Industry insiders have always had thoughts on how long consoles will keep going, and Ubisoft today have argued that the next generation of game consoles will be the last. The future of game consoles has been discussed before, and as technology is allowing us to stream to a multitude of devices including our smartphones through Steam, it is unclear how long people will be willing to dish out several hundred dollars on new machines every 5-6 years.
Speaking to Variety, Yves Guillemot (co-founder and CEO of Ubisoft) said he believes that game consoles only have one generation left. He argues that the next logical step is streaming to non-exclusive platforms. “I think we will see another generation, but there is a good chance we will see less and less hardware”, explains Guillemot. “With time, I think streaming will become more accessible to many players and make it not necessary to have big hardware at home”.
Indeed, strides have already been made on the streaming front. Recently launched in Japan was an entirely streamed edition of Resident Evil 7 for Nintendo Switch. PS Now allows users to stream a whole bunch of PlayStation games and you can now stream Steam games directly to your mobile via the Steam Link app. While all of these services require ownership of “big hardware”, the future certainly seems to be heading towards streaming in some form.
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“There will be one more console generation and then after that, we will be streaming, all of us”. More and more game developers are making use of cloud-based technology and streaming. “It is going to help the AAA game industry grow much faster… we have to work on the accessibility of those games, to make sure they can be played on any device, but the fact that we will be able to stream those games on mobile phones and television screens without a console is going to change a lot of the industry”.
While the technology isn’t quite ready to offer super slick game streaming services a la Netflix or Amazon Prime, Guillemot doesn’t think we are too far off. “There are quite a few people working on streaming, like Nvidia… so, we think it’s a trend and that it will continue to evolve. Eventually, the technology will improve dramatically, which will allow us to have a very smooth experience in the big cities of the world”.
The high-speed internet problem
Yves Guillemot raises a good question here. If streaming is the future for games, internet speeds have to increase vastly across the board. Today, many of us are bottlenecked in internet usage by providers, who grant a specified amount of usage per month. Would streaming games not take up huge amounts of this data and bandwidth? Generally speaking, too, those of us who are lucky enough to live in big cities struggle to get consistent speeds that allow us to stream Netflix at good speeds, or even to download small files.
While Guillemot’s prediction may sound somewhat likely, the tech simply is not in a good enough place and it won’t be in the foreseeable future. Games are played by billions across the world and for a good while yet, consoles seem the only way to go.