Co-Founder Claims Current Gen Consoles Are Dying Breed, Set-Top Boxes Are The Future

Seven years elapsed between the launch of Sony's PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 consoles, and it took eight years for Microsoft to upgrade from the Xbox 360 to the Xbox One. Assuming the same or similar time frames, we expect a new round of consoles from Sony and Microsoft around the year 2020, right? Not so fast, says Emmet Shear, co-founder of the popular and live streaming service called Twitch.

The way Shear sees the future of gaming played out, these will be the last dedicated home consoles the market will ever see. Well, save for Nintendo's NX system, which we already know the company is working on, though it's not clear if that's a home console or a handheld system like the 3DS. Whatever, we're getting off track here.

PlayStation and Xbox
Image Source: Flickr (Gage Skidmore)

Shear shared his thoughts with The Guardian during the Changing Media Summit in London. And according to Shear, the long life cycles between console launches no longer meshes with the rest of the consumer electronics industry, which he says is on a two-year upgrade cycle.

"It's so intrinsically built into how consoles get manufactured and made and the full business model, that I'd be surprised to see another generation," Shear said.

Instead of the traditional model of releasing a major new console every 7-10 years, Shear says, "they're going to have to change form." He's not 100 percent clear on this vision, but it sounds like he's referring to a set-top box.

"I could imagine a version 1.1 product from both Microsoft and Sony which adds in slightly more speed and slightly more memory very similar to how phones and tablets work today," Shear said. "I think it's going to look more like the mobile phone market over time."

It's an interesting perspective, especially since console gaming as it exists has been so important to Twitch.