We regularly hear the same phrase: “The death of game consoles is coming soon!”. It seems that the players’ opinion doesn’t matter, and that there’s some kind of morbid urgency to bury our machines. Among the supposed gravediggers: the PC of course, the smartphone, the cloud and God knows what else… Yet, according to the latest news, the console market is doing quite well.

Switch – PS4 – Xbox One
With more than 110 millions units sold, the Sony PS4 is the fourth best-selling console of all time. The reasons for this success? A pragmatic positioning (a console to play with, period!), at a rather fair price, with some nice exclusives.

And what about the insolent success of the Switch, sold more than 50 million copies in just 2 years. Nintendo has succeeded in making a name for itself in a nomadic market supposedly cannibalized by smartphones. Proof if proof were needed that even the general public knows how to distinguish casual gaming from real videogame experiences.

The smartphone, that videogame nightmare
It’s a fact: a lot of people play on smartphones. Despite all the contempt some people have for this platform (appalling ergonomics, an economic model that makes you wince…), I get that you can get a Candy Crush in public transportation, waiting rooms… After all, mobile gaming has never killed anyone (looking nervously at you, Pokemon Go).

From there to imagining that a smartphone player equals one console player less…This makes people that grew up with consoles very skeptical. The sales of big games that require a high investment of time (Red Dead Redemption 2, The Witcher 3 or Assassin’s Creed Odyssey) show that the general public is asking for complex, dense and well-written games. There has to be an intriguing story involved in the game. Everything that mobile gaming can’t offer! And even if PC gaming is not lacking in exciting features, the console remains an accessible and hassle-free gateway to discover these worlds in good conditions with mind-blowing specs.

Of course, not everything about mobile gaming is to throw away. Indeed, some games are only accessible via smartphone, and many are more convenient to play. For example, many people like to play poker or online sports betting, on the go at their own convenience, where you can place bets, following advice based on very advanced statistical analysis, forecasts, etc. all live. Or the quick and easy games like Candy Crush and Angry Birds that keep us entertained during delays like standing in line or waiting for public transport. No-one has escaped the smartphone. What was once the domain of the pimply-faced geek with glasses a while ago, is now part of everyone’s daily life.

The cloud, to the disadvantage of gamers?
Microsoft’s video game division continues to reveal how it will transform its offerings as it approaches the launch of the Xbox X Series. The xCloud project, which has been in the beta phase for over a year, will soon reach the stage of true commercial availability. During the month of September, access to Microsoft’s cloud gaming service will be included in the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription offer. Let’s see if the technology will live up to expectations.

Because if there’s one thing to remember regarding the cloud so far, it’s that the general public hates being dictated to. The recent statements of Google’s video game service on “the end of the console era”, finally commits only the Californian firm. With its position as a pretentious challenger, excessively sure of a completely wobbly product (Stadia), Google has taken a well-deserved backlash. Alas, Cloud gaming is like weeds: nobody wants it, but it always comes back. 

Machines, with extra soul
Fortunately, the players are still very attached to the “game console” object and do not hesitate to defend their favorite platform. Sometimes to the point of excess, with the endless “Sony vs Microsoft vs Nintendo” debates that feed the specialized forums again and again. Some fans willingly transform themselves into real sales representatives of their favorite brand. That’s also what passion is all about ;)

It doesn’t matter if, inside today’s machines, you only find simple computer components, or even smartphone components. The engine of Playstation, Switch and co, is this very familiar ecosystem that is perpetuated generation after generation. Nintendo understands this perfectly, and it’s probably the strongest example of this “console identity”. The Switch’s core target is people who grew up with Mario, Zelda, Pokemon… More than entertainment, it’s a cultural heritage that has been handed down through the ages. A concept that is necessarily difficult to grasp for a monument of cynicism like Google, which sees the video game market as just another way of collecting data.