The CEO of live streaming service Twitch TV believes that the current generation of video games consoles will be the last to exhibit the traditional hardware release cycle.
The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were released seven and eight years after their predecessors respectively, something that Emmet Smear believes is out of touch with the rest of the technology landscape.
“The problem is, the seven-year upgrade lifecycle doesn’t work in the face of the two-year upgrade cycles for every other hardware platform,” he told the Guardian. “It’s so intrinsically built into how consoles get manufactured and made and the full business model, that I’d be surprised to see another generation.”
Shear instead envisions a future where consoles become general entertainment devices that can be easily upgraded, a transition that he says has already begun.
“They’re going to have to change form. You can already see this on both Xbox and PlayStation where there’s a tighter upgrade loop for both the operating systems and the games,” he added. “This is the first step toward being able to iterate the hardware platform. I could imagine a version 1.1 product from both Microsoft and Sony which adds in slightly more speed and slightly more memory very similar to how phones and tablets work today. I think it’s going to look more like the mobile phone market over time.”
The traditional console market has remained largely the same since its inception in the 1980s and has struggled to adapt to the advent of new technologies. Mobile gaming, in particular, poses a significant threat to current industry leaders, with Nintendo announcing a deal last week to release its franchises across smartphone devices.
Despite much talk surrounding the death of the traditional console industry, the numbers suggest that the market is in rude health. The PlayStation 4 had the largest console launch in history back in 2013, while last year, video games were the highest grossing entertainment medium in the UK, beating music and films.