to mention the part about how digital games deny us the right to loan a game to a friend or sell it. Shhhh. Lets just keep that quiet.

  • njb

    like i said before, aint goin to happen unless everyone has Fibre optics and has at least a consitant 5mb download speed.

    i dont fancy downloading an exclusive for example uncharted its 19gb but it uncompresses to 32gb when u install it. its cheaper on psn store compared to a physical product but 19gb is effort at the moment.

  • Frank

    @hipster
    Have you played any codemasters games? Their budgets like $10, so they might be able to put that garbage on the app store for $2.

  • Argonian Man

    Why did the picture change from the playstation Dinosaur game to this cartoon dinosaur? Just curious.

  • atriedes

    This article is just plain stupid. So, the creator of crappy ‘online’ free-to-play games is slamming the tradition of consoles? Seriously?

    He’s comparing Apples and Oranges. Games like Angry Birds don’t cost much, but have no depth.

    How can he compare the depth of games like Skyrim, Halo, Call of Duty, and other successful consoles games to the crap he’s making?

    Sure they can charge $2 for the apps, but you get what you pay for. Plus, they are for completely different audiences. My Mom played Angry Birds. She plays Zinga games too! But that type of consumer is not going to steal the market away from console games. I seriously doubt she is going to level up an elder scrolls characters’ conjuration skill to 100. Just saying.

    I think this is a horribly stupid article. And the coder that wrote it has delusions of grandeur if he thinks Free to Play ‘Lord of the Rings: Online’ didn’t suck.

    The only thing that I would agree about in this article, is the limitation of dvd’s in the long-run. PS3 has already adopted a blue-ray reader, so the games can hold much more information. I feel that most games, instead of having to buy it in the store, will have a direct to download option.

    But that’s not what he is saying.

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