Nathan asks: ‘Will home based consoles always have a place?’

Over the last twenty years, gaming has changed vastly. In 1994, Sony released its original Playstation model, which became a must have item even ten years after its release. It also became the first console to sell over 100 million units.

The stereotype of a console owner being the preserve of a teenage male fell away during the noughties, as older men became visible console users. There was also the rise of ‘girl gamers’, a term used of girls who are more than just casual game players. Nintendo’s release of the Wii in 2006 appealed to families who wanted to play video games together. It also introduced movement into gaming, with the Wii remote. This has been carried on by Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect. Sixth generation consoles allowed players to play with people from across the world.

Although games consoles have been a must have item for thirty years, the console market is in trouble. It has been facing stiff competition from the mobile market for a number of years, as mobile phones continue to dominate our lives and screens become more advanced. The console is also now competing with the tablet market. The console market has seen a fall in sales over the past couple of years, but this is partly due to saturation. 6 in 10 twelve to thirty four year olds own a console.

Mobile gaming has been successful, as it is portable. Temple Run and Angry Birds gain as many column inches as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto. Samsung are keen to build on this, as the Galaxy S4 will be launched with a game pad, an accessory that will transform the phone from ordinary smartphone into a handheld console. Although it is a clever idea, with a hefty price tag of around £89 (an Xbox controller is around £25), and the fact it looks like a cheap bit of thick plastic, I don’t think it will appeal to young gamers.

But as the major companies prepare to release eighth generation consoles this year, can the console survive its profits being eaten away by mobile phones and tablets? Nintendo have already released their eight generation console, the Wii U. This has not sold as well as its predecessor, and this is reflected in the fact that is barely spoken about. I don’t know anyone who owns one or wants to own one. It’s like the MiniDisc of consoles. Shiny and new when released, but no one pays it any attention.

Whilst details of the next-gen Xbox are still under wraps, the Playstation 4, rumored to be released during 2013, aims to claw back some of the mobile gaming market. It has plans to turn smartphones and tablets into second screens, to add to the gameplay. This will be achieved through the release of an app. This collaboration between smartphone/tablet and console may prove very ingenious for Sony, as many young people own a smartphone and/or a tablet.

Whilst mobile gaming is on the rise, I think that with technology innovations, global gaming, and the simple fact that console gaming is still seen as a social feature of young lives, I don’t think consoles will die out. However, I also think what we may be seeing is a reverse in trends. The noughties saw gaming become more open, with casual gamers owning consoles. As casual gamers shift toward mobile/tablet gaming, the console may return to its elite status, with only hard core gamers owning one.

Nathan A., 22, East London

Supply Teacher/ Freelance Writer