We’ve all noticed the trend around physical game discs. They’re disappearing.
Around 40% of all games are downloaded and experts predict that by 2023 that number will be 100%. And game developers love that. Compared to digital downloads, game discs are expensive. Plus, online retailers look forward to a time when they can control the game sale environment (no more used game shops!). They’ll get to control price too.
But this shift could mean other changes too, especially to the console market. Consoles that no longer require physical discs could become obsolete quickly.
Great example: Netflix.
Netflix and other streaming services effectively killed off the DVD and DVD player markets. The exact same thing could happen to consoles.
Sure, games require WAAAAAY more processing power and internet bandwidth than movies do to work on demand , but internet speeds are increasing. Technology like Google Fiber could be the game changer that kills consoles for good. All the processing could happen in the cloud, so game developers could make games available directly on a person’s device, allowing players to stream games with no console whatsoever.
So what happens to Sony and Nintendo and Microsoft? They’re pretty savvy businesses, so I’m willing to bet they’ll find a way to survive. Take Nintendo for example. They’ve stayed relevant by innovating new technology (à la Wii, Wii U, and Switch).
Perhaps they pivot from manufacturing consoles and licensing games into publishing libraries of games. Each has their own digital platform (Nintendo Online Store, Playstation Store, XBox Marketplace) and work vehemently to acquire unique publishing rights. Next-gen consoles might not be consoles at all, but distribution apps or online play-spaces. Maybe game developers bypass publishers altogether and publish on their own sites.
I’m looking forward to the changes that come. I’ve been waiting for this day since Squaresoft announce Final Fantasy 7 wouldn’t be on Nintendo, like they’d announced. A dark day indeed.
Quick question for our readers: Do you think consoles will find a way to stay alive? How?