Looking at the video game market these days has been an experience packed with unusual directions and bizarre twists, not to mention the standard package of ups and downs. But one thing – at least, to hear Sony CEO Kaz Hirai tell it – is clear: the console business will not be going away any time soon.
Hirai, in an interview with The Verge out at the 2013 CES (News - Alert), made it quite clear that the game system – be it a home-based version or a portable model – still has a lot of life left to it.
Hirai based his assertions on customer feedback of current purchases, saying that there was "...certainly a very large segment of the video game market that is interested in playing immersive games on a game-specific device, as oppose to playing casual games on smartphones."
The PlayStation 3, by way of support, has sold over 70 million units since its release in 2006, while the PS Vita has sold over 2.2 million since its launch nearly a year ago. Meanwhile, speculation over the release of the next Sony console – and its Microsoft (News - Alert) equivalent – has been running hot for some time.
To be fair, this is exactly the kind of thing the CEO of a company with a clearly vested interest in producing consoles and console games would say. It was a fair bet that Kaz Hirai wasn't going to get up and say, yes, consoles are doomed and so you should immediately stop buying PlayStation 3 units because they won't be supported again ever.
Sony, and by extension Hirai, wants the console business to continue and at full force. If it were possible to improve said business, that would be a welcome development as well.
But at the same time, he has a point. The market for mobile gaming and casual gaming has climbed significantly in recent months, and that's likely going to take away somewhat from console gaming. "Angry Birds" didn't get popular enough to rate a theme park in Finland, among other places, without being a game a lot of people played. But there's also no getting around the fact that console games will generally be deeper, more involved, and more graphically impressive than their mobile counterparts for at least the foreseeable future.
"Words With Friends" is fun, sure, but no one will ever mistake it for "Skyrim."
There's room for all kinds in the gaming pool. While indeed, consoles are likely to lose ground to mobile and casual games, consoles are also sources of casual gaming. The Xbox Live Arcade, for example, is stuffed with casual games, from drivers to shooters and everything in between. Some of them are even more casual than some would want to see, reduced to "walk around and shoot zombies; repeat until bored."
The market is changing, there's no denying it, but what it changes into may well be better for gamers than ever, with lots more choice overall.
Kaz Hirai's assessment of the console gaming market should have been expected. But at the same time, it was also a valid one – one that means plenty more gaming fun from Sony to come.
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Edited by Braden Becker