EA Founder: Consoles Will Become Niche

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EA Founder: Consoles Will Become Niche

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Trip Hawkins compares hardcore gaming to owning a plane.

While game sales are down across the board, which is either down to an aging console generation or the implosion of the global economy depending on who you ask, the industry is still growing at a phenomenal rate. A series of reports from DFC Intelligence reckon the global market for games will grow from $67 billion in 2012 to $82 billion in 2017. Despite that growth, EA founder Trip Hawkins thinks the console dominated era may be drawing to a close.

"The console market is always going to be with us, because there's always going to be a hardcore segment, a segment that likes innovation," Hawkins said. "But it's going to become a smaller market, and it's going to be more like a hobby market."

Hawkins founded EA after leaving Apple in '82, which he then left to form 3DO in '91.

"You look at airplanes," he added. "Most of us just want to be a passenger, but there's a hobby market for people who are really into aviation and want to take flying lessons and maybe someday have their own airplane. I think that's what's happening to the console market."

Now, the word "hardcore" is fairly nebulous, and there's still debate as to whether casual games will erode the core gaming market or enhance it, but Hawkins does have a point. In 2008, consoles were the driving force of the industry, pulling in nearly twice the revenue of the PC game market. That lead is shrinking - console game sales wax and wane with hardware cycles, but the PC market has seen growth year over year. PC game revenue is expected to match, then beat, that of the console market in 2014.

The haughty PC gaming snob in me would love to imagine that's down to filthy console plebs developing a taste for dense, brutally difficult strategy games and high skill-ceiling shooters, but in reality, the rise of casual gaming has made a huge contribution to the platform's popularity.

"In the old days I'd go down to the basement to play Grand Theft Auto," Hawkins continued. "But the Facebook gamer is able to play at work, at home, in a hotel on a PC. They can get access to a browser just about anywhere. People are thinking about convenience first."

The question is: Are casual titles actively pulling users away from core gaming, or are they attracting completely new players?

Source: IGN

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Yes. Owning a 200 console will be like owning a 500,000-1,000,000 jet... It will be that rare.

I'd say the fate of consoles will largely depend on how they go about the next gen. If they manage to really pull off an "all-in-one" console like Sony attempted with the PS3, then they will increase in sales and every home will probably have one.

If they fail to do that, or simply keep with what they are like now, just with better hardware, then yes, they may die out a little, but I imagine there will still be a large market for them. Gaming has never really been as popular as it has this generation.

I always find this 'all or nothing' attitude gaming to be really weird. Both markets can and most likely will survive. It doesn't help when -

"In the old days I'd go down to the basement to play Grand Theft Auto," Hawkins continued. "But the Facebook gamer is able to play at work, at home, in a hotel on a PC. They can get access to a browser just about anywhere. People are thinking about convenience first."

- is a freaking terrible way of putting it. Out of 'work, home and a hotel' only one really applies to a large share of the market, which is the home. Not everyone has access to social games during work and very few people spend their time in hotels, and even fewer of them are gamers. The majority of people playing games are going to play them within their home and as such there will always be a market for those after hardcore experiences.

Plus, dude made the 3DO. I am not surprised he is vindictive towards the console market.

So people are just going to play farmerville?

The PC is dead, now the console is dead. Would someone make up their mind already.

...Is it just me or does that guy look like Arnold Schwarzenegger if he was playing Scaramanga from The Man With The Golden Gun?

Okay, that weird comparison aside, is it just me or is he saying "I think people who actually care about games as entertainment rather than a way to kill time are going to die out"?

Ickabod:
The PC is dead, now the console is dead. Would someone make up their mind already.

Makes sense that a number of the better games for the PC in recent years have all been about zombies...

Yes, it will become a niche, in the same way as traditional PC genres became a niche compared to consoles.

But that's not because they are shrinking, but because new, even bigger markets are growing around them.

The hardcore PC industry has as much money and audience in it, as in the 90's. It's just that now these same few hundred thousand gamers are called a niche compared to the more casual console masses, and 2D strategy and RPG games are now called "indie", even if they were AAA when Blizzard and Bioware made them.

The same will happen to consoles. There will be an even bigger Facebook market, and the tens of millions will appear to be a niche besides it, and facebook gamers will start gaaming communities, identify their lifestyle as "gamers", and get offended at "console elitists" claiming to be more true gamers than them.

Legion:
Yes. Owning a 200 console will be like owning a 500,000-1,000,000 jet... It will be that rare.

This was my very first thought. He compared two things that are completely incomparable.

OT: It's interesting how he reads this. Sure, people in the future are more likely to own a smartphone or such device than they are the next XBox or Playstation, that is undeniable. But the presence of these things and the capability to play casual games on the go doesn't mean they will. I own a PS3, a pretty powerful Android phone, a powerful Android tablet, and a bad ass gaming PC. The thing I used the most to play games goes in this order:

1. PC
2. PS3
3. Android Tablet
4. Phone.

Now, three and four are so far behind the other two it's not even funny. I use my phone to send text messages, call people (I know, it's crazy), GPS on the occasion I need it and on the fly web browsing which is rare. I play games on Android tablet about 50 times more often, but that number still pales into insignificance compared to the PS3, which doesn't even rate when compared to my PC gaming habits.

I know, I'm one man. And I am not indicative of any given population just because I part of certain populations. The thing is, as an "expert" in the field, he is more likely to get things wrong compared to random chances (most experts fall into this category). It's because they have access to lots of information, it gives the illusion of having a perfect knowledge of history which gives the illusion of accurate foresight.

My favorite bit is the whole PC gaming growth evidence that is given. In 2008, the consoles were the hottest thing out there because they were still new enough they were wowing gamers. But as with any console cycle; the tech is old, everything looks dated on it and platforms that have the ability to evolve have evolved. That means yearly new phones have gotten way more powerful as compared to 2008. Also, PC's are significantly more powerful than they were 2008 and in 2008 they were way more powerful than the consoles. This guys predictions are like a big joke.

Well, I spent way too much time and thought on this, so PEACE!

Farmville type games are not replacing anything. The experience of TV-controller-couch is not going anywhere. The actual platform may change, ie your PC connecting to your big flat screen and handling controller support. Casual/mobile gaming will never usurp that.

Micah Weil:
Makes sense that a number of the better games for the PC in recent years have all been about zombies...

Guild Wars 2? Planetside 2? Battlefield 3 (the console versions don't count)? Torchlight 2? Diablo 3? Starcraft 2? Sins of a Solar Empire? FTL? Kerbal Space Program? Tribes: Ascend? And these are just recent games. I barely tried and I could list a bunch.

I feel like we're missing a more important talking point here. The console and PC experiences are beginning to converge.

Consoles are "hardcore"? As a PC gamer, I would laugh at the karmic schadenfreude if not for the sneaking suspicion that a decade from now Angry Birds will be considered something that only old-school grognards could enjoy.

cidbahamut:
I feel like we're missing a more important talking point here. The console and PC experiences are beginning to converge.

No, they are not. Console-centric games are still based on the "arcade + cinematic eye-candy" paradigm, while PC games, (both traditiona hardcore and facebook casual) are based on the "tabletop game meets utility software" paradigm.

Why the hell does something have to infinitely beat something? The console wars was a stupid term made up by annoying pricks to make fun of consoles.

Can't Consoles/PC/Handhelds/iOS games all co-exist? Even the term "Hardcore" is overused as hell. Playing Call of Duty doesn't make you hardcore (Finishing Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne on hard your first playthrough, THAT'S FUCKING HARDCORE!)

Every few months for the last couple of decades, some idiot makes a variant of this claim (or the opposite). Somehow, neither PC gaming nor console gaming has died yet.

The guys an idiot.In the future consoles may evolve into a multi media device, but it will still be there. But no company will delete consoles unless they are loss making, but by then most people would have moved on to the next generation of tech.

I am a zombie and I find this entire thread offensive.

/pcmovement

FargoDog:

Plus, dude made the 3DO. I am not surprised he is vindictive towards the console market.

He's just pissed that his shitty console lost to the fucking Jaguar.

Yeah. That's all there is to this really. I'd like to add that I can play my DS at work but since my current job involves driving fork lift trucks in a very busy warehouse it may get me fired. Or dead.

If people didn't play games on facebook at work maybe the economy wouldn't be so shit because they'd be more fucking productive :O

Then again the rate of tax and cost of living is rising too much too fast, etc.

On topic, fuck this guy. I'd like to immediately point out that in the present he has fuck all to do with EA so you don't get free EA hate for this one, shame on you Escapist for even needing to put EA in the title of this article.

TizzytheTormentor:
Why the hell does something have to infinitely beat something? The console wars was a stupid term made up by annoying pricks to make fun of consoles.

Can't Consoles/PC/Handhelds/iOS games all co-exist? Even the term "Hardcore" is overused as hell. Playing Call of Duty doesn't make you hardcore (Finishing Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne on hard your first playthrough, THAT'S FUCKING HARDCORE!)

Beat Resident Evil 4, on professional, with only your survival knife, 4 first aid kits, 5 saves, a flash grenade, 3 magnum shots and 1 RPG (you need at least that much to get through, fucking Salazar and shit..). That is hardcore. (Done it, was a brutal experience, pro-tip: flee from the iron maidens, they will beat you in melee combat every time with hugging)

Beat Viewtiful Joe on hard without using powers when not VITAL for progression, also pretty hardcore. (Not done but it was rough enough without self-imposed rules).

Beat MegaMan 2 without taking damage. Beyond hardcore. (not done, not crazy enough, have done 9 and 10 without a death though)

=D

Personally? I don't know anyone who's a "casual gamer", plays many mobile games or anything like that. This market i've heard so much about always confuses me because I don't see the appeal or know anyone who does.

Oddly enough, my friends and I who were big console gamers are now shifting towards PC gaming.

Hardcore gaming isn't like that.

It isn't even limited by platform. I think real hardcore gamers are people that will play whatever they can in whatever way suits them best at the time. True hardcore gamers do their best to not limit themselves to one area of gaming; they play most genres and are above the system wars, as they are the type of gamer that dreams of owning every system, console, handheld, and PC alike.

At least, that is how I define myself as a hardcore gamer.

My systems:

NES
SNES
N64
A third party system that runs, NES, SNES, and Genesis games.(Retron 3)
Had a Gamecube, but I'm loaning it to a friend because I have a Wii that will play my gamecube games.
Wii
Original Gameboy
Two Gameboy Colors
Gameboy Advanced
Nintendo DS Lite
PSP
Xbox 360
And a PC that right now runs just lower end games and MMOs.

If I had the money, there would be a lot more on that list, especially a better PC. Granted that list is so long because I'm 27 and have been into gaming since I was at least 4(remembering that far back is hazy for me).

Edit: An original PS2 would be on that list, but back in the day it was actually my brother's, and my Mom convinced him to sell it to one of her friends, because we didn't "play it enough" to warrant having it. My saying that I played it once or twice a week wasn't enough to stop it happening, because of course it was my brother's and since he really only used it for watching DVDs, he sold it. We only had Tekken Tag Tournament for it, but I really did play the game to death on the days I did play it.

SonOfVoorhees:
The guys an idiot.In the future consoles may evolve into a multi media device, but it will still be there. But no company will delete consoles unless they are loss making, but by then most people would have moved on to the next generation of tech.

A multi media device that wont play games anymore.

Developers are getting sick of the fees and development costs Sony and Microsoft level against developers. They make the content creators pay for the flawed business practices of the higher ups.

If consoles don't have a radical change, developers will just leave consoles and go casual and PC gaming. Markets where the barrier of entry are low, and the development costs are lower.

Consoles are a money pit for everyone involved. They only came in since computers were expensive, but now everyone owns a computer. They were cheaper, yes, but that never lasts when you are trying to compete with more complicated tech.

yo pc gamers.... if I build a gaming PC for like 500 now (shopping around for parts-not in a hurry)..will it become obsolete quickly/need upgrading 6months into the next console cycle?

Is the optimum time (price wise) build a PC linked to the console cycle?

craddoke:
Consoles are "hardcore"? As a PC gamer, I would laugh at the karmic schadenfreude if not for the sneaking suspicion that a decade from now Angry Birds will be considered something that only old-school grognards could enjoy.

Indeed. Unless you have a dedicated driving seat or a full HOTAS setup you are a casual gamer...and that's Ok. The only true hardcore are simmers...and maybe those that value battlefield logistics over strategy.

IronMit:
yo pc gamers.... if I build a gaming PC for like 500 now (shopping around for parts-not in a hurry)..will it become obsolete quickly/need upgrading 6months into the next console cycle?

Is the optimum time (price wise) build a PC linked to the console cycle?

Possibly, but the best time to build a PC is whenever you have the money. Just don't buy a GPU until a few months after it has released, the price on those drops dramatically. I think my Dad paid a couple of thousand dollars for our first basic 386 IBM compatible, just so my brother and I could learn DOS. Except for the GPUs my latest PC cost about $600 and it is a mild beast. PCs just get cheaper and cheaper, even the gaming OS is finally dropping in price.

There can't just be a rough patch in terms of sales. All of this has to be leading up to some bigger thing?

At any rate, I don't see consoles going away or becoming a more niche, too many people have much money involved for that to happen. No, consoles are most likely going to go the way of phones and TVs and tables and toasters... machines that will do everything, basically.

Microsoft certainly seems poised to go for that angle, Sony will probably do it to.

I don't mind having machines that only do one thing, in fact I prefer it, it generally means that the one thing they do is done very well or there are less ways for a machine to catastrophically break down, but I'm in the minority on this opinion.

SkarKrow:

Beat MegaMan 2 without taking damage. Beyond hardcore. (not done, not crazy enough, have done 9 and 10 without a death though)

=D

Did that when I was 12. Noooooo problem.

On a more serious note, the only definition of hardcore I accept is if gaming (regardless of the game/platform etc) is your primary hobby.

As for what he's saying it has some merit but not because he knows what he's talking about. The stagnation isn't even that it is the end of the consoles life cycle. The issue stems from the fact that the industries have streamlined their monetization of its products and people are fed up with it. Thus, the gamers are finding other ways to enjoy their entertainment.

The only other reason it would be niche is because there is only one video game console left: The Wii. The other two seem more interested in becoming multimedia platforms and putting gaming on a backburner.

So , EA founder says this so PC gamers will like him . Smart move , because mobs are stupid .

This is the cataclysmic retard that created EA. And the 3DO. I'd rather trust my own excrement in interperating the future than this moron.

Now, the word "hardcore" is fairly nebulous, and there's still debate as to whether casual games will erode the core gaming market or enhance it, but Hawkins does have a point. In 2008, consoles were the driving force of the industry, pulling in nearly twice the revenue of the PC game market. That lead is shrinking - console game sales wax and wane with hardware cycles, but the PC market has seen growth year over year. PC game revenue is expected to match, then beat, that of the console market in 2014.

Does no one understand the whole point of "We need the next generation of consoles to come out NOW!"

Of course their market is shrinking and loosing out to PC games, because if games are made for them the developers end up getting limited by their crap user specs, whereas PCs can handle loads more content, calculations, better internet connectivity etc.

If you look at the Dreamcast's game sales they've never been worse. Does that mean that all consoles are dead? No, it means there are better games being made for more powerful alternative machines.

Hordes of developers have ended up announcing they were coming back to focus on PC releases in the past year or two, (some with their tails between their legs) because the consoles were to restricting on their game designs. Would these people have done that if there was a more powerful console to create games for? No.

What's killing console game sales are the outdated tech. Release the PS4, the Xbox Loop, the Wiiwhatever and sales will rocket back up to perfectly viable and profitable levels.

krazykidd:
So , EA founder says this so PC gamers will like him . Smart move , because mobs are stupid .

After what they did to Command and Conquer, there will be no forgiveness...much less liking.

Geo Da Sponge:
...Is it just me or does that guy look like Arnold Schwarzenegger if he was playing Scaramanga from The Man With The Golden Gun?

Okay, that weird comparison aside, is it just me or is he saying "I think people who actually care about games as entertainment rather than a way to kill time are going to die out"?

Looks more like the doctor from Human Centipede to me. I'm not sure who should feel ashamed for looking like the other.

As for his prediction I seriously doubt it - The NES/Sega era wasn't an avalanche of hardcore RTS tit-massaging flight simulators with cover-based shooting and people having been through the Nintendo experience didn't exclude them from trying out other games.

Micah Weil:

Ickabod:
The PC is dead, now the console is dead. Would someone make up their mind already.

Makes sense that a number of the better games for the PC in recent years have all been about zombies...

LOL, Wut? I can only count about 5 or 6 in the last few years about zombies for the pc. Or any Console for that matter. Zombies make cameo's but they are hardly the focus of gaming lately. They might be an unlockable mode or perhaps an easter egg cheat.

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