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Ngmoco's Cousins predicts the death of consoles within 5-10 years
Ngmoco's Cousins predicts the death of consoles within 5-10 years
June 26, 2012 | By Brandon Sheffield

June 26, 2012 | By Brandon Sheffield
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Ben Cousins, general manager of Ngmoco, formerly of EA DICE, Sony, and Lionhead, has not been shy about his support of the mobile space, or of freemium. He was the driving force behind EA's free to play Battlefield Heroes, and now Ngmoco's Swedish studio's triple-A iOS title.

At GDC Taipei, Cousins gave a keynote that shared his projections for the five big trends in the game industry across the next 5-10 years. Most interestingly, Cousins outlined how and why he believes freemium and mobile will effectively kill game consoles.

"When I'm talking about mobile, I'm talking about the operating system, not the device," he clarifies. "I believe these operating systems will start to appear in other classes of devices, other than just mobile phones and tablets. In the future I think mobile gaming maybe won't be so mobile, and we may need a new definition for them."

Trend 1: Mobile kills console

"There's a potential for mobile gaming to kill console gaming," he began. "I'm talking about a significant reduction of market share with no chance of return."

There are two ways this can happen -- either people can move from consoles to a new device, or the market can expand without you. An example of the latter might be the social game space, which as exploded beyond the reach of traditional consoles. Already in Japan, just two social and mobile game companies, Gree and DeNA, generate more money than the entirety of the console software industry.

"Your sales drop in relative terms because a new product or a new class of product enters the market, and expands the market so much that your marketshare shrinks," he says. Android and iOS are growing fast, and "Research shows that at least half of these devices are being used as game devices," he says.

In terms of installed base, the Xbox 360 is over 60 million, but iOS devices, even reduced by half to reflect that not all users play games on them, are owned by 160 million people. And as the average monthly payout since launch of app store has rapidly grown, revenue for the traditional packaged game industry is in a steady decline. "The cost of a traditional game company to transition into an online game company is extremely high," he notes. It's better if you "don't have to transform your business, you just start a new company."

Cousins cites the decline of dedicated hardware as a precedent; Blu-ray players, camcorders, GPS systems, mp3 players, point and shoot cameras, and even TV sales are down. Mobile devices serve all these needs, and play games, besides. "I believe consoles will be the next hardware to have a major reduction."

"I believe that sometime during the next console generation, globally, both the revenue and the marketshare for games will be larger in mobile than it is for console," he added. "I believe Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo won't produce dedicated hardware past the next generation. ... Further, I believe traditional game companies like EA will be purchased by existing digital companies, or close entirely."

Trend 2: Mobile kills PC browser

"I think Facebook is losing its viability as a browser game platform," says Cousins. "This is because Facebook is becoming a mobile platform." In India for instance, 30 percent of Facebook users on mobile only -- they've only ever accessed it on mobile.

Then there's Facebook's close relationship between Zynga. Cousins outlined it like this: Until opening the platform, Facebook got $550 million annually through Facebook credits -- $375 million of that was from Zynga. Zynga accounts for 12 percent of Facebook revenue, and spends $70 million annually on ads in Facebook. Zynga has an exclusivity agreement to use Facebook accounts for games, and in return Facebook has agreed to help Zynga hit growth targets for some titles.

Facebook was a great hope, "But I believe that this special relationship between Zynga and Facebook makes it hard for anyone else to compete in this space," he says. But there's no better platform for browser games than that, so he feels that Facebook will cease to be a viable platform for browser games, and that audience will migrate to mobile.

"I believe that companies relying on revenue from PC browser games will need to compete to mobile or fail," he said. But he also believes core-oriented games like MMOs and FPS titles will remain on PC, because mobile can't yet serve their needs.

Trend 3: Freemium dominates worldwide

"Only a few years ago, the console was the dominant platform in Japan, but now we're seeing a much bigger transition over to mobile," he says, noting DeNA and GREE's market dominance. In Asia, freemium is all, he says. In the western world, it's not quite the case yet. The dominating revenue in the western world is still non-freemium. Even EA admits that free-to-play is an inevitability, he says, noting that EA's push to get into the digital space has only allowed the company to break even, not to thrive.

Cousins believes that in the Western world, revenue from freemium will be bigger than that from full priced packaged packaged and digital goods in the very near future.

Trend 4: 3D graphics become a commodity

The old world was proprietary 3D. Proprietary textures, their own 3D engine. There was no real middleware back then. Fixed business models meant differentiation with graphics. "There were a lot of small studios that didn't find it possible to pay the licensing fees [of existing middleware like Renderware], and were forced to roll their own technology," he says. This was costly and risky, and caused many games to get canceled.

"The new world is much more commoditized," he says, with products like Epic's UDK and Unity, that make the back end of 3D graphics very simple. "Your art assets can come as a commodity as well," he says, noting Unity's asset store and the proliferation of outsourcers. In 5-10 years, Cousins thinks that "the majority of top-grossing games worldwide will be developed on 3rd party engines, using significant pre-built commoditized 3D assets."

Trend 5: Asia rises (again)

In the earlier days of games, "Western game developers, the companies we looked to were all Asian," he says. "These were the guys making the best games in the world."

But in the 2000s Western brands became dominant. "As gamers in the western world, we shifted our focus away from Asia, to hardware and software that was developed in the West," he added. But now Asian companies have made huge investments in Western companies. Like Tencent investing in Riot and Epic. At this point, only Activision is bigger than Nexon, Gree, and DeNA in terms of market cap.

"Four our of five of the world's biggest gaming companies by market cap will be Asian," he predicts. "And I believe an Asian company will buy one or more of the big western game companies, like Activision, EA, or Take-Two."


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Comments


Armando Marini
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I said similar things 3 years ago (http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/ArmandoMarini/20090416/83762/The_C
onsole_Degeneration.php)

Ben's view seem to be skewed toward some self serving end considering where Ngmoco resides in the industry. Right off the hop, Mobile killing console or PC is misleading. We are lazy monkeys that love to sit on big comfy surfaces and watch big glorious pictures. "Mobile" is not that. Mobile is smaller, more easily digested games. There is a market for all of it, so the future is about getting content that you control to the user over as many devices as possible.

Gaming channels are what we'll see 5-10 years from now and game providers will be distinguished by what type of content they pipe through those channels.

Merc Hoffner
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I keep saying it, but I think the part of the equation everyone likes to miss all the time is the interface. Unlike practically all other media, games are interactive and so the interface is paramount. There are generalized solutions to physical user interface - basically mouse/keyboard and touchscreens - and these do suit a wide variety of applications including a range of gaming potential. But they don't suit everything.

Gaming unlike so many other media simply cannot be reduced to a software only equation across its full spectrum of potential. For this reason there will always be hardware vending (even if it's reduced to just the controller itself) and there will always be proprietary platforms. You can make a decent all purpose standard for video delivery by committee ala VHS ->DVD -> h.264, but you cannot cannot cannot make a controller by committee. Else we'd all be stuck with the Genesis controller forever and gameplay would be very very stuck.

Armando Marini
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Merc,

You are totally correct. What makes most sense to me is the addition of a channel to hardware outlets. So, for instance, imagine a Sony TV having the cross media interface of the PS3 and channels for the partner publishers under the game heading just like Netflix is under the TV/Video heading.

Until a method of development surfaces that makes better graphics cheaper to create, more processing horsepower is not yet needed.

Joe Cooper
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In other news:

1) The death of the PC in 5 years

2) 2013 will be the Year of Linux on the Desktop!

3) Computers can read minds now, I saw a tech demo where they moved a cursor on a screen so it's just around the corner I'm sure.

4) Death rays are just around the corner, I heard Hitler's working on one.

etc.

They might come out less, they might become thin clients, they might be made by Apple, I dunno.

But there is and will be a position for games on the couch with a pad in your hands and a great big screen. People like it and commoditization of whatever will only make it easier to supply this demand.

JB Vorderkunz
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Yeah, I don't think this guy's given the WiiU any real thought. I clearly remember thinking at the announcement of the original Wii 2 years prior to launch "dang I wish I had nintendo stock", and hearing "that's weird it's gonna bomb". WiiU is going to be revolutionary IMHO - this guy is just seeking Ngmoco guy is just stumping for investors.

Jorge Ramos
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I predict the death of ngmoco in 3-4 years. ;) you heard it here first.

Joe McGinn
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Wow look at the thanks pile up ... for some reason Cousins seems to inspire crazy rage in some people ... whatever, I guess haters gonna hate. Actual debate of the issues he raises would be more interesting however.

Bob Stevens
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I wouldn't say it's really Cousins, but more the trend of making self-serving predictions about the death of things people really like. Heads of fringe companies like this have been making the "death of consoles" prediction for years. Having a history in the industry doesn't make your argument any more original or make the conflict of interest any less visible.

But yeah, one has to figure that another random company in an endless sea of indistinguishable mobile cash grabbers is a little more vulnerable than an established multibillion dollar business in the short term.

Aaron Fowler
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People are free to speculate anyway they want.

Eric Geer
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What's the point talking about 5-10 years from now..

the world is ending this year! Didn't he hear!?!?

But seriously---this is just another dime a dozen opinons list...and has a faint hint of "Nintendo is d00med" in it.

Richard Lyle
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If memory serves, the PC gaming market was should have died back in the 90's.... So tired of this speculation about the death of consoles and PC gaming, I think there is plenty of room for all to do quite well.

William Johnson
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Well, to be fair PC almost did die off in the 90's. Its a good thing that Valve pretty much single handily saved the PC gaming industry with Steam, or else we might not be having the PC revolution we are right now.

Andrew Grapsas
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You mean... a mobile company is predicting mobile dominance?

Gamasutra should just filter this garbage. It's reducing the quality of reading.

Michael Cheng
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Agreed. How many times do we really need to read the same headline over and over based off another mobile developer's opinion? Gamasutra should split the editorial content out into a different section so those who want to read news can without having to wade through opinions.

matt klinck
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Agenda aside, the rise of the mobile market and "freemium" is undeniable. And while I don't see Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo going away; I do see the developers making a shift into mobile and "freemium" a lot more common. EA investing 25 million into mobile development is evidence enough that some companies are making that shift. The most valid point he makes here is companies gravitating to newer markets, which doesn't mean the death of consoles, but instead the spread of gaming content on all platforms which I think we can all appreciate. Especially if that means better quality of content on mobile and "freemium".

Ken Love
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Just like Neil over there, another guy with a BIG mouth that's crying for attention. :-/

Kris Graft
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Whoa! Lots of hate here. So anyhow, I realize that what Cousins says is somewhat controversial (and yes, even though he used to work at boxed game companies, he does work in mobile now).

Yet I only see a couple decent seeds of arguments here about how he could be wrong. I'm not convinced that it's "garbage" or so unbelievable to think that in the year 2022, we might not have a dedicated game console to hook up to a television (PS3 and 360 are already well on their way to being non-dedicated media hubs).

Likewise, with the rate that tablets and their OSes are evolving, what's so hard to imagine that in 2022 you might load up an Unreal Engine 5 or 6 FPS on your tablet (did you see Trend 4?), connect it and a controller to a TV and have at it. Is that a "mobile" game in the way that Cousins describes? Yeah, I think it is (see third paragraph). TVs have even begun adopting mobile OSes -- built-in -- hinting at a future of new ways to get games, and traditional ways of playing them (yes, from your couch).

I've seen a comment or two here about Nintendo... I still think they're a wild card because they still view video games as interactive toys (that's a compliment), and there might always be a place for them because of their expertise in game hardware.

What Cousins is describing is not some kind of Back to the Future hoverboards type future (although that would be pretty sweet). Take a look around, and you'll see that these things are already starting to happen.

Bob Charone
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in Japan video game arcades still exists, but arcades have been overtaken by other things like consoles and PC.

the 'death' of consoles will be that mobile has become more important to focus on, just like consoles had become more important than PCs (i'm not sure but i think there are more console devs on this site than PC?)

Ardney Carter
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I think an underlying issue that many have with what was said is simply the way it was phrased.

He straight up says "There's a potential for mobile gaming to kill console gaming". Now obviously, plenty of people have a problem with that. Sure, in the context of his remarks he backpeddles and tries to clarify with an 'well uh, what I REALLY mean is...' but it doesn't change the fact that he opened up with a sensationalist statement and people are, rightly, going to call him on it.

Additionally, regardless of the ubiquity of mobile devices there is still a portion of the gaming market that does not buy into it and is quite comfortable with dedicated gaming devices, myself included. We're not going anywhere and as long as that's the case, there will be dedicated gaming devices to serve our needs.

Speaking to the question you posed in the 3rd paragraph, yes, I find it extremely hard to believe that that scenario would ever play out in my case. Here's why: I work around desktop computers all day and I have a desktop computer and dedicated consoles at home. Given that, I have never, nor will I ever, feel the need to invest in a smart phone or tablet. I always have access to the internet as is and in addition to this I don't feel that internet access is MANDATORY for enjoyable gaming. Sometimes it enhances the experience but there are plenty of other times where I honestly don't feel like dealing with the gamer community at large. So again, if I have no reason to leave my current platforms and adopt mobile devices, there is no chance of me buying a future where dedicated platforms for gaming cease to exist.

Joe Cooper
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There is no pressure to combine the physical devices because -none- of the software is going to meet both use cases.

There -is- pressure -against- connecting your phone to your TV because even if the phone is powerful enough for all gaming purposes, it is still a device you need to move around and take calls with.

When you consider that this cheap future phone is capable of all gaming tasks, you realize that a game console is so astoundingly cheap that there is no reason not to have one.

As far as game design occurs, literally nothing changes because the console use case and interface is -still- wildly different no matter what CPU is connected to what.

It would change the game console market's narrative; this "our system is faster" story WILL die.

But gamepad & TV gaming is not going anywhere.

The reaction is not because this is controversial, but because it's tiresome. Anyone remember when Flash on Facebook was going to kill console gaming? Cause it was all over this site until the iPhone flipped over that narrative.

For our purposes, console means gamepad & TV and that is not going away for the foreseeable future, nor will it cease to warrant special game design considerations that render its software incompatible with the mobile market.

Joe McGinn
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Thanks for actually discussing the issues in the article Kris!

Cousins makes some interesting points. The main one I disagree with is #5. Asian devs own free-to-play ... for now ... but their production values and gameplay are frankly terrible. I believe Western devs will actually dominate free-to-play the more they enter the fray.

Joe McGinn
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"But gamepad & TV gaming is not going anywhere."

No one, not even Cousins, suggested that it is. What he's talking about is the death of the current console retail business model. He specifically said his definition of mobile is the OS, not the hardware, and that it may become less mobile (think iOS on your TV, etc.).

Joe Cooper
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"No one, not even Cousins, suggested that it is. What he's talking about is the death of the current console retail business model. He specifically said his definition of mobile is the OS"

Aha.

Okay, that's... The complete polar opposite of controversial.

Why would the definition of mobile be the OS? Ah never mind.

And one last thing: People will resort to eating children within 5-10 years.

Note: The definition of "children" is "vegetables".

Jonathan Jou
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I think it's more worthwhile to remember that we are speculating about the future, and so we can only use the data at hand, but Cousins doesn't seem to be using enough of it to support a theory that is still too outlandish to be considered anything less than "well-motivated."

I would like to put forward a different situation, responding directly to your ideas since other than trend 4 the "reasons" in this article are not all too convincing to me.

Most of the discussion here seems to be assuming that gaming hardware is going to stagnate instead evolve, while mobile hardware will continue to reach unbelievable rates of power, even though phones are fast running into issues such as battery life and other deeper problems that come with trying to save as much power as possible. Is it really the case that mobile has no direction to grow but up, while consoles are going to be stuck delivering current-gen experiences?

Why are we assuming our phones will have a built in Kinect 3.0? Why should we assume the next Cell processor will fit in the palm of our hand? Are the discussions here all taking for granted the downfall of Nvidia and AMD, who make most of their money off of selling new hardware as often as they can, in as many ways as they can? Do people really think that there is nothing new to offer in the gaming industry that can't be done on a phone?

Why are we assuming that the market will "die" in any definition of the word? There's probably a lot of potential in the freemium realm, but people have heralded the death of hardcover books for a long time now and I don't see that as guaranteed, even if plausible. What's more, even in this new magical world where the market grows (Wii-style) beyond the limits of the expected market, that doesn't make the user base that wanted the original experience to go away, or to be suddenly satisfied with feedback-free interfaces (fighting game enthusiasts buy their fighting sticks for a reason, I think) and limited screen estate? Why won't TVs just get massively larger, and hardware companies become better at rendering at insane resolutions? Why won't hardware manufacturers make it so that phones can't keep up?

I don't know the answer to these questions, but I'd be very interested to hear a more detailed analysis of why Cousins believes he can rule them out.

I fully accept that market shares have no reason to be the same in 10 years, but if the manager of a mobile company wants to support the idea that current trends are evidence of the future he wants, it would make more sense for him to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that the current trends are here to stay, and going in the direction he claims. Citing a few examples does not rid me of reasonable doubt. I would understand him saying "this is the future we're betting on," like the lottery player telling me his monthly numbers, but for me to give him any more credibility than wishful lottery player thinking I'd need a lot more data.

Aaron Casillas
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I predict they shall become the same thing...

Jeremy Alessi
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While everyone's chiming in, I agree with the guy and have agreed from the beginning and I think I wrote the first feature for Gama back in 2008 (http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/132290/ilang_syne_a_guide_t
o_iphone_game_.php).

The future component describes what we now know as Apple TV and AirPlay.

It's not so much that mobile as we know it will dominate and these other formats will discontinue. Really, it's simply that mobile will evolve to encompass these other formats. Your game console will be your phone hooked up to a big screen and your PC will be your phone with some other tools attached (keyboard etc.)

Really, this is old news now. I think it's important to note that ngmoco was already emerging as a leader in 2008, which means that they were eyeing this market before then, which puts any of our speculation way behind the actions that these guys took.

If anything Ben is just chanting the same message that the company has believed in for the past 4-5 years. There's nothing wrong with that. The only difference is that 4-5 years ago everyone would have told him he was crazy and now everyone claims to have the same ideas and understanding now that it's been proven.

Peter Kozlowski
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At that point it becomes arguing over definitions. If I plug in my phone into a TV and hook up a controller to it, is it mobile gaming or console gaming?

Is a smartphone a phone with a built-in computer or a computer with a built-in phone?

Harlan Sumgui
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And it is important to emphasize that part of his argument is that box/console stuff may not shrink in $ terms (it might even grow), rather he is saying that the mobile space is growing exponentially and the console market is not and will not.

And that means that as a %tage of the market, the couch/console/boxed-retail model will undoubtedly decline, even if in dollar terms it is growing.

Benjamin Quintero
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I predict that, in 5-10 years:

1) All U.S. citizens will have the right to own their own dooms day device.
2) "virtual" reality is old news. "real" reality is the hot new thing.
3) Social networks will implode when everyone gets tired of reading what their "friends" had for breakfast.
4) Youtube will become the source for all hard hitting news; mostly still nut shots though.
5) People's idea of "news" will be outlandish predictions about a completely uncertain future... oh wait...
6) Fossil fuel will be replaced with goat's blood and ginseng extract.
7) Pencil erasers will be more valuable than gold.
8) The sky will fall, but only 3/4 of an inch so no one will notice.
9) In an effort to clear the US Debt, the president will open a Kickstarter campaign, but end up $25 short of their goal.
10) The gaming population will involve 80% female, 20% male, and males will be mocked as "not real gamers"... As a consequence, all male video game characters are eunuchs to be used as play things by their female heroines.

Kris Graft
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11) Your car will be a mobile phone.

Joe McGinn
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#12 - Ben Cousins stating his opinions will still drive fanbois into apoplectic rage.

Ian Uniacke
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I don't think it's fair to classify "making a humorous tongue-in-cheek rebuttal" as "apoplectic rage".

TC Weidner
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I totally disagree. Mobile gaming is great, but lets get real I have a large screen tv, with a killer speaker system and a comfy couch for a reason. Its my preferred mode to enjoy my hobby in. Hell even when I pc game I have a special desktop rig, mobile devices can not touch the experience I get from these stationary monsters.

Mobile is great when I am away from my toys, but given a choice, please.. not even close, give me the power, size, and visceral experience of my home set ups.

Hell I think they declare PC gaming dead every 5 years for the last 20 years, yet here we are, stronger then ever.

Jeremy Alessi
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"9) In an effort to clear the US Debt, the president will open a Kickstarter campaign, but end up $25 short of their goal."

Love it!

Maria Jayne
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This seems more of a hope than a prediction, in 5-10 years, nobody is gonna care what was said right now, the guy saying it probably won't even be employed at the company for whatever reason.

Alexander Brandon
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First, this is quite a range (5-10 years). Second, we've heard about the death of consoles before. I believed it then, but it still didn't happen. In addition, mobile will not kill console. It will definitely put a dent in it. People are interested in arcade experiences more, not the 50 hour plus total with 4-5 hour long sessions we used to enjoy. But that won't prevent them from seeking a large screen, large sound experience. Put simply games will be like film, with maybe 10-20 AAA billion dollar hits coming out once a year and the rest either breaking even or losing money. The hits will all be large format of some sort, be it PC or living room, however they are delivered. But I seriously doubt mobile 3d will match Unreal 4 within 5 years. Maybe 10, but by then we'll all be playing hologram games ;)

Adam Bishop
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"Blu-ray players, camcorders, GPS systems, mp3 players, point and shoot cameras, and even TV sales are down."

I find it hard to be surprised that in a time of worldwide economic turmoil we're not seeing growth in the sales of luxury items like TVs, Blu-ray players, or GPS systems.

That's not to suggest that economic troubles are the only reason. I find it highly plausible that increased spending on things like smart phones and tablets is crowding out some of the money people would have otherwise spent on other consumer electronics (just like the growth of the video game industry over the past decade has crowded out some spending on CDs, etc.). But I really dislike it when complex issues like "What is driving broad changes in how people are spending money?" is reduced to such a simplistic answer as "Tablets are taking over!"

brandon sheffield
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the point is that the service these things provide is replaced by one device: the smartphone.

Adam Bishop
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You know people who've replaced their home theatres with smartphones?

Ian Uniacke
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This sounds like a "Best Of..." poorly thought out arguments from the history of the games industry.

To say that console will be beaten by mobile is to misunderstand the definition of console. Dedicated hardware will ALWAYS have novelty appeal because you are paying a small amount of money pushed in ONE specific direction to see how far we can take technology on that one "gimmick". To use a cogent example, Apple "could" add a 3d screen to the iPod but that would push the iPod to a price of (lets say) 350$. Nintendo on the other hand built a device which is basically the expensive 3d screen with some cheap peripheral hardware. Dedicated hardware will always compete on price and extent of the hardware, but be less attractive with all the other features (eg 3ds' camera). Markets will always have general purpose as well as dedicated niche products. I don't see this changing suddenly because a general purpose device (eg iPhone) has been really successful, just like I didn't see people stop buying phone's when a dedicated device (eg Wii) was really successful.

Joe McGinn
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Interesting arguments and points raised by Cousins. Don't agree with all of it but as always it's well argued and researched. He's spot-on about some things, like freemium quickly becoming the dominant source of gaming revenue in all world regions.

Luis Guimaraes
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Same thing people said before about the arcades...

Joe McGinn
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... and they were right yes? Or is there a still a thriving video game arcade in your neighbourhood?

Stewart Trezise
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Doesn't he seem a little narrow-minded? Sure the mobile market may be the big money-maker at the moment, but it's definitely not the next natural evolution for the gaming industry. Thousands of small companies can earn good money cloning simple games, sure, but the console (and PC for that matter) is the product of decades of natural selection, refining it to become what we as gamers know and love.

I'll admit, I'm more of a PC gamer, but a grease-covered touch screen will never give me the same level of enjoyment that an XBox or PS3 will, in the comfort of my living room on my nice big TV. Just imagine trying to satisfy the teaming hordes of FPS fanatics with anything less!

David Phan
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In the spirit of predictions for the industry, here are mine for the next 5-10 months

1. Zynga executives will begin jump ship to GREE & DeNA
2. SWOTOR will go freemium/pay-2-win
3. Tencent will follow GREE & DeNA's path into North America via acquisitions
4. A "Capcom Spouse" will join the fray w/ an industry horror story
5. Apple will dramatically improve app discovery and the way it handles app rankings (ok this one is wishful thinking)

Lex Allen
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Sorry, but the browser is the future. Mobile will not kill the PC browser. He's just dead wrong.

Jakub Majewski
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Reading the comments here, I think that you guys need to give some thought as to what motivations can hide behind self-serving predictions.

Obviously, Ben Cousins' predictions are self-serving, in that he is predicting that the the branch of the business he's invested his last few years into (and not just at Ngmoco - we're talking Battlefield Heroes at EA, too) will be successful. This is self-serving, in the sense that it's encouraging for investors whose money he needs.

But there is another side to this. Ben Cousins has, for quite a long time now, been putting his money where his mouth is. He virtually pioneered the idea of AAA free-to-play games at EA, and then, in the wake of that success, he went off to set up a company that would concentrate entirely on this kind of business. And that's what makes his predictions worth listening to. Yes, he is advertising his business. But he genuinely believes in what he's saying, and he's invested several years of his career, as well as tons of money, into proving this.

It's like with Dave Perry and streaming games. I don't recall Dave Perry saying anything about how streaming would kill the console - but he wouldn't be out of place casting such a prediction, and in any case, he certainly has been open about his belief that streaming will revolutionise gaming. And of course, everyone would think, "well, geeze, this guy runs GaiKai, so of course he'd say that". But would Dave Perry be running GaiKai if he didn't genuinely believe this? And Dave Perry's a pretty darned smart guy - and repeatedly successful. He's worth listening to.

In the same way, Ben Cousins is also worth listening to. Because he very clearly believes what he's saying.

TC Weidner
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Proving what? no one is saying mobile gaming or freemium playing isnt a viable alternative. We are saying they will not kill the console nor PC gaming biz.

Consoles have a timing problem, not a mobile phone problem. Timing in so much as the new gen is due to come out about the same time a world recession/depression may be taking hold.

and as far as listening to someone just because he believes something, that makes little sense to me. Do many people go about talking about and pushing things they dont believe in?

matt klinck
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essentially a response to this article lol http://www.edge-online.com/news/dice-mobile-gaming-no-threat-cons
oles

Matt Ployhar
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It's always fun to speculate on stuff like this though .. isn't it?

I have a slightly different take on the future:
1) If 'Convergence' of the past is any indication of the future. Then you have to logically assume that A) Either Consoles are going to die or B) Consoles are going to have to Evolve.
2) The PC (Personal Computer) is something I'm sure we can all argue about the definition on till the end of the world. However; it's core principle is that it's something... "Personal" to you. The Hardware Platforms themselves also continue to morph to fit our lives & needs. (Example: Desktop to Laptop & everything else in between)
3) TVs ... and the glorified-dongled-on-the-side-Console-DVRs are prime candidates for Convergence ... aren't they? We're already starting to see the tip of that Iceberg.
4) Mobile Smart Phones. Now here's an interesting one. I look at the specs of my iPhone 4. Arguably better on paper & in some ways more capable than the Micron P266 I bought back around ~14 yrs ago. It's pretty safe to assume that SmartPhone: Processors, Drive Capacity, I/O will improve exponentially as well over the next ~5-10 years isn't it?
5) Other very interesting things are taking place at companies like Microsoft - which recently announced the same code base/stack being able to light up here pretty soon across ALL Platforms/Devices. The signficance here is that Game Devs can write an App once & then have it light up across pretty much any screen you want. Won't happen overnight... but that's the direction we're all heading if they're able to deliver.
6) Look at the Game Engines themselves. They're increasinginly also moving in the same direction as the 5th pt I just made. Sweeney's article here helps to collaborate some of that: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/173072/Epics_Sweeney_Platform_
convergence_freemium_the_inevitable_future.php

So this begs the question.... what really is a PC? Console? SmartPhone? Tablet-PC/iPad SmartTV at the end of the day other than a bunch of Transistors & Pixels? When Devices can all talk to each other.. the real winner is the one that is able to deliver the best experience to you & me with the least amount of hassles. Proprietary (Consoles) & other devices tend to lose their luster the closer the industry gets to that longer term vision.

Ben's prediction of the future - his keynote - might be a little closer than most people give him credit for.

Bob Allen
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Let's see. In the last week we've had an article from about a guy who runs a free-to-play MMO predicting that all MMOs will be free-to-play (eventually).
Now we have a guy whose whole business model (his very financial livelihood) is mobile and cloud gaming predicting that consoles will be dead soon.
If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

wes bogdan
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Well myself i could see future "consoles" being as small as a roku 2 which would connect us to sony,ms and nintendo portals where all the games reside -think netflix + psn/xblm/nn so we could access games of yore like netflix and if we wanted to buy something the digital store's right there.

By 2022 our roku sized puck might have a 5-7+" touchscreen and using a usb 3.0+ cable to charge the gamepad the way ps3 pads are similarlly charged now wouldn't be out of the question but myself i prefer deeper games like zelda over angry birds though ab kills lines fast that's it's real purpose not taking on zelda.

As for freeminum i'd hate to see my game series changed where helth packs,dungon keys ,pso rare items weapons or ammo for weapons either mag's or energy cells are in games but can be bought with real money as they're now on a timer and if your lucky enough to get some good swag you must now wait 3,5,12 hours before it appears in game again!!

Heck even rainbow moon let's you spend around $11 and gives you lots of cash and much more upgrades (pearls) and me3 also gives you the opertunity to simply buy as in game funds are slower and there's no importing your me2 or simply me3 single player arsinal.

If it's .25 a mag,health pack and more for weapons,upgrades or gear forget that i'd rather finish the backlog i have than EVER jump through those hoops in every single game though i have played me3 and rainbow moon it's not down to real money for everything and i mean everything which i'd consider a worst case senerio.

wes bogdan
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Here's another example fall of cybertron you could unlock more robot parts as you play but to equip/use them costs real money or darksiders 2 as you unlock skills again to equip costs real money or same deal in borderlands 2.

That would rub me the wrong way like you know we blocked certain content out so you must pay for content already in your possesion.

I have no problem adding extended gameplay in the form of new maps,missions or the like but i feel doubble diped on buying characters simply because capcom locked them and unlocking costs money.

Talk about wierd in years past capcom would try and make the best game possible before shipping not after $59 how much more can we get from them out of this release.


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