A game industry insider predicts a box that handles all your on-screen entertainment, and, hey, it also plays games.
I use my Xbox 360 and PS3 for way more than just playing games. Ever since the PS2 gained dominance for being a relatively cheap alternative to a DVD player, the extensive video and audio capabilities of the game console has delivered more entertainment than just games. Gene Hoffman is the CEO of electronic fund collection company Vindicia, and works with MMO companies like Cryptic and Blizzard as well as non-gaming entities like Boxee, the NBA and NASCAR to basically part customers with their money. Hoffman is at the forefront of seeing what works and what doesn't in the entertainment business, like saying MMO companies that don't launch enough content are forced to go free-to-play. He predicts that eventually we won't have distinct "gaming consoles" but components that handle all of of our entertainment.
At the Consumer Electronics Show this winter, Hoffman said that consoles were dead. "I think consoles qua consoles are in trouble," said Hoffman. "I don't think we have more than a single generation of game consoles ahead."
"It's not called a game console, it just plays games too," Hoffman told me later and he further predicts it will be the user interface that sets us free. "The Siri 4S effect and then the rumored Apple TV, Kinect getting real instead of being a cool CES demo previously. All of a sudden I just think you see all of this right in the living room and be adopted by a broad range of gamers, it's not core gaming anymore.
"That's the transition we're going through, I think what we're seeing is being a gamer is not being somebody special," he said.
Hoffman further proved his point by telling a story about his daughter to show how quickly the younger generations adapt to new technology. "I've got a five year old and a nine year old," he said. "We went to a place up in the country here in California and she walked up to this 1970's television set in this rental house and tried to swipe it like an iPad. It just tells you what that UI's are going to look like."