Neither Dead nor Dying: Game Consoles are Here to Stay
Before we talk about gaming, let's all take a moment of silence for the passing of video game pioneer Ralph Baer on December 6. Without his contributions (most notably, the classic Brown Box; go Google it, youngsters), the gaming world will never be the same. May he rest in peace.
And now, let's discuss games.
The "experts" start blaring the alarms whenever a new console hits the market. They did it with the PlayStation 2 and the Xbox, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360, and most recently, the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. In one of the predictions, an analyst claimed that consoles will be irrelevant in a decade's time.
It seems as though these tech "experts" can't wait for the game console to make its exit. Only this won't happen. There's just no way the gaming community would let the beloved console fade away.
Contrary to expert opinion (whether or not it's the popular opinion is arguable), gaming consoles continue to enjoy strong demand.
Industry reports show that as of November 2014, Sony has sold over 16 million PS4s around the world - and it hasn't been a full year yet. Also, let's not forget how - in the US alone - over a million PS4 units flew off the shelves on its debut.
Microsoft's Xbox One is behind at 9 million units sold. Maybe it would've gotten more sales if not for its focus on non-game features, but the platform still has a sizable audience.
Meanwhile, Nintendo slightly misses the 8 million mark. Well, to be honest, Wii U was a swing and a miss. But hey, 8 million is no small number. Moreover, the 3DS continues to rack up some pretty good sales, thanks in no small part to Pokemon and other handheld classics.
Even the sales of game titles prove that the console is alive and well; case in point: GTA V. The fifth Grand Theft Auto game is now the UK's best-selling game of all time. It also made $1 billion within its first three days of release and broke seven world records due to its massive sales record. And really, GTA V is just one title.
Now, some might argue that the market share of consoles in general has been on a decline. Even so, consoles still accounted for 30% of the share in 2013. The PC continues to take the lead, and the experts see mobile as the up-and-coming platform of choice.
But what many leave out in this statistic is the growth that has happened in the gaming industry per se. Although the share has declined, the industry as a whole grew by billions in overall profit. This offsets the so-called "decline" experts keep touting as evidence of the platform's alleged death.
"Experts" suggest that the final blow against consoles is the rise of mobile gaming. This, however, is a misconception. Although mobile platforms are highly popular, it has carved its own different niche, far from what console gaming offers.
Consoles have more raw power. There's just no way that a tablet could match the frame rate, the resolution, and the processing power of a dedicated console. It's like the introduction of laptops back in the PC's heyday: it's a new portable platform, but it's not as powerful as its predecessor.
What's truly happening is that the gaming community continues to diversify. Ten years ago, it was just the PC gamers and the console gamers. Now, mobile and casual gamers have grown in number - and that's a good thing. No matter how elitist some people might be, the mobile market is still an important part of the gaming community.
Mobile is not the doom of the console; rather, it's the (relatively) new kid on the block that's about to make the gaming world even more interesting.
But the console world is not without challenges. In fact, tech giants Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft cannot be complacent during such a pivotal moment in gaming. With PC's dominance and mobile's rise, console makers must push creativity to new bounds.
Fortunately, the companies' efforts in innovating the field are evident. The advancements in the controllers, the debut of cloud platforms, and the new features that appear on consoles are proof of the innovation companies are pushing forward. Hopefully, console makers stick to this mindset and continue to deliver game-changing innovations for everyone.
Experts say a crash similar to the 1983 incident might happen again, but that's implausible. What's likely to happen is the ascension of console gaming to a whole new level - and that's something every true gamer would want to witness and become part of.