The death of the console6/18/2014
With more platforms than ever before, entertainment dollars are stretched thin these days. Everything from live entertainment and cable television to smartphones and physical media such as DVDs are fighting for a piece of your expendable income. In this entertainment tug of war, few industries are struggling to hold their ground more than consoling gaming.
In reality, the gaming industry is doing gangbusters. In 2012, all arms of the gaming world raked in a cumulative $67 billion, and in 2017 it’s projected to take in $82 billion. Still, the console gaming is battling to pull its weight. Gamers might be quick to point to Nintendo’s joke of a console, the Wii U, as the offending party, but Microsoft’s XBox One and Sony’s Playstation 4 are also falling short of previous sales benchmarks.
The main reason for declining console revenues is obvious, PC and mobile gaming revenues are cannibalizing console dollars. What’s worse for the future of consoles is the U.S. is far and away the leading console marketplace. Even as Playstations and Xboxes make their way into foreign markets, PC and mobile alternatives are much cheaper and have been popular for years. Which means as stateside dollars dry up, don’t expect Asian or European gamers to save the day.
Truth is, the writing has been on the wall for years. Hoping to break into new entertainment venues, Sony and Microsoft developed their consoles to accept non-gaming entertainment options. Sony literally invented Blu-ray, and its Playstation 3 was considered by many to be the best Blu-ray player for years. Microsoft’s Xbox has been a popular platform to stream media for more than a decade and one of the first DVR options.
Even with all their bells and whistles, consoles are expensive — hundreds of dollars more expensive than their alternatives. So console’s failing attempt to transition to home entertainment center should come as no surprise to anyone.
At this point, the question is no longer how the console will die, but when. In the meantime, expect console manufacturers to stave extinction with every augmented reality, holographic display and other useless entertainment tool they can think of. CV
Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. Follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb.