Consoles: A Death in the Famicom [ ETERNAL LINKS ]

Cassette tapes, VHS, newspapers and drive-in movie theaters… All of these were once at the top of their game, but either advancements in technology or lack have interest have sent them on a voyage to obsoletion. In 1972 Magnavox released the Magnavox Odyssey, the first home video game console which could be connected to a TV. Forty-one years, and seven generations later, are consoles finally nearing the end of their journey?

We’re not here to discuss why one format or platform is superior to another. Let’s talk about how much longer video game consoles will be around for. Is this the final generation of video game consoles or do you think they will survive for generations to come? Maybe they will reinvent themselves? And why do you think what you do?

Let’s hear your opinion on the matter.


  • Haohmaru

    Consoles are easy to use and work with your television right out of the box. When it gets to the point that games can be streamed, you will always have a “console”. Be it some sort of set top box or perhaps even the TV itself. It’s like the DVD player, for many, streaming Netflix means they hardly use their DVD player anymore. But you still need a piece of hardware, Roku, Google TV etc. If anything, the PC market will end up moving in this direction as you will stream the same games to your PC. This is where the publishers really want to be and it’s starting with the XBox One. The next iteration of the Playstation will have moved in the same direction.

  • gothicsora

    Generally speaking the consoles aren’t on the declines as much as the PC gamers would like you think, The Smart phones aren’t going to replace the portable consoles, and we are getting machines that function only as internet boxes that are closer to consoles than they are PCs.

  • Well, what is a console anyway? A dedicated gaming device? “Plug in cartridge, turn on, play” <- We don't have this today, we lost it over three generations of PlayStations, when the first was able to play audio CDs, the second added DVD video, the third lots of other multimedia features and the internet, sure the two Xboxes did the same, no offense meant.

    So let's call it "closed multi purpose device with an emphasis on gaming", so according to Apple's latest top seller list, the iPad is a console, too. Most people use it primarily for gaming. There will be more Android-based "consoles" in the future. As long as there are people they want to play and as long as there's money to make from console gaming, companies will produce consoles, some powerful, some not; some with multimedia functionality, some with office and internet explorer pre-installed.

    I wouldn't worry.

    • Ben

      Android-based “consoles” in the future?

      How about in the present? The Ouya seems to be doing well.

  • When high-end videogame streaming arrives, we’ll play directly in our TVs and consoles will be no more.

  • PJbottoms

    If I wanted a media center pc, I would build myself a media center pc, not go out and buy an overpriced game console that is trying to be one and fails considerably.
    I’ve owned consoles since the days of atari and intellivision and I personally hate the direction “game consoles’ have gone and want them to go back to being exactly that. A console that plays games. NOT a wannabee media center pc.

  • Anonymous

    Of course consoles will EVENTUALLY go away.

    However, I think we are a ways off from that point. I would guess at LEAST 10 years, because most of the world needs faster and more reliable internet for that to happen.

  • Koro

    It saddens me that people are leaving Nintendo out of the console war debate. you want a gaming console that is only a gaming console? I believe that Nintendo has put most of their effort into exactly that. Sure, you can surf the net or go on Netflix/youtube, but that’s where it ends. Nintendo is all about playing games and having fun. If every person on the web that said “I just want a dedicated gaming device” went out and bought a Wii U, you would they would have their dedicated gaming device, and the developers would have to start focusing on the Wii U because Nintendo would hold the greatest market share again.

    • Vernon Parker

      It’s great that they are all about the games. It is pretty slick how they integrated all the other entertainment features as well. However, I am tired of playing Mario games. I am tired of assuming the role of Link and saving Zelda. I am not against simple and fun games minus gore, I however also want a visceral experience every now and again. While Nintendo games generally have a lot more polish than any other developer, they lack a certain appeal. Where is the game where Mario and his brother finally return to our reality and his mushroom kingdom friends tag along? Why has the Zelda series not come a lot further in the time stream than still needing the use of swords and shields? What is Nintendo doing to entice me to come back as they only release a handful of games per year and third parties have all but abandoned their system? As a company with a deep catalogue of games, where are they with the virtual console that was very robust on the Wii?

      • Trahern

        Rockstar Games presents….
        Grand Theft Auto Z: Mushroom Kingdom
        (exclusively on Wii U)

    • Ed

      The Wii U is based on technology that is already old. It may fall into the same generation as the Xbone and PS4 chronologically, but it’s got far more in common with the previous generation than it’s calendar year peers. It’s like that uncle who is only 6 months older than you. He’s your age, sure, but he isn’t your tier on the family tree. So there’s a fair point to leave the Wii U out of discussions just because it doesn’t fit into any comparisons. That disconnect between generations is also why a lot of developers and publishers are shying away from the console. The PS4 and Xbone are going to use a lot of the same hardware. This makes porting games from one console to the other fairly cheap. Trying to scale back games to work on the markedly less powerful Wii U (or ramping them up to still be worthwhile on the new generation) is both more difficult and costly. Nobody is willing to take that risk, so the Wii U is lagging behind to the point or irrelevance.

      As far as consoles going away, I don’t see that happening until we have Starfleet issue replicator in every home so more powerful PC components can be built on demand. Even if we get rid of disks altogether and you stream the game content into a RAM chip built into your TV, there will still be a set cluster of hardware that won’t change. It will be a console, just one that is integrated directly into your choice of display. The core concept of a console will never die off, though. It’s too tedious and expensive for the majority of gamers to continually rebuild and upgrade a PC.

  • Omnithea

    I want to play a videogame. Not take up a second job, either paying or building. Any PC gaming system which was deployable fast enough to satisfy the needs of the busy, the young, inexperienced, or the Luddite would come to resemble a console itself. If not in hardware, then in a software package. Ultimately I see a lot of various electronics; tablets, smartphones, consoles, laptops all sort of losing distinction.

  • Leosoul

    I think consoles, in the classic sense, died with the PS3 and XBox 360. These two device do way more than just play games, and while that isn’t necessarily a terrible idea, we already have devices that do what they’re doing. Nearly any graphics card that you buy these days has an HDMI out, and barring that they certainly have DVI, which is the same thing but with a different connector. As such, a PC can be plugged in to a TV and work in ‘HD’ with little problem. Add on the far greater availability of indie devs for the pc, free and shareware, and of course the most dreaded game killer known as emulators and you’ve got a device that, in my opinion, out performs any console.

    I really think the only thing consoles have going for them is their sticker price (which is starting to reach that of a low end PC/laptop anymore, barring the Wii U), the elitist PC gamer stigma (but then the consoles have the ‘8 year old saying things to make a sailor blush while playing a mature rated FPS’ symdrome) and their exclusive titles. If the Disgaea series was released on steam? I’d never have any desire for a Sony console. I can’t think of any Xbox exclusives I’m upset about, really. Halo is a good console FPS, but there are so many FPS on the market today that I really can’t justify that being the Xbox’s selling point.

    So in short, I think they’re largely on the way out. As long as they keep charging as much as a PC for half the features and no way to upgrade to keep with the times their days are numbered.

    I would like to ask that any rebuttals don’t use the “but some people can’t use a computer” argument. It’s 2013, if you can’t use a computer, you need to get with the times and learn how to use one.

    • Anonymous

      Consoles are also simpler. No need to worry about it having enough strength to run a game. Also, I’ve never had a console have problems with its own internal software (not the games themselves, I mean). Internal HARDWARE, on the other hand…

      Also, how high end of a computer are you talking about? If you mean building or modifying one, it’ll be a long time before everyone knows how to do that (if ever).

      • Leosoul

        Er, how high end? Not at all. I’m talking about the $300USD laptops that Tigerdirect and such have on sale every couple weeks. Seems like they’re usually i3 or i5’s, I can’t say for sure as I haven’t really had any interest in buying them, heh. They aren’t nearly as good as a custom build $3000 beast, but they’ll play a lot of stuff, even if you have to run it on low quality.

        Now, you say that you’ve never had problem with the consoles software, which I assume you mean the dashboard or whatever you’d like to call it. It’s logical that you shouldn’t have problems with it though- it’s an OS designed for a single set of hardware. It’d be like saying that you don’t have problems on your iPod though. If you DID have problems with the only OS designed for that 1 set of hardware, then the company is truly doing something wrong.

        I will concede that the older generations will likely never desire to learn the ins and outs of a computer, and that’s fine, but they should at the very least learn basic trouble shooting. It’d be like someone who buys a car but doesn’t know what the low gas light means otherwise. I may not be able to overhaul my transmission (and I would never try, I hate working on cars), but I do know when something is wrong and when I need to take it to someone who DOES know how to fix it.

        Though really, upgrading a computer is one of the easiest things you can do. Turn it off, put the new hardware in just about the only spot it will fit, turn it back on. Pop in CD- done. Of course you can argue that faulty hardware and drivers will be a problem, but that comes with the territory of having machines made from parts from multiple vendors, and will be something that computers will likely suffer from for the foreseeable future.

  • Vernon Parker

    As long as people will pay for simple plug and play gaming machines, they will sell. As much as everyone keeps saying this is the last generation, blah blah blah, you have to understand that in order for streaming and cloud gaming to take off, networks have to improve vastly. I mean to the point of virtually no lag ever and high speed available everywhere (with no bandwidth cap of course). I love my gaming PC that I built last year but it does not get anywhere near the hours of use that my PS3 or Xbox 360 does. There are a lot of PC games but I like most people have particular tastes. And unlike console gaming, PC gaming is limited to how long you can maintain the computer. Windows games used to work across generations of Windows but now with Windows being so very different than it used to be, legacy games are only available if your older computer still works. With a console, as long as it turns on and can connect to a TV, you can play the game. And consoles last a lot longer than PC’s.

  • The only tragedy of videogames is that you don’t play them anymore because it takes too long to start a game.

    “Loading screen”
    “Do you want to update your firmware (you have to or you won’t be able to play your game)”
    “install 4 gigs of the game on your console”
    “do you want to update the game”
    “do you want to update the game again because there is a new version after the new version”
    “searching for DLC to steal your money”
    “connection aborted, server are down”


    “put the cartrige in”


  • Russ

    I think in general console gaming is not going anywhere fast. there are always going to be some company that says i think we can do this and then putts out a “console” (that term seems to be changing every year).

    what i do think will change is who is turning them out. i dont see microsoft doing it forever. i would not be surprised if this is there last go at it. if nothing else their last as being under the main umbrella of microsoft. they seem to want to focus more on their core business these days. or should anyway.

    i can see sony and nintendo sticking it out for quite a long time but i dont know that they both would do it 3 or 4 generations (of people) from now.

    with as much press as indie developers are getting as software makers, i could see a start up company create a new console that eventually made it into the mainstream market. its not going to happen quickly but it could happen.

    i like to think that gaming is more then just console or PC and that in order for gaming to stay alive and vibrant things will have to change on both platforms. we are long past the age of singular gaming device and i think we are nearing the end of the road for some of the bigger game console makers.

  • Triaxx2

    I think consoles will be fine, since we’ve been on the ‘last generation’ of consoles for three generations now.

  • Sky Render

    I don’t really think consoles are dying out so much as the long-dominant console gaming generation is getting into their late adulthood and simply moving away from gaming in general. Those who started with the first generation of systems are in their 40s now, and the NES generation is in its 30s. A lot of us are raising families now, holding down jobs, and just generally lack the time for gaming the way we used to. We may not like to admit it, but the crowd of younger gamers who were drawn in by the Wii this last generation and the ones who have followed through to this generation are basically our successors. Just like we NES kids were for the 16-bit gaming PC crowd with the NES and SNES.

    I’m happy to hand over the reigns and retire into PC gaming, with my Kerbal Space Program and my Steam and my classic gaming. Good luck, new generation of gamers. Hopefully some day you will learn why Metroid can’t crawl.

    • Russ

      i can get behind what you are saying.

  • Mygaffer

    I am a PC gamer only but I think consoles will be around for at least the next 30 years. As long as people keep spending money on games, and since that has been happening for several generations I don’t know why not, people will buy game machines.