Lord British Says Console Days Are Numbered
Last weekend we reported on the newly launched Kickstarter for Richard "Lord British" Garriott's upcoming multiplayer RPG, Shroud of the Avatar. This project came as a surprise to a lot of people, since Garriott hasn't been very active in the gaming industry in recent years, apart from some loose connections to an MMO here and there. But that fact hasn't made it harder for the project, which is at the time of this writing around $150.000 short of their one million goal. In an interview with RPS Garriott elaborated on the choice of going to Kickstarter as opposed to traditional publishers as he has done in the past:
"We either needed to consider a publishing partnership with a large distribution partner, or go directly to the players. [...] There were some games I made where our publisher forced us to ship before the product was finished and those results were never good. [...] By going direct to the players, we can not only avoid becoming beholden to outside influences, but instead build a relationship directly with players, for whom we are building this game."
But I digress. What I really called you all over to my bonfire here for, is because Garriott seems to have more interesting things to say. And no, I'm not talking about space travel - even though Garriott seems to be into that sort of thing as well. According to this PC Gamer article, Garriott uttered his scepticism towards the longevity and future of gaming consoles as we know them.
"Tablets are becoming so powerful, your television is already connected to the internet and frankly it's powerful. And there's a cloud of computing behind there that's easily accessed, so I'm going, 'Why in the long run do we need a console? All you really need is a controller'. It's going to be interesting to see how consoles evolve in the next few iterations to see if they can find some new compelling reason to exist."
Garriott also extends his skepticism towards Valve's still mysterious "SteamBox" project:
"Steam can be delivered on anything, you don't need a particular piece of hardware'. It could be on your television, in the cloud, on your phone, on a computer. If I watch Hulu or one of the digital movie services, I can start watching on my phone or my tablet, and flick it up to my TV. When the definition of a controller and the definition of a screen is so freely interchangeable, why do I need another particular piece of hardware?"
So in other words, Garriott believes the consoles are a thing of their time, and with all the new tech coming in to serve the same purpose with less demands for compromise, consoles might soon see the end of their days. Or at least, the way we know them. But will the current horde of console gamers agree? Will they accept seeing their favorite pastime disappear in favor of something else? We PC gamers sure were stubborn when the consoles first started taking over. A lot of us absolutely refused to move to the couch, we refused to switch out our 20-something inch monitors for a big screen, and we certainly didn't want to switch out our beloved keyboards and mice for some puny little controller. Who's to say the console gamers won't put their boot down when the looming threat of a change in the console paradigm starts to become more real? Will console gamers give in, or will they stand up with their back straight and meet the storm head-on like we PC gamers did? And speaking of the PC, what does Garriott think will happen to this way of playing games?
"I'm a believer that if you're playing in a virtual world, you want to be close to the screen and your experience is connecting to people through that screen. If you're playing Madden Football, your experience is the people sitting on the couch with you, eating chips, on this side of the screen."
Not surprising, coming from the man who pretty much invented the isometric RPG and MMORPG genres.