The CEO of Ubisoft, Yves Guillemot, says there's a good chance the next hardware generation could be the last. He cites the increasing power of cloud gaming which could deliver console-like experiences to homes via streaming.
In an interview with Variety, Guillemot said that he thinks there will be another generation of consoles, "but there is a good chance that step-by-step we will see less and less hardware," afterwards. Guillemot added, "With time, I think streaming will become more accessible to many players and make it not necessary to have big hardware at home."
Guillemot says that accessibility of AAA games on any platform or any device is the next big step in gaming. Cloud servers are already starting to pull more weight than local hardware when it comes to gaming, and Guillemot thinks that cloud computing will overtake the need for hardware altogether.
"There are quite a few people that are working on streaming, like Nvidia," says Guillemot citing Nvidia's Geforce Now service which is currently in free beta. The service lets players stream high-end games on basic hardware like laptops, and the company says the service can turn any computer into a high-performance game machine.
Of the three main console makers, Microsoft seems to be the most aligned with Guillemot's predictions. Xbox head Phil Spencer has championed freedom of play for Xbox games through things like backwards compatibility, cross-platform play between Xbox, PC, and even rival consoles. There's also the Netflix-like Game Pass service that lets players play as many Game Pass available games as they want for a monthly fee.
Nintendo and Sony are more likely to stick with their preferred hardware considering the success each company has had with their current-gen platforms. Sony even announced that it is readying the next-gen of consoles in three years. But it is true that companies are investing heavily into cloud gaming, which could one day stream AAA games to set top boxes and smart TVs.
There are still challenges of course, mainly access to the internet. There are large numbers of gamers, even within the US, who don't have access to internet strong enough to stream full games. So until that bridge is gapped local gaming hardware is still the best conduit for video games. What do you think about Guillemot's predictions?