Sweeney: Console Market Is Going Through “Really Significant” Downturn, Youngsters Aren’t Into Consoles

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Jan 9, 2017
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Tim Sweeney, Founder of Epic Games, was featured in an interview published yesterday by Glixel. This time, the outspoken creator of the Unreal Engine did not focus much on Microsoft’s UWP (Universal Windows Platform) and its woes.

Sweeney talked about anything from the cultural impact of Virtual Reality (which he believes will revolutionize society in about twelve years from now) to the impact of mobile gaming with regards to the console market.

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According to him, sales data indicates youngsters just aren’t that much into consoles.

All of the retail console sales data this holiday season indicated that the console market is going through a really significant downturn. I don’t think it’s seasonal. I think what we’re really facing is that young new gamers aren’t going into consoles. And so there’s this audience of increasingly aged gamers like a lot of us at Epic, who are sticking with it – but some are dropping out. Ultimately, the games that you can get and watch continually improve over the course of many years are far more engaging and reliable than this model of releasing a new game every Christmas and trying to convince everybody to buy it again.
It’s going to be a real task for the colossal industry giants, who are currently retail console developers and publishers, to make the transition. I’m very thankful at Epic we recognized this coming about four years ago and now have Paragon operating and Fortnite coming soon and other projects in the works. It will be very hard for a company with a team of 1,000 people releasing new editions of a game every year to transition out of that and into a new model completely.

But it’s not just because of mobile platforms; Sweeney also reckons that young gamers are also leaning more towards PC gaming.

Young people are growing up in mobile. They’re playing games in different ways, usually shorter play sessions spread throughout the day. It’s not the kind of experience where you sit down for four hours and play a game. And the gamers who are getting into that are moving more and more into PC, I think.
PC is becoming a more convenient way of playing. And also these PC-centric games that are operated continually are becoming a bigger and bigger factor in hardcore gaming: League of Legends, Dota, Overwatch.
Another factor is that laptops don’t suck for gaming anymore. They’re actually pretty good. It’s a much more mobile device than a console that is always tethered to a TV. And what percentage of people have exclusive control of a TV all to themselves? If you’re in a family, you probably have competition with other people. A PC, by default, is yours.

I can definitely agree with the latter part, at least. I use a monitor for both PC and console gaming exactly to avoid the TV sharing issue I’m sure many are familiar with.

Sweeney also reiterated that’s a trend Epic Games foresaw a long time ago. The first Gears of War made around $100 million with a budget of just $12 million, while Gears of War: Judgment, the last one to be developed by Epic Games, made the same amount with a budget five times higher.

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Epic expected budgets to rise even more during current generation, while profit would stay the same. This prompted the company’s shift towards free-to-play games like Paragon, Fortnite and the likes.

While both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One sold well during the Holiday season, several AAA releases failed to meet expectations even when quality wasn’t lacking. A few examples are Titanfall 2, Dishonored 2 and even Call of Duty, so perhaps Sweeney’s claims aren’t completely unfounded.

We’ll cover all the future developments in the console market, so stay tuned for more.

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