Garriott predicts demise of traditional consoles

Ultima creator sees mobile and social games pushing out current consoles' viability; says industry may not even see another generation of boxes.

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Richard Garriott established his career with the seminal role-playing game series Ultima. But just as Garriott's professional focus has moved to the social and mobile sector with his new company Portalarium, so too does he see the rest of the industry following suit.

Garriott is so futuristic he has already taken a trip to space for fun.
Garriott is so futuristic he has already taken a trip to space for fun.

Speaking with Industry Gamers, Garriott said he doesn't see the age of the traditional console lasting much longer due to the rise of mobile and social games. "I think we might get one more generation, might, but I think fundamentally they're doomed. I think fundamentally the power that you can carry with you in a portable is really swamping what we've thought of as a console," said the Ultima creator.

Garriott also addressed the state of the industry saying he believes it has entered its "third grand era." He said, "The first grand era was solo player games, which I'll call all of the '80s and '90s, generally; then there's the grand era of massively multiplayer games, that I'll call in the 2000s; and now I believe in the '10s we are now into the casual and social game era. And each of those eras are not only hallmarked by being (a) solo player, (b) multiplayer, and (c) browser and asynchronous types of play, but each time the market has grown tenfold, in very important and powerful ways."

Garriott sees the future of games as bright though. He spoke to his frustration with the trend of graphics outweighing game design, effectively introducing games that are fundamentally the same as previous releases, just prettier. However, the developer said his excitement about the industry is greater than it has ever been. The number of games outside of his own that he has finished stood at a handful until mobile games came around. "Now on mobile, just in the last two years, I've gotten more than that," said Garriott.

Garriott's last major title was Tabula Rasa from 2007. The massively multiplayer online role-playing game was shut down in 2009 after selling only 61,000 copies in the US.

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