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.

279 Comments

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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iloveyourface

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"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." EXACTLY!!!!!!!

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smoke_dog_4ever

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@jubdeidamasta most of your comment is spot on with the exception of "'Industry experts' said arcades would disappear too". Arcades ARE disappearing. There may still be some around in a few bigger cities, but in many places, my own home town as an example, have seen two go under. One was at our local mall for years and it finally went out of business about 5 years ago. I think the economy could be partly to blame, but I also believe a huge blow has come from the affordability of used games - you can get many PS2 used games for well under $10 now - some PS3 and 360 used games at that price as well.

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The-Neon-Seal

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So sayeth the guy who made Tabula Rasa. An end to single player core-centric games? Not on bethesdas watch, nor 343's or 2K's.

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cjf187x

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This is exactly why MS is trying to make the Xbox a multimedia device. By incorporating TV, music and your games, along with Twitter, Facebook and whatever else, you have everything right there in 46" of glory and you won't suffer from a stiff neck. I think mobile gaming is great for on the go when you aren't able to have your console with you, plane, trains and automobiles. But who is going to use their mobile device when they have a console set up to a TV? Point is, MS, Sony and Nintendo made a fortune this generation and MS still sold ~1M consoles over Thanksgiving. Consoles aren't going anywhere for the time being, too much money to be had.

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dc_camel

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He's got a point! Just like the movie theaters went out of business when the television came out....oh wait.

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luizferrarezzi

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he wants to believe that but is not true.

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shadowysea07

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lmao what a crackpot. consoles will continue to last until its viable for downloadable only games and those casual games on facebook to have a stable audience. currently console games sell too well for them to drop it currently. as long as pokemone and games like it are selling millions of copies console gaming wont die out any time soon. computer gaming isn't that viable due to not everyone having great enough internet connections or the money to spend on a gaming pc.

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payne6705

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I think we have 1 or 2 more generations to go before the consoles go obsolete. With the way things are going I won't be surprised if a steam like service will be available for everyone with just a TV and a 40 dollar box and controller.

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jubdeidamasta

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Casual gaming is not increasing. Take the wii for example which sales wise has kind of flattened out. Facebook and other such social media/casual games. Don't really appear to the more hardcore fanbase who are willing to spend hundreds of dollars on games and machines. "Industry experts" said arcades would disappear too.

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smirvane

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That's right I'm not changing my Fallout, God of war or Bioshock and others for, farmvile? are you serious? I want something with deep content, that's what I personally love about videogames, they have an story, a tale to tell, unforgettable characters, that you will always remember like, Mario, Lara Croft, Gordon Freeman, Cloud, Link, Garrett and so many others...... If this becomes true here is where you ask, I'm this old? are the video games turning or evolving in something else, and I was left behind in the past?..... if the video games, evolve in this way, well I will have to declare myself an ex-gamer in the years to come, that's for sure...

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midnightclubx

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Yeah, just like that Yahoo report a while ago where they say that future video game consoles will be freaking monitors, right? all I can say to him is, "U Mad, Bro?"

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jsmoke03

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I'm sorry gut I have to disagree. I think mobile games and social games are a stop gap.its what you do when passing time. It opened up a new market and casual gaming but I think it pushes out handhelds not consoles

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nurse_tsunami

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When MS announces the next Xbox at E3 this year, he'll be eating his words. No doubt Sony has something coming too, and Nintendo has that weird Wii follow up.

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clockworkengine

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I think services like Onlive are the real future. Cloud boxes over high speed internet connections. People are already tethered to the internet by their CoDs or BF3s, the used market is already dwindling, and people are already downloading complete games instead of buying retail packages at the store. Think about it: What if you could buy a cloud box for 50 bucks and subscribe to your online games as an all you can eat service at the same price as xbox live, rather than a box-and-tag package you'd have to spend 60 bucks on AND pay the online service fees? Garriot is right in a way, consoles are on their way out, but the user experience of a console is going to remain the same, provided by a streaming box that only cost a few bucks instead.

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DiscGuru101

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I think we could see consoles life cycles increase for even more years as HDD size increase and cloud computing advances. I'm starting to believe (finally) that in a decade or so discs will be almost completely irrelevant outside of person use.

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DiscGuru101

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I almost bought a copy of Tabula Rasa. Almost.

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praack

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tabula rasa was a shame- had no chance agains the WOW Juggernaut at the time. he though may have a point on the consoles- but too early on his prediction. I believe we'll see the next gen- but none after. and the next gen console may not be compelling enough to upgrade to- not when your PC is already at a higher level than the specs of a next gen console

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Ghosthunter54

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Because the games of the 80s and 90s have died out too, right? All those single player only games are long gone. Except for Mass Effect. And Dragon Age. And Oblivion. And Skyrim. It's a different market entirely. Hardcore gamers don't play farmville, they play Battlefield. They don't play games by Zenga, they play games by Bungi and Bioware. It's a completely new customer base emerging for social gaming - it isn't the current gaming fans migrating. History disproves this guy's though process. Even though many people like multiplayer games, like GoW, Halo, CoD, and Battlefield, many of them (and many others) still like games like Skyrim and Mass Effect. Most people who buy games aren't limited to buying only one game per year - and they can both social "game" and hardcore game if they want, it's not an either or situation. It's got a different fan base, and for the fans that are hardcore gamers, they aren't giving up their Xbox's and Play Stations for farmville. The gameing industry isn't going to be killed by social gaming. Period.

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jezz555

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hes just mad because tabula rasa failed

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WafflePrime

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sounds like someone needs to look at a recent console sales chart

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twisted_outlaw

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this guy is dumb. only reason sales are up on phones is bc guess what? they're phones. consoles and video games have grown ten fold alright. but the handheld market is suffering from smart phones. thats it.

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minijeffro

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I'm excited to see what the future holds for mobile gaming, but so far I've only seen lots of gimmicky games that create a lot of buzz and then die off. Usually these games are quite simple and based around a simple mechanic. The immersion level is usually very low, and targeted for the non-serious gamer audience. I'm not saying that can't change but the handheld device has its limitations, especially the ipod and phone based games. I too am sick of industry spokesmen trying to predict the future of gaming. I don't know why anyone would listen to Richard Garriott, that guy hasn't had a successful game in 20 years yet he still has to chime in and say a bunch of BS. The evolution of entertainment technology is not academic in nature, it does not follow a "movement" type evolution. I wish mobile gaming all the best but as long as people live in houses with a screen where they can immerse themselves in a interactive experience, then there will be consoles in some format.

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mattcake

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And again, for God's sake Gamespot "UK", understand that when I type a pound sign it is not "malformed html", it's a pound sign. Go google "htmlspecialchars" and learn how to interpret them safely, ta.

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mattcake

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Yes consoles are dying bla bla bla just like the original xbox was gonna replace the PC. It *really* worries me that people in the industry know so little about what's going on around them. Casual gaming is bringing in NEW, I'll repeat that, NEW, gamers... its not replacing the base gamers that were there to begin with which you still need to support and which still make you the most profit (e.g. there may be less core gamers now than casual, but we pay 40UKP a game, not 69p on itunes) People will never stop demanding the latest tech, and with the PC market as it is, consoles are the best we have, therefore they will always be in demand. The only thing he sorta has right is the fascination with mobile/phone gaming. People moan like hell about replacing a 300UKP console more than every 4-5 years, yet I bet their phone contract is at least that PER YEAR, if not double. My last 2 iphones have cost more than my xbox and ps3 multiplied by 3. I am sick and tired of hearing this "graphics" debate too - I've been hearing it since the Amiga 600/1200 days. Better graphics = better immersion = more believable gameplay = better overall experience. It's absolutely bloody critical to keep pushing for better - and its nearly always older people who say otherwise. I'd love a new console every 3 yrs, so long as they didnt get lazy and start relying on the better hardware cycle (like they did on the PC)

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Sohereiam

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Well every end year is the same, there always a idiot who says things like "The end of retail", "The end of consoles". I guess this is something that will never change.

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calvinsora

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I just can't take people that say that seriously. Honestly, consoles are never leaving for at least the next few decades, mark my words. He underestimates people's desire to stay within the same rudiments that have been there for ages. And considering how many people I've heard and read that absolutely hate portable media, I'd say that's so far from reality that it borders on the delusional.

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lostn

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I think he's wrong. Some people like sitting back on their couch playing in front of a big screen TV. Mobile and facebook games don't do this, and the experiences on those systems are fundamentally different due to controls. Those games also tend to be more casual and based on short bursts, not 3 hour long sessions. CoD continues to make billions a year. As long as people continue to buy them, Activision will continue to make them. Who would want to play Call of Duty on an iphone with those crappy controls? Consoles will always be around.

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DuaneDog

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Because the 360 was quite successful, you can bet there will be a next-gen console. After that I would agree things are going to get more interesting. Looking out 8+ years I could see how a dedicated gaming device that hooks up to a TV with a disc format in the traditional sense may be displaced by powerful mobile devices that can play games on the go... but hook up to TV's or monitors and use a controller as well. Sure a company could make an ultra-powerful console that has 50 times the power as one today... but in a decade will a device with 10 times the power as a console today be just as acceptable if it can also be portable? Much like today many console gamers are happy with the fact they have far less power than a PC, in the future these console gamers maybe happy with a device that is far more powerful than today's consoles but looks nothing like what a console looks like today. I would like to believe that whatever evolves out of the obvious success of tablet and mobile and social gaming is only going to add to our choices... not take away from gaming like Skyrim or MW3.

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Sgthombre

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Yeah... sorry, Mr. Garriott. You're kind of... completely wrong. Social games are the things we do while wer are bored in class or have ten minutes to kill. I would never dream of spending hours and hours on a game. Look at Ultima, the game series you created. Those were hardcore RPGs that required dozens and dozens of hours to play through. They are nothing like the social games you claim are on the rise. Do you think the causual person would ever pick up a game like that? The gamer community, in general, despises people screaming about the death of consoles and the rise of iPod/Browser games. It won't happen.

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GetDaved

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He's just wrong, and we're not dealing with a guy who has known what will be big for gaming. Mobile gaming is only going to keep getting bigger and better but replacing dedicated consoles? In the next couple of years? I really doubt it. I doubt we'll see him on major consoles again, though.

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GamerYnoX

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This is BS, who doesn't like to sit in the couch and play on a big screen? He has no clue of what hes saying. Mobile and social gaming aren't complex enough on graphics and story to take over console/pc gaming. There will always be many people who like to play at home.

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commando1992

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Here's hoping this does -not- become the era of F2P social/casual garbage. Companies need to keep making real, quality games instead of trying to cater to a bunch of kids on Facebook.

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Dizzy1976

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I personally can't stand mobile gaming. Its nothing more than a distraction to our everyday lives. The controls are horrible compared to a handheld controller or a keyboard and mouse. Gaming should stay at home. I'm tired of having to yell at the younger generation at work because they can't focus on simple tasks without having to play with their phones and crap. We have even had to go as far as banning mobile devices on the production floor because its so much of a distraction. Not to mention information security. Mobile devices are seen as more of a hassle in my eyes. I'm not against gaming, in fact I love it and do it almost everyday after work. For the love off god just keep it at home......sheesh.

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200253559237274693305932310134

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Hmm... think of it this way. TVs are just becoming display devices. You can watch programmes on a "TV", PC, laptop, hand-held, etc. Factor in 4G and services like OnLive, maybe I partly agree with some of what he says. Personally I don't like the idea of OnLive, and nor am I a hand-held gamer. I like the idea of my own PC and console with CPU and GPU, with expansive and immersive gameplay experiences, but I expect the requirement for local processing will change.

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XIntoTheBlue

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Just because he made Ultima and his slew of crap following, doesn't mean he knows what he's talking about. Only way I'd use mobile devices for gaming is when I am travelling, which is not often. Otherwise, there is no need for them.

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so_hai

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You'll always need mains power to supply a gaming CPU - battery power cannot achieve what a console provides (and i'm not just talking visuals). Also, how can a portable device ever become a social experience for players? ever sat around and just watched a bit, played a bit, talked a bit? This can't happen with a portable device.

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Atheno

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Funny, all that I can think of when ever this guy, Lord Britsh, pops up A: How he was so shocked he got killed in Ultima as if he was a god or something, and B: How he made a space like MMO to make money, to go to space, and then let it die. I wouldn't take advice from this guy on how to be a good person and loyal person, let alone listen to his empty predictions only fueled by his false ego.

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cyraxkilawatt

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Many of my fellow gamers here said it best; it's just not going to happen. Console/Handheld are by far superior, No disrespect to Mr. Garriott but he is just flat-out wrong. Real Gamers such as us like our Consoles and always will, the gaming industry needs to ignore this temporary social gaming craze and focus on actual games with real content to them rather than just Farmville or Mafia Wars who appeal to a segment who don't know what real games are and will settle for anything that just passes the time.

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supermoogle

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This assumes social gaming takes marketcap away from console gaming which it does not. This is like saying cookies will soon not exist because macaroons are becoming really popular!

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dylan35

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YIKES!!!!!!

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dmdavenport

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Garriott's reasoning reminds me of the prediction that Television would doom the Movie Theater. And graphics are the strength of the consoles, not the flaw. Oh sure, playing angry birds on the bus is fun, but nobody looks forward to a weekend of it.

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moonlightwolf01

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I really can't see how he can think this is a boon for the industry. The major problem for developers right now is that all the big publishers, like EA and Activision are demanding their developers to do social and casual games because there's a wider audience for them. Trouble is if you keep chasing after wider and wider audiences you have to make more and more compromises in design resulting in bland simplified gameplay, this is why the majority of social games are just farmville clones. The great video games crash of the 1980's occurred because publishers were constantly forcing developers to produce games on a low budget with a very short development period. These low quality games flooded the market and caused people to loose faith in the industry, sales to plummeted and alot of companies went out of business. If you look at the flood of generic shooter's, copy-cat MMO's and dull facebook games that publishers are currently championing you can see the parallels. But we shouldn't despair because in the end the industry came out of it's last crash better and stronger so if it has another, we can hope it will turn out better in the end.

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James00715

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I think there could be crash in hardcore consoles, but I don't think they will go away. Casual games are really cheap but also a lot simpler. There are some people who are willing to pay more to get more. Maybe only PC will be left with digital download, but I kinda think consoles will still be around for awhile.

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mrboone01

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The only thing Garriott was right about in that "article" was about developers sadly making real content and story take a back burner to graphics. The rest of it just shows how out of touch with real gamers, not soccer moms playing Pogo.com, he's become.

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Double_Wide

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I don't understand why this simple concept is so hard to understand: Mobile/Social Games = Shallow, Console/Portable Games = In-depth gameing experience I think the real issue that none of these developers or analysts are talking about is how the rise of the "casual gamer", the shift in developers meeting their demands and flood of FPS are all killing the gaming industry.

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Darkman2007

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while I appreciate Richard Garriott's experience in the industry, I have to disagree with him , I would much rather play a console game , rather than a game on a mobile phone then again , the amount of people who would stick with consoles no matter what (who can mostly be put into the same "gaming as a hobby" group , aka hardcore gamers) , are not a huge fraction of the market, most people will just jump on any concept that is new and shiny, wheter its actually better or not so he isn't wrong from that perspective.

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Warlord_Irochi

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On a side note (and more directly personal): Sr. Garriot; stop saying nonsense and get back to "Ultima X"

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Warlord_Irochi

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Casual gamers: they are a lot, they buy one game per year, they will not buy a Wii U because "I already have the Wii and barely use it" Hardcore gamers: They are less, buy between 6 to 20 games per year, they'll buy a new console for sure. Casual and browser gaming is the biggest corporative bubble I have seen in years, Mr. Garriot is a great game creator, but seems to be a bit unaware of how the market is doing at the moment... honestly; saying that, just two weeks after the 360 had sold almost 1 million machines in one week is not knowing the real situation of the industry.

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pH347m3

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Consoles should never die.

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Reuwsaat

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Maybe his trip to space affected something in him. How can an old school dev say something like that? There is no such thing as "casual era", playing casual games isn't gaming, it's just occupying time. It succeeded this far because everyone owns a phone/smartphone/whatever today and want something to occupy their time in an effort to escape boredom. The same goes for facebook games; many people spend a long time in facebook everyday, and when it gets boring they will play something like farmville. About the graphics, it's just obvious that they will get better, and this "graphics outweighing game design" isn't a very accurate point of view; It's expected that the sequels will have better graphics, and if the game sucks in the end, it's not because of the graphics. Does he even know how a game is made? The graphics are handled by the designers solely, which doesn't, by any means, necessarily have something to do with the rest of the game. New games are lacking content? Yes, they are, but then again, the beauty of the graphics is due to the technology today, you can't tell if a game is good or not by the graphics.

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