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Will Games Console Brands Disappear in the Coming Years?

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If you’ve only been playing video games since the 2000s, you have probably known a world in which the console market has been controlled and dominated by three companies – Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo.

During that time, Sony and Microsoft have been locked in a two-horse battle for market share among players looking for the most powerful machines. Meanwhile, Nintendo has been content with doing its own thing, focusing on fun rather than graphics and size, and creating unique ways to interact with games, such as its motion-controlled Wii and Switch platforms.

However, these are not the only companies that have been involved in the console gaming market. If we only look at dedicated home consoles (leaving out portable and handheld devices), there have been more than 30 companies that have released hardware and several more that cancelled their projects before they actually made it to market. Some of these devices include the Atari 2600 and Intellivision, which look very dated today.

For one reason or another, though usually slow sales and low profitability, most of these companies have bowed out of the console market. Some of the biggest casualties have been Atari, Sega, Capcom, Bandai, Apple, and Philips.

In more recent years, both Sony and Nintendo have retired their portable consoles, with no major company manufacturing hardware for this market. This has been the result of the proliferation of mobile gaming on smartphones and tablets and the fact that Nintendo has switched to making hybrid consoles like the Switch.

What is clear from this is that the games console market is fluid. So, as technology and player preferences change, could the home consoles from Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo also disappear?

Many Other Ways to Play

Modern gamers have infinitely more choice today than in the past. Instead of just a couple of different devices to play quality games on, they have consoles, gaming PCs, everyday computers, smartphones, tablets, virtual reality headsets, and smart TVs.

Computers are proving to be one of the most versatile options as they provide access to the most content. In addition to the games available in marketplaces like Steam and the Epic Games Store, many other titles can be enjoyed from within your web browser, including major hits like Runescape, Pokémon Showdown, and Wordle.

Online casinos are another example of this web-based competition for consoles. These sites offer different types of games to consoles, with thousands of varying titles for players to choose from.

By far, the most popular option at these casinos is online slots. These are digital versions of the traditional slot machine that first burst onto the scene in the late 19th century. At leading platforms like Betway, players have access to a wide range of slots games, including Trojan Kingdom, Masters of Olympus, Jurassic Park Gold, and Terminator 2.

This alone is enough to show that consoles are no longer a necessity, but it doesn’t necessarily mean players will fall out of love with them.


Source: Unsplash

Platform Agnostic Gaming

The traditional business model for console manufacturers has been to capture a large share of the market by selling consoles as a loss leader and then profiting from licensing fees attached to the games.

This has led to many exclusive contracts that meant games would only be made for one platform or have their release delayed on other consoles. While such titles still exist – often because the game was developed in-house by the console manufacturer – it is becoming less commonplace.

Not only that, but companies are making their games available on non-console platforms. Fortnite is one of the best examples of this as it is available to play on almost any modern device, including current and previous generation consoles, computers (including underpowered ones), smartphones, and tablets. The free-to-play battle royale even incorporates cross-platform play so that gamers can compete with their friends, even if they don’t own the same machines.

Both Microsoft and Sony have early versions of their streaming platforms available too. This allows players who pay for a subscription to their service to play many of their games on devices other than their consoles. So, at least in theory, they can pause a game on their Xbox and pick up where they left off on their laptop later on.

This is clearly a move by the companies to ensure that they’re not outcompeted by a new entrant into the market who offers a streaming service. However, it is also clear that it could eventually spell the end of the physical games console as we know it.

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