Twitch CEO: Set-Top Boxes Are the Future, Not Consoles
Think video game consoles are here to stay? Think again. Traditional consoles may soon go the way of the dodo, to be replaced by smaller, more frequently upgraded devices, according to Twitch's co-founder Emmett Shear.
In an interview with The Guardian, Emmett Shear expressed his thoughts on the future of video games. He mentioned that the future of gaming will be changing, steering more towards set-top boxes and microconsoles (because the Ouya and PlayStation TV are such big hits).
"The problem is, the seven-year upgrade lifecycle doesn’t work in the face of the two-year upgrade cycles for every other hardware platform," Shear said. "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."
He continued on to say he believed video game consoles will start having a development cycle similar to handheld devices and tablets. Whether Shear's predictions will come true remains to be seen, but given the history of video game consoles it seems unlikely.
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.
We don't feel like consoles are anything like phones and tablets; incremental upgrades to their tech leads to more headaches for the already-stressed out video game developers, doesn't give developers time to really maximize the power of a given console, and decreases the "wow" factor between console generations, thus decreasing the satisfaction of getting any new hardware. Plus it's a lot more of a pain in the butt to lug home a new console and plug it into your TV than it is to get a new phone up and running. While the most recent generations of consoles had a seven-year lifespan, most have had closer to five years, and it's hard to predict which direction future generations will move in.