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22nd of July 2018

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Ubisoft CEO Predicts End of Games Consoles

Ubisoft Logo 2018

The role of online in gaming has grown significantly over the past two generations of games consoles. With the PS3 and Xbox 360 we got digital stores, for the PS4 and Xbox One, those stores grew their libraries, allowed games to be streamed, and are becoming the more popular way of buying games. But what comes next? According to Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, the hardware is going to disappear.

In an interview with Variety, Guillemot predicts that the next generation of games consoles (PlayStation 5 and the next Xbox) will be the last. After that, we'll all be streaming the games we want to play.

He believes the need to have hardware at home will become unnecessary and instead we'll have access to games on all our devices thanks to streaming. By making that switch, he believes it will help the "AAA game industry" to grow much faster. That's because you won't be confined to playing them on a console, instead loading them up on your smartphone, tablet, or TV depending on where you are.

Guillemot acknowledges cloud services need to improve and become more accessible for this transition to happen, but that there are already quite a few companies either using the cloud for their games, or working to offer cloud services for new games. In other words, the infrastructure to support everyone streaming is coming online.

Ubisoft Games 2018

I have to disagree with Guillemot's prediction. You can make the data centers providing the streaming as robust as you like and the tools for developers as accessible as possible, but that won't fix the biggest bottleneck to game streaming: home internet speeds. The quality of the connection into homes varies greatly across every territory viewed as a core market for selling games. That includes the US, Europe, Japan, and developing markets of the world including China.

Without the guarantee that everyone who games today on a PS4 or Xbox One can enjoy a purely streamed experience, we will continue to see hardware releases. Services such as PlayStation Now will certainly grow, but won't be the only option. You also have to consider the fact quality is only going to increase, which puts even more demand on streaming and in turn the need for an even better connection to enjoy it. As for Nintendo, it relies on hardware sales leading to all those first-party game sales. Hardware launches will continue to be a feature, especially as Switch has been so successful.

I think what's more likely is we see console hardware get cheaper and more accessible. After PS5, 4K will be the norm as will HDR. We will likely see physical games disappear and replaced with downloads to very large hard drives. So the PlayStation 6 could end up being a small bump in spec, no disc drive, and a low price point. It won't be about streaming, it will be about storage.

What's your prediction for the games consoles that come after the PS5 and next Xbox? Or do you agree with Guillemot that we'll all be streaming?

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