Analysts and insiders have been calling for the end of video game consoles for some time. Most recently, the co-founder of Twitch TV Emmett Shear believes that the Xbox and PS4 could be the last dedicated games consoles as we know them.
The seven-year upgrade lifecycle doesn’t work
Speaking recently to the Guardian, Shear explained his stance. “The seven-year upgrade lifecycle doesn’t work in the face of the two-year upgrade cycles for every other hardware platform,” said Shear. “It’s so intrinsically built into how consoles get manufactured and made and the full business model, that I’d be surprised to see another generation.”
Shear believes that consoles will function more like set-top boxes, and have a shorter lifespan. “You can already see this on both Xbox and PlayStation where there’s a tighter upgrade loop for both the operating systems and the games. This is the first step toward being able to iterate the hardware platform. I could imagine a version 1.1 product from both Microsoft and Sony which adds in slightly more speed and slightly more memory very similar to how phones and tablets work today. I think it’s going to look more like the mobile phone market over time.”
Time will tell if Shear is right or not. We’ve seen consoles from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo become more flexible in what they’re used for in recent generations. Things like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, and other media functionality have become big selling points for the hardware. While Microsoft nor Sony has indicated their intentions to make new consoles, Nintendo is apparently is apparently sticking to the hardware game.
The company recently announced the Nintendo NX alongside their new initiative to make mobile games, so consoles might not be dying off as Shear believes.