I'm curious, I've been curious, many are convinced of a certain narrative that this is the last round of video game hardware systems to come out, that this is it for Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. It's hard to gauge the truth or plausibility behind the assertions being made and it's not entirely difficult to conceive this is such a possibility, but it still sounds a little off kilter.
The overwhelming argument is behind providing a streaming service for high quality and high definition games. It's important to view how the online providers will look throughout the country in the next five years, considering the fight over net neutrality and the issue providers have with not being able to separate high speed lanes the current situation is contentious to say the least.
So let's say the net neutrality issue will pull through and side with he consumers in the end, it's conceivable that future consoles will simply be boxes with storage options, though I'd posit that these future systems be modular, similar to building a gaming PC with the combination of modularity seen in Google's Project Ara as can be seen below.
So let's throw in the very nature of what's hypothetical in such a situation using Sony as an example, mainly for one their substantial success withs sales of the Playstation 4 over Microsoft's Xbox One, and second is Sony's financial straights that the company is currently going through cutting several departments, many jobs, and struggling to reach a profit, the following combination of services and current and potential future hardware would be the best estimate of what may come.
Sony's Playstation 5 a system that's modular in nature where a gamer's profile is set up in the cloud through Playstation Plus (possible rebrand PS Cloud or something) with an integrated SSD and/or interchangeable hard drive like the current system. As part of the modularity would go every few years Sony could update the brick or piece related to the processor, graphics, bluetooth core which would be swappable in keeping with the modularity perspective, all a player would do is simply sign into their PS Cloud account and will be presented with an option of downloading games and resuming their progress from where they left off before.
All of this is likely a futile thought exercise in something companies may never adapt or do but considering PC gamers have been building, modifying, and upgrading their machines for years it would seem to make sense that manufactures such as Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo would take a page from this and actually innovate with a longer term perspective. There's no reason Sony's Morpheus VR headset or Microsoft's Hololens, couldn't be modular in form as well. Companies could very well take pages from Android & iOS, PC gamers, Project Ara, and other areas to build out a truly innovative experience.
Considering all of the talk is surrounding the death of video game consoles one would surmize that maybe these three companies aren't too eager for such a scenario to occur, and would take a seat and look at things from a hardware and software perspective with thinking out of the box. Implementing such an approach wouldn't be a bad thing in a business sense charging for upgradable parts while delivering a possible SDK to developers large and small taking a percentage from those sales and creating an experience for customers that garners an appreciation and preference for the ecosystem is a win/win.
Microsoft had the idea in the beginning of an eventual gaming system that was primarily through the internet, the problem it always seems even historically that they continue to fail in the execution and the message, there's a reason Sony continues to outsell Microsoft in this new generation of hardware, but they have to do more to avoid the impending death sentence that has already been applied to them related to their future in gaming. With their server side hardware, cloud infrastructure, and OS, Microsoft is very well positioned to implement the examples of when I mentioned earlier regarding creating a modular platform.
Hardware makers could execute such an exercise on the hardware front and still fail, as software and the personalized gamer tags is just as vital, just as important as the hardware, and making customers comfortable with the security of their information as well as the enjoyment of building a community of friends (without having to sign into certain social services) would garner a great deal of consumer trust. This is taking a page out of iOS, build a platform for consumers to browse available content to play, or stream as can be done now but to a limited extent. Providing better mobile apps would be a part of this initiative as well as the current apps are quite limited and terrible. But this would mean a company such as Nintendo would have to lift their head out of the sand for the first time in a very long time.
Understanding the importance behind the integration of mobile, hardware, and a deeper and stronger social ecosystem could silence the pitchforks raised pertaining to the death of consoles. Without such an understanding it's possible Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo will make a lot of people random fortune tellers. And all of the above mainly dependent upon network speeds being adequate to handle such content in a streaming manner, considering the greed behind many companies such as Comcast we can only hope that we're gifted with having such services available throughout the country that isn't grotesquely expensive.