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Activision CEO doubts the future of game consoles

The game console business is reaching a point of uncertainty even though the video game industry continue to thrive as a whole.  Nintendo’s recently launched Wii U console has struggled to hit consumers with ferocity, and, according to an Activision CEO, the Xbox SevenFinity and PlayStation 4 will, too, struggle as video game consumption switches to mobile platforms.

“There are still many unknown factors such as pricing, launch dates and quantities, the level of first party support and, importantly, consumer purchase intent in a world where consoles are no longer competing with each other, but with new platforms, such as smartphones and tablets,” said ‘Bobby’ Kotick, Activision’s CEO. 

While it’s obvious that both the next Xbox and PlayStation will boast way more horsepower than the Wii U, the question of whether or not consumers will readily jump on the latest consoles is still unanswered.  Mobile seems like it’s at the tip of everyone’s tongue these days, so we’re not surprised by Kotick’s comment. 

Therefore, if the studios themselves become less and less inclined to pour resources into developing titles for the consoles, what’s left for the console makers besides dumping the console model to invest in something else?

Kotick may have a point in that consoles have to compete with a much more diversified gaming hardware market, but he also neglected to point out that console makers aren’t merely selling consoles anymore.  Rather, both Sony and Microsoft will redress their consoles as entertainment hubs.  Sure, you can buy a game and load it up, but there are also social networking features, VoDs, and ‘Steam-like’ functionalities which will allow you to purchase games directly.  The current-gen Xbox 360 and PS3 have these features, but as far as usability go they don’t compare to the same features that run on more modernized platforms.

The whole game hardware market has been blown wide open, and Sony and Microsoft are betting on AIO entertainment systems to carry on the console meme.  It will be interesting to see what real innovations will come out of the next Xbox and PS4.

Both the next Xbox and PS4 are expected to drop right before the holiday season.  Game on.

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