Relax. Gaming Consoles Aren’t Dead

Well… At least not yet.

Mobile and social media are the sexy new platforms du jour. With users increasingly spending their time on these medium also playing games, the adage is that those dedicated black living room set-op boxes will become irrelevant and redundant.

Well… Hmmm. No. No. And well, at least not yet.

Context. Context. Context.

According to emaketer, users spend about 5 hours a day online, half of which is spent on mobile. Surely that’s plenty of time on competing media devices but two things stand out. First, total  amount of time spent on media has grown and second, the TV share has remained constant at around 4.5 hrs. As online activity grows television is very much still in the mix.

Over 263 million third generation consoles were sold as of Jan 2014 (see: vgchartz). A little over 2 months into the fourth, hardware sales are strong with totals of 14 million. This news is more of the same ; video games have been a living room staple for over two decades now. None of it is sexy. Mobile is the shinny new toy in the room getting all the attention.

With addictively simple mechanics mobile games have lowered the barrier to entry such that anyone from toddlers to your grandma can intuitively partake on any mobile device. As a result, the overall gaming audience has grown tremendously over the last decade having added legitimacy to the category of casual gamers, now layered on top of the already stacked hardcore set.  Bo Featherhunter playing Angry Birds on his iPhone is different than Jo Thunderclap on FPS Battlefield.  These different audiences have their own unique engagement video games.

Mobile devices offer users a fresh (accelerometer & gyroscope driven), simple (touch), no frills experience on much smaller screens. Their portability drive a contextual experience in which the user conveniently seeks escape from his environment. Whereas set-op boxes tethered to large screens TV’s in the living room offer a robust ecosystem in a more intimate setting. Users in this case seek out this gaming environment to engage. It’s a primary user choice rather than an available option.

I’ll spare you the foreplay in the form of a long dissertation and simply say that there is still huge demand for polished, more immersive form of play. In terms of the finite commodity of time consoles no longer dominate what we’ve traditionally called gaming but the demand for the experience (setting and quality) is still there. So long as people want they will get.