Are Home Consoles On Their Way To Becoming Obsolete
The video game industry, like most successful industries, is prone to change. Look at its history and you can see them. One of the biggest and most innovative ideas was the home console. They have risen to dominate the market place in the past three decades; but with the rise of indie gaming, are they as necessary as the once were? Has the industry, as we have come to know it, began to leave the console market behind?
Home consoles aren’t the necessity they once were
Since the arrival of the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Master System, gaming consoles have steadily improved in power. Each new generation is more powerful than its predecessor. The current generation has even seen a mid-generation update in which more powerful versions of the same console have come to market.
The fact is, once you purchase a console, the clock starts ticking. It’s only a matter of time before new hardware is announced and released. Once this happens, people are encouraged to upgrade and repeat the cycle all over again. This will probably continue until home consoles cease to exist. There is a flaw in the current generation that is quite apparent, but many have overlooked. Home consoles, as a whole, have become a somewhat useless purchase.
Paying for Power…Why?
Gone are the days where owning a home console was the main way to get a gaming fix. Many titles that are released on consoles today are also released on the PC. The only real exception to this are first party exclusives, but even some of these have exceptions. The rise of indie gaming, however, is further pushing consoles towards extinction. This is because they are everywhere.
Think about it. Indie games are released on PC, consoles and even on mobile devices. Most of the games in this genre don’t require power like AAA titles, yet still offer a fun and full game experience. Consoles like the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro weren’t designed with titles like these in mind. Instead, they were created for AAA blockbuster titles that require players to pay for more content in addition to the price of the game itself. The flaw with this is that many of these titles run better on a PC than they do on consoles.
Arguments can also be made that PC’s have a longer shelf life, too. This is because it’s affordable and easy to upgrade a PC’s components. Most consoles, by comparison, are designed to do more than play games on as well, leading to increased manufacturing costs. To make things worse, most of these costs aren’t recouped in purchasing new hardware, as console companies make more from game sales than they do the consoles themselves. Hardware that is on the market longer is easier to turn a profit, which is why PC gaming has an advantage. The longer hardware is on the market, the cheaper it becomes to produce. This is why PC upgrades like RAM and graphics cards is such a lucrative business.
To further things, many titles from previous console generations also appear for a reduced price in the online stores of the current one. Here PC’s have a huge advantage, as clients like Steam aren’t restricted to modern hardware. PC’s games big and small frequently add patches and updates to help the games run smoothly with new operating systems and hardware.
The Model is Changing
Traditionally, players purchased games from the store to play on the system they have, and while that is still a common practice for many gamers, the industry is shifting. Games are now accessible through online stores on the consoles, and this isn’t exclusive to bigger titles. Digital distribution has caused indie gaming to surge, and not only to they cost a fraction of the price of blockbuster titles, they also take up less space on your hard drives.
This isn’t the only big change that has occurred, as free-to-play games have also become more commonplace. While titles like these were once looked on with disdain by the gaming community, that is no longer the case. Many free-to-play titles today are overwhelmingly successful. Mainstay titles like League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone have altered the perception of the quality of free-to-play titles. Even the popular title, Fortnite, has a free-to-play option. While titles like these still make money for the developers, they aren’t following the same methods as previous generations.
Can you imagine a day when we will have a free-to-play Zelda, God of War or Call of Duty title? I’m not saying it can’t or won’t happen, but it’s still hard to picture. Most likely similar titles will emerge bearing the franchise name on smart devices to drive installs.
To Make It Simple
The more the industry changes, the less important home consoles become. The driving force behind them today are exclusives, many of which are updates of the same games year after year. As such, they are no longer the necessity that they once were.
Depending on the types of games you play, you may not need a home console at all, and they are more of a preference than a necessity. The industry is evolving with little to no warning, and somewhere along the line, home consoles have lost their stranglehold on the market. Should this continue, consoles will have to drastically adapt, or risk being left behind altogether.
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