The man who set up and ran the European Xbox business for Microsoft, Sandy Duncan, believes that consoles as we know them today will “die out” in the next 5 to 10 years.
“The industry is fundamentally driven by technology. I think dedicated games devices i.e. consoles (and handhelds) will die [out] in the next 5 to 10 years. The business model is very risky and the costs associated with creating new hardware are incredibly high,” Duncan told That VideoGame Blog in an interview to be published tomorrow.
He continued, “There is a definite “convergence” of other devices such as set top boxes. There’s hardly any technology difference between some hard disc video recorders and an Xbox 360 for example. In fact in 5 to 10 years I don’t think you’ll have any box at all under your TV, most of this stuff will be “virtualized” as web services by your content provider.”
Duncan also believes that with the rapid rise of high-speed internet connections, and as game publishers are forced to adjust their business models, top publishers like EA may not be the same companies in 5 years time: “[Look] at how quickly Popcap or Oberon are growing, or look at what has happened to World of Warcraft in the last 3 to 4 years as so many more homes have easy access to decent broadband services. Maybe you’ll see YoYo Games competing with EA in 5 years… [and] why not ?”
“Tying this thinking together I think that the concept of “Cloud Computing” when applied to games, and to MMORGS in particular is potentially pretty mind-blowing. If you look at the number of nodes, cumulative raw compute power, total storage etc. of just the people playing on Xbox Live at any one time, combined with very high bandwidth connectivity and add to that potentially millions of people playing on their mobile devices added to the cloud… then I think it might be time for the Blue Pill/Red Pill discussion and I’ll jump out of my skin if someone calls me up and says “Hello Sandy, my name is Morpheus!””
Duncan was with Microsoft for over 15 years before moving on to found YoYo Games with Michel Cassius. Check back tomorrow for the full second part (read Part I here) of our interview with Duncan where he goes in-depth about EA’s attempts to acquire Take-Two, the recent mergers in general, the rise of casual gaming, and where he thinks the industry is headed.