For years, analysts and industry insiders have been predicting the end of video game consoles as we know them. But now, thanks to significant advances in video game streaming technology, it seems like a console-less future is more possible than ever before. And according to Cristiano Amon, the president of a tech firm called Qualcomm, the rise of video game streaming will mean that the PlayStation 5 and next Xbox will be the last home video game consoles ever produced.
“There’s no question – in our view – that the cloud is the new console,” Amon said. “You are just gonna start playing on any device, on any screen. That is going to be the future of gaming.” The technology Amon is describing is exactly what Google Stadia brings to the table – the ability to stream a high quality video game in 60 frames per second on virtually any device, as long as the user has the Internet connection back it up.
What’s significant about Google Stadia is that it removes the barrier of needing powerful hardware to play triple-A gaming experiences. It also doesn’t require a significant Internet connection to work, with Stadia requiring just 25mbps to function. This is all in theory, of course, as Stadia has yet to release to the public, and how it works out in the wild could be much different than what we saw during its stage presentation at GDC 2019.
It’s no secret that Microsoft is also working on a game-streaming service for Xbox as well that the company hopes will help it become the “Netflix for games.” Details on this streaming service is expected to be revealed at E3 2019 in June, though it’s believed to offer similar features as the Google Stadia.
Sony has already dipped its toe in the video game streaming market with PlayStation Now, which it will likely expand with the PS5. Whether or not PlayStation Now will be expanded to offer the kind of flexibility as Stadia or if Sony will start handling the processing on its end like Google is doing remains to be seen, but perhaps that will be what the generation after PS5 will look like.
Analysts are also forgetting about Nintendo, which has been doing its own thing for years now instead of directly competing with Sony or Microsoft in a console power struggle. Nintendo’s consoles have consistently defied industry expectations, with the 3DS and Switch proving to be a highly successful handhelds despite analyst predictions that mobile phones would kill dedicated handheld gaming. So even if Microsoft and Sony decide to go with an all-streaming future, perhaps Nintendo will keep churning out traditional consoles to host its first-party exclusives.