It’s fair to say I’m not a big fan of consoles. They’re expensive, require too big of a time commitment to play, are hard to learn, and give me wicked motion sickness.
But I do respect that millions of people out there absolutely love them. Facts are facts right? In 2010 video console sales totaled 52.3 million units, and that’s a lot of units. And that’s just for one year. It’s estimated there are over 160 million consoles out there.
And that’s great business!
But think about this. In 2010 when video game console sales hit 52 million units, game ready cell phones skyrocketed at over 1.27 BILLION units. Analysts expect over 1.8 billion by 2014, or about 8 billion game ready cell phones on the planet by 2016.
That’s massively formidable.
When I do the math it just makes sense: 160 million units versus 8 billion units.
Here are the 5 reasons I think console gaming is dead:
Development costs are prohibitively expensive
Indie game developers find the development costs of dev stations, licensing, certification and more to be a major barrier to entry
Dev kits can cost as much as $50k each
Console games typically cost $1 million or more to make
Gatekeepers are restrictive about what gets out
The Big 3 (Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft) are restrictive about what they’ll allow on their consoles
Rejection or delays can be very expensive
Player time commitment is expensive
Console games are about time commitment
In a tough economy, leisure time is a luxury
Pick up and play is a growing trend
Game consoles and games are pricey
Console units typically cost $300 and up
New games cost $60 with older titles priced between $20 and $50
Mobile gaming is far more accessible
Development costs are low
No need for licensing or certification
Dev kits are typically free
No restrictions on what can be produced and released
Low time commitment from players
Inexpensive to buy games, ranging from free to $2.99
By 2016, everyone on the planet will have a game ready phone
As consumers migrate to new platforms like iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch) and Android (both tablet and phone) and these devices become more and more powerful, the consumer demand for content increases. Console developers clutch their devices tightly and seemingly ignore the coming wave, giving way to these new mobile platforms as the game development format of choice.
It won’t be long now, but unless console developers do something truly unique and innovative, console gaming will die out.