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The End of The Console Wars (If They Ever Existed)

December 6, 2012

Very good read on the myth and reality of the console wars...

However, dedicated games hardware is no longer the core revenue generator for games, and hasn’t been since World of Warcraft showed just how much more money games-as-service could rake in. The home consoles are still very much profitable – but it strains the imagination to suggest they compete in isolation from all the other ways people can now play games. What distinguished the home consoles more than anything was the fact they were played on the household TV. But this venerable device is no longer the de facto entertainment hub, since a tablet or laptop – hell, even a cellphone – is just as capable of delivering the media the TV always used to have a corner on. TV sales are falling, only by about 8% at the moment, but there is already a sense that the domination of the TV as an entertainment device has been challenged at the very least.

What threatens the TV is the same thing that threatens the games consoles and, for that matter, the ebook reader: the tablet computer. More specifically, Apple’s all conquering iPad tablet. You only have to look at the design of the new Wii U to know who Nintendo view as their biggest rival: Apple are hurting Nintendo most in the mobile space, but make no mistake, when the mass market for games can get their play on a device they already own, expect dedicated device sales to suffer. To give this story some key numbers, Nintendo’s Wii – putatively the winner of the last round of the Console Wars – sold 97 million units over 6 years. Apple’s iPad has sold 84 million units in just 2.5 years, and about three quarters of those people use their iPad to play games. Need more evidence that this is an issue? Even though many iPad owners also own an ebook reader, they tend to read books on their iPad. When you’re already using one device for so much, you just don’t need dedicated equipment as much.

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