EA founder: consoles to become 'hobby' market

Trip Hawkins says traditional console market will never go away, but it will become smaller; says gaming has now become mass-market.

Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins does not think traditional consoles are the way forward. Speaking to IGN, Hawkins claimed that the console market will never go away, but it will become smaller, and more focused on hardcore gamers who are eager for innovation.

Consoles will become niche, Hawkins says.

"The console market is always going to be with us, because there’s always going to be a hardcore segment, a segment that likes innovation," Hawkins said. "But it’s going to become a smaller market, and it’s going to be more like a hobby market."

Hawkins likened the idea to that of airplanes, claiming most people simply want to be passengers, not actual pilots.

"You look at airplanes. Most of us just want to be a passenger, but there’s a hobby market for people who are really into aviation and want to take flying lessons and maybe someday have their own airplane," he said. "I think that’s what’s happening to the console market."

Though Hawkins thinks traditional consoles are becoming niche, he said gaming altogether has grown in popularity to the tune of reaching billions and billions of people.

"But there are billions of people now playing games," he said. "The gaming industry is finally becoming mass-market. It’s across two billion PCs and four billion mobile phones, and within a few years a billion tablets. In terms of total audience size, we’re getting into really big numbers.”

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

Discussion

0 comments
circlesusmc
circlesusmc

Thats stupid. Consoles are home to casual and hardcore gamers alike and i don't see that changing anytime soon. His analogy using passenger planes is equally stupid. Gaming will simply reach different levels of casualty. While people on tablets, phones, and a percentage of PC gamers representing the most casual of gamers. Then you will have the slightly more serious PC and console gamers playing an hour or two daily. Then you have the hardcore gamer on PC and console. Finally you have the Gamer/Modder/Amateur Game Designer. Gaming at its core will always be funded by people that play on consoles and PCs their markets are simply wider, more predictable, and make more money. Great casual games are like great accidental pieces of art. Then when it gets old its time to "stumble" onto the next addicting game. Where PC and console gaming has better set genres and larger specific groups of gamers to market to.

theKSMM
theKSMM

New gadgets are reshaping the gaming market, and nobody is quite sure what it's going to look like in the future.  Here's my prediction:

The core console and PC gaming markets will remain for those of us who like immersive, challenging, long-form games.  We will continue to upgrade our systems, download demos, and look at screenshots.  The business is still profitable even if there can only be a small handful of players at the upper echelons of that business.

 

Casual gaming will evolve as the devices available for gaming evolve.  Casual gamers will be less concerned about what games they play than about which devices they use to play them.  They won't seek out specific games so much as select among the games supported by whichever device they choose to use for gaming.  That will certainly nibble at the margins of core gaming, but I think there will be an equilibrium point at which the two will peacefully co-exist.  I'm not sure whether handheld consoles (e.g. Nintendo 3DS and Sony PlayStation Vita) will be caualties of this advance or not.

 

Frankly, the idea of having more options for gaming (core and casual) sounds great to me.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

It will be a long time before that happens!

 

(Where consoles will be a niche market of gaming sales and not the majority of sales.)

 

And if it takes as long as Trip Hawkins to just now realize gaming has become mass market - then it will be way past my life time.

Mr_Bodywave
Mr_Bodywave

Except console games sales dwarf the other gaming sales based on dollars.  The top 20 titles on xbox360 alone is more than the entire iOS has gotten total.  And if you count multiplatform, just the top 10 would do that.

M3o5nster
M3o5nster

Isn't COD breaking all kinds of sales records on consoles? What's this guy talking about...

 

Disclaimer: In no way am I advocating the purchase or play of COD.

Droogie_1
Droogie_1

what is the point of all these philosophical EA "news" articles?  are you guys trying to force me to a different gaming site?  also...the reviews have been TERRIBLE lately (last 6 months).  it's like EA has taken over management here...

Mackey18
Mackey18

In my opinion it could be the other way around. Consoles are becoming less hardcore (what with Move and Kinect) and are being aimed at the larger demographic. Hardcore gamers, or hobbyists as he puts it, may end up moving to another media, like PC gaming or something.

TigusVidiks
TigusVidiks

this would be good news if he took the opportunity to abandon games altogether and move to  ruin a different business. Just shows how lost he is in his greed, instead of looking at what 's in his plate he's looking into everybody else's plate and drooling. The hardcore gaming market actually grew in the last decades and went from a few hundred thousand world wide to a few millions. So just because a few more million people besides those  also love to play browser games or mobile games, console market it will never become a nich again. At the very worse, it will eventually stop growing.

oskuuu
oskuuu

it has become my hobby to laugh at the idiots working at ea :D

TioShard
TioShard

His analogy of plane passengers and pilots is stupid. I'd figure a 'pilot' would more indicate the 'game developer' in the way he is speaking. I don't like it when stupid people try to make analogies. It makes me sad.

TheCyborgNinja
TheCyborgNinja

I hope he's right. Gaming was a lot better before frat boys and soccer moms got involved and filled the software libraries almost exclusively with shooters and soulless motion-based games.

GH05T-666
GH05T-666

lol he is a d**k.

Shows what big company executives who are rich and dont know anything about the people who they sell games to.

 

Gaming will become more popular. It already has in my 25 years of gaming. only nerds and little kids use to play games now I'm seeing people of all sorts, genders and ages playing games. Gaming will only get more popular in the future.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

I have no idea what the hell he was going for with that analogy.  Hardcore gamers are pilots while everyone else is a passenger?  What?

GetafixOz
GetafixOz

This actually doesnt make much sense because if hes saying hardcore gamers want innovation (which I agree with). Then how is that innovation going to be delivered ? On mobiles and tablets ? I think consoles are going to become more mainstream not less and if you want really think gamers want deep innovative content (WHICH WE DO) then stop making 10 hour long teeny trash games and start making some of these so called innovative ones. Then release them..... um .... on console.... I think Trip is a good name for you.

aussiemuscle
aussiemuscle

Consoles will only become niche because big companies like EA will push hard to develop games for mobile tablets and the like. With most of the development budget, they will flourish and us hardcore gamers will be sidelined. i guess casual gamers are quicker to open their wallets.

slyfox74
slyfox74

I'm a pilot and love PC so I must look like a Jedi to Mr. Hawkins, or more likely a leper...

 

PC is not dead, consoles are not for simulations and are not "niche". this is poppycock i say!

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

Calling these social "gamers" gamers at all is quite funny, at best social gaming has replaced newspapers in the bathroom and on the bus. That's about it, I've yet to see anyone say anything like "I'm gonna take a break from Skyrim, I really need to get that third star on Angry Birds".

 

On the other hand, if this is publishers' current view on the situation, great, let's get more innovative on the console and leave the copy-paste jobs for the mobiles.

maximo
maximo

"Airplanes' LMAO

 

And this guy is supposed to be providing software for the future of gaming.

 

Shame everything he touches turns to dust for gamers and $$$ for him.

ryogapower
ryogapower

clearly what Trip Hawkins knows about consoles can be filed under '3DO'.

 

Leftboot
Leftboot

I honestly haven't seen any data that points to this, nor do I know anyone tossing aside their consoles for ipods, androids, or tablets. This is all part of a race to capture as much of the giant casual market as possible. Think about what he's saying. When you look at both the console and PC, it's easier to compare them since they play games quite similarly, both utilizing controllers, keyboards, or mice; this is a fundamental element of the way we play our games. There's also high definition televisions or monitors that we view our games on. So basically, he's saying that people are abandoning these and going for simplistic touch gaming on a tiny screen. It makes no sense. These companies are all trying to grab their share of the giant casual market and they're simply defending their positions(based on things they know they're doing within their company) in these interviews or wherever. 

omenjamlord
omenjamlord

Hobbie of mine since the megadrive days, wake up saturday morning for some streets of rage and road rash :D

rob_dAmAgE
rob_dAmAgE

I think of it more as "Quick Fix" gamers vs. "Full-Blown Addict" gamers. QF's are completely fine with turning on the iPhone/tablet and getting a few minutes in with Angry Birds & the like. FBA's dabble in QF territory once in awhile, but when it comes down to it, would rather be immersed in their worlds all the time.

Pavlara
Pavlara

people who sit in the 'big chairs' will always see it from a dollars stand point.  thats their job.  to make money for their company.  im talking about the big ones of course.  actual love of games comes from people in the industry either further down the ladder or within smaller companies.  consoles will always be there yes but now other types such as mobile gaming are big.  gree bought fuzio for 250 mil and they make three mobile phone  games. COD games are making a bazilion dollars for activision.  if i was ceo of any of the other companies id try to follow the trend too because i have board member who want profit. example is  resident evil has become all action  and dead space is turning to action even though both these games were put on the map because they started off as survival horror.  it suck but it s business.      

Falru
Falru

It was essentially a hobby market to begin with. There's still a big difference now between "people who play videogames" and "people who played videogames when they were 4 years old"

mario-nin-freak
mario-nin-freak

I agree, he's actually the first person who's made some sense for once! But I don't think it will get too much smaller. The popularity of gaming in general will eventually leave those casual gamers wanting more than they can get on their smartphones. When that happens(Which already is happening) people will suddenly flock to consoles again to get something new. It's a circular cycle. Once this cycle of consoles gets older, a new form of gaming will come out outside of consoles and get popular for a short time. Once the new gen comes out yet again and those people see something new, they will again flock to it. Were just at the very beginning of a new cycle. Nintendo knows this, that's why they are making sure that Wii U is the first to the market. They know there's a big market of hungry consumers out there right now, and they want to cash in first.

Darth_Ultima
Darth_Ultima

This might be the first thing I have read from anyone associated with EA that does not make me want to break out the pitchforks and torches, probably because he left EA before they became a bunch of money grubbing a******s.  I think most people are missing the point he was trying to make.  He is saying that consoles will be more focused on hardcore gamers and not trying to appeal to everyone from your 2 year old sibling to your 80 year old grandma.  I would like a little less attention paid to the CoD players to.  I like shooters but for crying out loud like other genre's too.  Plus smaller is not always a bad thing.   If you want the anti-thesis of smaller then look at CoD.  I think the industry could use a little less CoD mentality.

Tidal_Abyss
Tidal_Abyss

 @Mackey18

 I've heard some of my console friends grumble about m$'s addition of a bunch of media features to put it breifly and threaten to leave the platform for PC (since they could still use a controller and game from a couch, which is what they like).

 

On the other hand, what m$ needs to remember is, not many casual gamers are going to buy an xbox just for those casual features, you can use kinect on PC, touchscreen on PC, game from the couch, desk or your cushy bed on your large screen t.v. on PC, games from casual to hardcore on PC, controller or m/kb on PC, etc. -a PC which they have in their houses anyway, plus all the media features they add to xbox (and more) are going to be possible on PC (already are) - casuals alone aren't going to spend as much as a Gamer- media and their casual games are already on PC, if you chase the gamers off that xbox, that will eliminate the casuals that played on it since it was already there-  they won't go buy an xbox just for that, they'll use their PC's which they already have.

rarson
rarson

 @oskuuu 

 

Trip doesn't work at EA, he founded the company. He left years ago.

circlesusmc
circlesusmc

@TioShard I think he tried to mean developers made the plane. Then..... I dunno. I'm trying to make sense of this stupid analogy too.

rarson
rarson

 @GH05T-666 

 

You completely missed the point of what he was saying. He's saying that as gaming expands into more casual markets, the percentage of people buying dedicated gaming hardware will become a smaller portion of the overall market. Those people and that hardware will still be there, but the majority of games will be played on non-dedicated hardware like phones and tablets. That's a huge market because most people are starting to buy smart phones if they haven't already and the cost of entry is low.

 

Note that he specifically said that consoles will still be around - he's not one of the execs who think cloud gaming will be ready and in high demand in an absurdly short period of time. He's not predicting the end of the console industry.

 

Trip helped build EA into a major publisher from the ground up. He also spearheaded the launch of a console that didn't do too well. He learned the hard way about what happens when you overshoot your market, so yeah, I think maybe he does know a little bit about the industry.

dman123_1
dman123_1

 @GH05T-666 HE didn't say gaming  wouldn't become more popular...... WHat he said was, Consoles will be smaller, but gaming as a whole will get even bigger than it is now (through PC gaming, Tablet and Mobile gaming). Consoles however, will be for a niche market, not for the massive market.

xDeadMarchx
xDeadMarchx

 @GH05T-666 I'm sure you have sales figures and marketing surveys to back up your claim too.

rarson
rarson

 @GetafixOz 

 

Consoles? Duh. He even says that right in the article:

 

"The console market is always going to be with us..."

dman123_1
dman123_1

 @GetafixOz Well, you have to think if your market is largely hardcore gamers, then you would deliver content for hardcore gamers, but if your main market is casual gamers, then you will deliver a bunch of casual games. There is no "pushing the envelope" when you market to casual gaming. WHat I think he is trying to say is, most casual gamers who may own a console now, may skip paying hundreds of dollars on a console, and just play games on devices such as smart phones, tablets and PC, making the console market smaller.

GetafixOz
GetafixOz

@aussiemuscle Think of it this way. Is the "hardcore" gamer market likely to expand or contract as the general gamer base increases ? Logic says it will increase as more casual gamers become so called hardcore. Ergo, hes talking out of his........

rarson
rarson

 @slyfox74 

 

He didn't say any of that, so I'm not sure what you're arguing about.

Sgthombre
Sgthombre

 @Daemoroth "has replaced newspapers"

Christ that is depressing. "What's that? Another massacre in West Africa? I didn't hear about that, I was too busy playing Where's My Water."

rarson
rarson

 @maximo 

 

You realize that Trip left EA years ago, right?

nate1222
nate1222

 @Darth_Ultima

 Thank you.

 

I think consoles are gonna be a bit more niche from the 8th gen forward. Casual gamers have smart phones. Alotta 'core' gamers, like myself, have gone the PC route (GOG, Steam, Gamersgate).

 

And CoD and Madden buffs don't count as 'core' gamers. They only own a console for 2-3 franchises: CoD, Madden (FIFA in Europe), and maybe Halo. That very limited taste doesn't count as 'gamer' nor 'core gamer' in my book.

 

 

TigusVidiks
TigusVidiks

 @Tidal_Abyss  @Mackey18  I'm not so sure. The point is not if casual gamers will spend as much money as hardcore ones.  The point is if the casual gaming business will give more money than the hardcore gaming business, and that seems like a done fact. Companies will spend a lot less money in development to do casual games, and even if the business model is different, it's starting to be more profitable. Casual gamers won't pay for the game itself, but the potential for E-publicity, and in-game items at very small prices is tremendous, considering the universe of gamers. So instead of saying that consoles are going to become a nich market, he should be saying - "we are going to turn consoles into a nich market" - because that is the truth.What he means is that EA is considering downgrading the investment in hardcore games, and increase it in casual games, where the money is.   That politic is being followed by other companies too, and the end result of that (in a few years) is consoles becoming a nich market by force. Gamers will still be looking for AAA games. But there will be a lack of them.

rarson
rarson

 @Sgthombre  

 

Like that'll be in the newspaper anyway. Have you actually read one lately?

camyers1310
camyers1310

 @Sgthombre  @Daemoroth Well at least someone playing Where's my Water doesn't have to deal with the reminder that the world is a shitty place and the only news that anyone cares to write about deals with death and crisis.   

Tidal_Abyss
Tidal_Abyss

 @nate1222  @Darth_Ultima

 'He is saying that consoles will be more focused on hardcore gamers and not trying to appeal to everyone....'

 

 seems m$ missed that memo- my friends with an xbox are compaining how they are focusing on things other than gamers or at least non casual gamers with all these media features incoming- sounds like more mass appeal to me. What console users forget is a console (in my opinion) is built for mass appeal. That's why everything about it was built to be easy, to appeal to more people.  If in the future the trend only continues, I think we'll see PC gaming explode. (*If I in any way misread your comments, apologies, I'm going on verrry little sleep, and hesistated even commenting lol). :)

circlesusmc
circlesusmc

@TigusVidiks @Tidal_Abyss @Mackey18 The problem with that thinking is assuming there are as many successful casual titles as there are in the hardcore gaming world. They won't really go beyond a certain tech point because the chance of success is so low. Leaving hardcore gaming, that is constantly growing and appealing to a larger demographic, free to take the larger piece of the pie. Plus casual gaming is much more the people that want a free game or two to play when they are waiting to renew their drivers license at the dmv. Most people don't pay for casual games. All in all, sure the market will grow for casual games but it will always be smaller and more unpredictable compared to hardcore gaming. The next stage is for "consoles" to essentially disappear as they become more and more like a full fledged home computer with a gaming specific operating system.

rarson
rarson

 @Tidal_Abyss

 

I agree, consoles are becoming more PC-like, which is great in theory because they can do more things while attached to your TV. The problem is that the PC platform has already spent years figuring out how to deal with multitasking, patching, OS updates, etc. while the consoles are just starting to figure it out. So they actually are starting to show a bunch of downsides that don't even affect the PC anymore, like lengthy updates that you can't download in the background. The PC is becoming a more convenient gaming platform (especially thanks to Steam), so I wouldn't be surprised to see PC gaming grow.

 

Microsoft should be better at this. They're better than Sony, but I can't for the life of me figure out why they can't make the entire update process an invisible experience. At least they have the development tools right.

 

One of the reasons I like playing all my old consoles is that I turn them on and I can start gaming right away. I don't need to sign into anything or be connected to the internet, and I don't need to fuss with an OS menu. Having all that extra functionality is great and very convenient, but sometimes I just want to get to the game and console updates drive me nuts.