any have speculated that this may very well be the final full-fledged console generation. With heightened production costs, supposedly “inadequate” sales numbers, and increasing competition from outside markets; i.e. smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, digital download services, and so forth, it isn’t difficult to imagine.
Case in point; consider the rumors of yet another new console being released into the market, from a recent article via joystiq:
“Online retail giant Amazon will enter the Android console market later this year, according to Game Informer sources. In a brief report, the site claims people with ‘knowledge of the in-development hardware’ said the Amazon console will have its own controller, will use Amazon’s own library of Android apps, and will ‘most likely’ be available by Black Friday.
Meanwhile, GamesBeat notes it’s ‘heard rumblings’ of the console, including one developer’s report that Amazon exhibited a version of it recently. However, GamesBeat also says a couple of sources weren’t sure if ‘Amazon was serious’ about developing it.”
Of course, this is all just speculation and rumors at this point, but who would honestly be surprised at this point? And that right there is the point.
Typically, if everyone and their grandma is doing a thing (other than eat, sleep, love and work), then more than likely that thing is not particularly worth a lot of time or investment. For example, consider the current situation involving college and the “Education Bubble.”
The rising theme of the upcoming generation of consoles is that of new companies getting involved with their own unique consoles. Even Mad Catz is coming out with a console, and the article quoted above even lists some more examples within. So let’s recap just how many consoles are projected to be released or already have been released into the market this generation:
- Wii U
- Xbox One
- Nvidia Shield
- Oculus Rift
- Lord knows what else
There seems to be a recurring pattern here:
First, video games become bigger and bigger, eventually reaching a point where they’re aping “movie quality” content, perhaps wanting a taste of the large numbers the box office so often brings in. We see this manifesting in video games becoming more “cinematic,” a prevalence of quick time events and the increase in “one-button game play” nearly rendering many modern video games to a step above interactive movies, and of course some unrealistically large projections and sales goals/expectations (i.e. Resident Evil 6, Tomb Raider, etc.).
With this “failing,” there is also the continual push to make every game more like Call of Duty, which also fails. With these attempts, sequels keep coming out, and sales continue to wane.
Despite these lackluster results and profits, a superficial presentation of extravagance is boasted none the less (i.e. E3 reveals, conferences, etc.). Then focus is put onto the smartphone and mobile market, more than likely wanting to mimic the cheap production costs and high profit margins throughout that particular market (i.e. Square Enix).
Finally, we now have the mobile gaming market ironically attempting to mimic the console market, with notable examples of the Ouya, Nvidia Shield, etc. It’s almost like some sort of big, wibbly-wobbly financial Ouroboros.
The fact that the overall quality of these “new consoles” is at best questionable, and at worst near abysmal, also perturbs the situation. It shouldn’t be all that surprising that a market of games with a minute barrier of entry and defined by cheap, “on-the-go” entertainment does not necessarily translate well to an engaging, solitary, “home” gaming experience.
It also seems like a strange time to want to push a new console out onto the market, with the industry as a whole pushing towards inevitable DRM and digital distribution. At least a Steambox would have a fortified base to work from; Steam. Though the Oculus Rift is still somewhat of a known unknown at this point, and could go either way at this point in terms of quality or impact.
Perhaps all of these could be considered signs of a “Console Bubble” forming and about to burst. Only time will tell.