Microsoft Game Studios' Vice President Phil Spencer doesn’t think hardware-based consoles will become obsolete anytime soon. Asked on Twitter if he believes that the Xbox One will be the last console to use local hardware, Spencer responded, “I don’t.”
"I think local computers will be important for a long time," Spencer continued. "You can look at mobile, connected to faster networks, more cloud services, but local power still increases each gen." He also pointed out the issue of bandwidth. "Bandwidth caps clearly an issue, still believe [hardware] & [software] engineers working together will find local hardware scenarios critical.”
Last week at 2014 International CES, Microsoft competitor Sony announced the development of PlayStation Now, an upcoming cloud-based service that will make the PlayStation network more accessible to gamers. PlayStation Now will allow users to log in to their PlayStation accounts via Sony televisions, smartphones and tablets, anywhere and anytime. The service, which will launch this summer, will grant access to play titles instantly across a multitude of different devices. Sony plans to launch a library of PS4, PS3 and PS Vita titles -- and gamers will always have access to the most updated versions of games. Since the service is hosted in a cloud, users have the options to take games with them. As long as you can access your Sony Entertainment Network account on a compatible device, your games and progress will be instantly available.
Shortly after this announcement, GameStop share price fell 8 percent, leaving some industry analysts wondering if gaming hardware will eventually become unnecessary. Wedbush Securities gaming analyst Michael Pachter wasn’t convinced that PlayStation Now would affect GameStop sales long-term. “The sell-off in GameStop shares that followed the PS Now announcement is overdone,” he said. “GameStop’s used gaming sales from PS3 discs on PS3 consoles are most likely to be impacted; however, until we know more about game availability, timing and pricing, among other factors, we do not see a meaningfully negative impact to GameStop in the near-term.”
Though streaming video games and cloud-based services may one day render consoles useless, that day may not be as near as you’d think. Do you feel that cloud-based gaming will replace hardware gaming sometime during the next decade? Leave a comment below.