Is the "Console" Concept Dead?
I've actually felt for a LONG time that consoles as anything Generation-X would classify as such are an obsolete concept. It's not that hardware is dead, but consoles are dead. Technically speaking the current XBox and Playstation are consoles, but are they really? They're both x86 boxes with PC-derived graphics hardware are they not? Plus, most games are built using authoring environments like Unreal or Unity, which can often compile be directly ported out to different platforms. Nintendo has effectively ceded the AAA market in favor of mobile-ish hardware. So that's kinda where we are now. AAA console games are basically just PC games for very specific hardware. They're network enabled and they have local storage just like PCs. And mobile is, well, smart-phone games.
So...we're kinda done here, right? If there ever is a PS5 or an XBox-n it will just continue to be the equivalent of Valve's Steambox. Just take a snapshot of what's state of the art in x86 and ram it into a console, done and done. On mobile you've got your usual system on a chip ARM stuff. Done and done.
I guess the reason I'm thinking about this is because of the Ataribox thing...
I think, mentally, us Generation-X still sort of fetishize the IDEA of a console, a proprietary device that used to play ROM cartridges, something that you had to write 100% custom code to drive, had custom ICs in it, etc.... I just think that ship sailed a looooong time ago.
I just find it sad that whatever comprises the corporate entity known as Atari is continuing to try to revive something that is in any way shape or form a "console" the way we used to think of them, when everyone knows under that pretty case it will be nothing more than stock hardware of the sort that's already in cell phones, tablets, and set-top boxes.
The only thing that matters now...is software. Platform isn't as important as software, and software (if it's AAA) is EXPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENSIVE!
Grand Theft Auto V supposedly costs 137 million dollars.
Destiny? Over 140.
When gamers think of what a "relevant" game is, they think of these things, the blockbusters. Little classic game style things, little flappy bird things, they're a whole other niche.
So if you own the Atari name, and you know making a game that "matters" costs over 100 million dollars, what are you to do?
Well, apparently, you don't have a lot of options, hence Sega is withering away, and Nintendo is becoming a retro brand, and Atari probably can't hope to make much money other than cheap merch and the continued licensing of its properties for use in emulators ad nauseum.
I guess this is why I don't really play games much at all anymore. The idea of what a game is even has changed to the point where I don't even recognize it. The last game I put any time into was Star Trek Online. I do have a soft spot for MMORPGs but they are too big of a time-sink for me and I don't like all of the instancing that breaks the immersion.
But I was just kind of thinking of this whole thing, 20 years from when I did my documentary on Atari, and where I could have seen all this going. I guess it hasn't turned out THAT different from my predictions. Even back then people were starting to hook up keyboards and ethernet jacks to things like Sega Saturns.
Back then I was working for a startup company that was all about "digital convergence". And I guess this is what that world looks like.
- Rhindle the Dragon likes this