Are Consoles on the Short Track to Extinction?

Former Xbox Europe exec Sandy Duncan recently declared that consoles were a dying breed, due to disappear in a mere 5 to 10 years. At first, it's a laughable remark. I mean, consoles are insanely popular moneymakers, why would they disappear? Sure, physical media will be gone by the next generation, but don't you need a standardized set of hardware and controllers for developers to create games for?

Well, today that's true, but what Sandy was talking about was cluster computing, the idea that down the line, all the brainpower for game consoles will be located remotely. Consumers will have low-power local units that'll just hook up to a display, which a huge, beefy server farm will run the games themselves and pipe them to you over a high-speed internet connection.

It's certainly an interesting idea, as it would stop requiring people to upgrade their PCs with the hottest graphics card and would allow developers to create games as demanding as they're able to power. However, it seems to me that we might still be a bit far away from the bandwidth that would be required for such a setup.

Is super-high speed internet really going to be widespread enough in 5 years for us to ditch local consoles altogether? While I think this idea will take hold and become the norm eventually, I'd be shocked if we didn't have one more generation of high-powered consoles that eschewed physical media. It'll be a stepping stone generation, but with current console lifespans looking to be pretty long and the bandwidth requirements for cluster computing gaming still pretty steep, that whole idea seems to be 10 years away at the very least.

What do you guys think? Are consoles doomed, or do we have a good long time to wait before they become obsolete?

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[Reg Hardware and PC World]