Game consoles, physical game and movie media really dying?

Lately there has been a lot of talk in the media about disc formats for movies (i.e. Blu-ray) dying out soon in favor of downloadable/streaming content through the internet. There are even some claiming the same fates for our beloved game consoles and game software as well. With all this talk of such a convenient and magnificent near future, it’s hard not to think back as late as the 70’s and 80’s when a lot of visionary people used to say that by the year 2000 we would all be driving fully automated or flying cars. Sure, “flying” and fully automated cars sort of exist, as super expensive prototypes that we might see in popular science, but here we are in 2008 and not a single one sits in anyone’s driveway, not even for the rich.

It seems that all the recent press releases and interviews from industry representatives keep echoing a 5-10 year time frame before the various media formats start to really “die out.” A good amount of the public seems to think that these claims are just the wishful thinking of businessmen or even media propaganda to promote their own products while downplaying what is currently popular. Another portion of public opinion, what seems to be the minority, seems to agree with the idea of a “die out” coming soon.

It is no secret that in 10 years or less, when the next wave of game consoles are released, that there will likely be no difference between them and traditional PC’s. There are very few differences as it is right now between current gen consoles and PC’s. The main difference that will always remain is the fact that consoles will continue to be a unified hardware standard, which is exactly what game developers need in order to make the highest quality games and take full advantage of the current technology standard.

As it stands these days, buying a new $600 video card in an effort to run a single game like Crysis is a luxury many can’t afford, while most other games on the market will still run well on many video cards even two generations old. This is likely a big underlying reason why there also seems to be a rising number of reports of PC gamers jumping ship in favor of console versions of games. The technological leap between popular console games and the majority of popular PC games has shrunken tremendously, which must inevitably make a lot of gamers feel it is a waste of money to be forced to continuously upgrade their computers just so they can enjoy any game they want to play. On the side go ahead and throw in the whole economy issue affecting the world at this point and you now have a large number of gamers with even less willingness to toss money at computer upgrades.

Will problems such as the lack of widespread, worldwide high-speed internet infrastructure put a big dent in all these “die out” predictions? Will disc media formats, consoles, and any other sort of physical media we hold dear really die out in 5-10 years? Will the next consoles be victim to this die out, or will they in fact be the instruments of the die out for physical game and movie media? Do you buy any of this or is it all just industry propaganda?