We talk a lot around here about how the current AAA or Die model cannot sustain itself long term. A few company execs have hinted as much of late but Ben Cousins, the general manager of Ngmoco and formerly of EA DICE, Sony, and Lionhead, has come right out and said it at a Keynote at GDC Taipei.
Mobile gaming is going to kill consoles. Forever.
These are all flowery predictions but Cousins really believes it. He’s been a strong advocate of the Freemium models and when he says stuff like this it does give one pause.
“There’s a potential for mobile gaming to kill console gaming,” he began. “I’m talking about a significant reduction of market share with no chance of return. There are two ways this can happen — either people can move from consoles to a new device, or the market can expand without you. An example of the latter might be the social game space, which as exploded beyond the reach of traditional consoles. Already in Japan, just two social and mobile game companies, Gree and DeNA, generate more money than the entirety of the console software industry.”
You can call this the words from a guy with an ax to grind or one who is now working for a company, Ngmoco, that lives in the Mobile space, but those details are accurate. Gree has turned into a freaking monster.
“I believe that sometime during the next console generation, globally, both the revenue and the market share for games will be larger in mobile than it is for console. I believe Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo won’t produce dedicated hardware past the next generation. … Further, I believe traditional game companies like EA will be purchased by existing digital companies, or close entirely.”
Again, this is all Nostradamus tinfoil hat stuff at this point but we are, right now, sitting in the middle of a crossroads in the gaming industry. Actually, it’s not even a crossroad it’s more like an off ramp and if companies don’t take that ramp they’ll fall off the road.
So as the Big 3 gear up for new consoles that a lot of people don’t even feel that they need, you have to wonder what the gaming landscape is going to look like, say, five years from now and how this is going to affect the entire industry — from buyers to distributors to…even the media.