The rise of tablet and smartphone gaming doesn’t mean consoles are on the way out, Sony America boss Jack Tretton has said, any more than the popularity of PCs did.
AllThingsD asked Tretton whether the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were likely to be the last console cycle.
“It’s funny, I’ve heard about the ‘last console’ since 1986, and only because that’s when I entered the business. I’ve managed to ride the ‘last console’ wave for the last, what is that, 27 years or so?” he said.
“There’s a reason the console came about: Sitting in front of a big-screen TV on a couch with your friends. To get the immersive depth in gaming and to get the social experience of sitting around the living room, we’re not going to huddle around a tablet. We’re not going to huddle around a smartphone.”
Tretton said that mobile technology will go a long way, but it will always be trying to become a console. He also said this isn’t the first time consoles have been expected to go the way of the dodo.
“The threat in the 80s was that the PC was going to take over, and it’s certainly alive and well, but it hasn’t taken it over,” he said.
“I think smartphone and tablet gaming is actually additive. I think the next 27 years bode much better for the gaming industry than the last 27 did. It was ploughing the road and establishing it as mainstream entertainment. Now it is mainstream entertainment, and you’re going to have generations of people who grew up with gaming. 27 years from now, you’ll be hard-pressed to find somebody that was never a gamer in some way, shape or form.”
Indeed, a bunch of new companies are, arguably, getting into the console business, with products like Ouya and Steam Machines. Tretton said this happens all the time, but nobody remembers when they fail.
“The console used to be a narrow-genre, narrow-audience, single-purpose device. Now it’s multimedia to a more diverse audience, casual and core, with games from free-to-play all the way up to $60. If gaming exists somewhere, we want PlayStation to be there,” he sadded.
“So we’ll bring our games to smartphones and tablets, we’ll certainly make it available on competitive devices, we have our own smartphones and tablets. Anywhere the gamer is, we want to be. But there’s a limitation to what we can do.
“We can’t take Gran Turismo 6 and put it on a smartphone or a tablet. It’s just gonna be a lousy experience. It’s not going to be what it is. Conversely, you can go out today and play Angry Birds on your PlayStation 3 and have a great time. I’m not sure why you’d want to do that, but you could.
“It’s easier to migrate up. I’ve seen some great videos on YouTube, but I don’t confuse them with Hollywood Oscar-winning hits. That’s why you go to the movie theater, even though there’s something to be said for watching something on your smartphone. We call it ‘good-enough gaming.’”
Tretton compared console gaming to drinking fancy wine; some people are happy with a $10 bottle form the supermarket, but others get into wine as a hobby and enjoy premium experiences; that’s console gamers, then.
The PS4 launches on November 15 in North America, which is just a few hours away now, and hits Europe and selected further territories on November 29.