While the headline might seem like the content of the article will be about next-gen console bashing, it’s actually about their viability as a profitable cornerstone in the gaming market versus the rising power and popularity of mobile devices.
In an interview with IndustryGamers, Epic Games’ president, Mike Capps, stated that…
…I think that's the real challenge for us now, rather than worrying about the difference between a couple consoles and some order of magnitude, whether 3X or 4X. It's about how do we deal with iPhone 8... if you watch where the gamers are going that's where they are. Your iPhone 8 will probably plug into your TV, or better yet, wirelessly connect to your television set to give you that big screen gaming experience with good sound. So really, what's the point of those next-gen consoles? It's a very interesting situation to be looking at. That's what we're starting to think about more... not how do we scale from some Nintendo platform to some other future console,"I don’t doubt that mobile devices will eventually trump game consoles when it comes to hardware propensity, but the major difference between mobile gaming and home console gaming is that there is a far cry in the quality of the software content offered on both platforms, and the kind of gameplay experiences that we get from home consoles.
As readers pointed out in the comment section at IndustryGamers, most of the popular software on mobile devices is aimed at a casual audience with an attention span equivalent to that of a five year old. What’s more is that these casual titles are exceptionally cheap and have less gameplay depth than most no-budget independent PC titles.
I think the more pertinent question is how do you scale from one platform to the next while keeping down costs? If Epic says their next-gen games will look like The Samaritan and better, then it’s not a matter of trying to match the tech offered from continually advancing mobile devices but making sure that the product is accessible to the demographic it was originally intended for, without bankrupting the studio.
I think this scenario is also what really separates the PlayStation Portable units from Nintendo’s DS offerings, given that core gamers who enjoy stuff like God of War on the PS2 and PS3 can enjoy those same experiences on the PSP as well. That kind of core gaming experience has yet to be introduced to mobile devices or a Nintendo handheld, no matter how much 3D autostereoscopy has been added or how many screens you can play on.
If Epic is worried that what they start working on now for the Xbox 720 or PS4 will be trumped by some uber powerful iPad 10 in a few years then they’ve lost sight of why core gamers like their products in the first place. I mean, some of us gamers don’t play Gears of War to deal with Angry Birds or mindlessly click around on the screen to manage a Farmville. Besides, the hardware power of mobile devices to play the aforementioned games is completely moot considering that most of these mobile casual titles that become viral hits usually completely forego taking advantage of the tech that powers them. Ironic much?
You can check out the entire interview with Capps over at IndustryGamers.