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Submitted by Relientk77 807d ago | interview

EA Founder Says Consoles are Niche

IGN - Trip Hawkins tells IGN that games machines are becoming “a hobby business”.

Trip Hawkins believes that console gaming is destined to be niche, a wonkish hobbyist’s enthusiasm, a sliver of the great global games market. Why is this important? Because of who Trip is, or at least, who he was. (EA, PS3, Trip Hawkins, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360)

wishingW3L  +   807d ago
I kind of agree with this. As much as I like consoles the casual market is getting too big and now those kind of gamers can get that light gaming experience basically everywhere which would reduce the total hardware sales of consoles.
#1 (Edited 807d ago ) | Agree(7) | Disagree(32) | Report | Reply
GribbleGrunger  +   807d ago | Well said
A hell of a lot more consoles sold this generation than last generation, so how does that work then?

Wii: 97 million
360: 69 million
PS3: 67 million

total: 258 million

...and during that time the PS2 has shifted another 25 million.

PS2: 123 million
Xbox: 24 million
Gamecube: 21 million
Dreamcast: 10 million

total: 178 million

I think you'll find the market has grown by about 50%
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vortis  +   807d ago
That's his point.

The consoles may have sold a lot but look at how core games sell compared to those numbers.

You're lucky if you can get the average retail release to move a 1 million in a month across all three consoles. Only the really huge heavy hitters that have "broadly appealing" features hit the CoD type numbers.
GribbleGrunger  +   807d ago
Darn it. It should be around 35%, but the numbers speak for themselves
Bigpappy  +   807d ago
@vortis: console games sell at $60 a pop and are quite different from those found on iphone for 0-$10.
@GribbleGrunger
what console game has sold 100 Million?
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Drainage  +   807d ago
actually that just means the consoles are 50% more susceptible to break or RROD or YLOD , stop reading discs , etc
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sikbeta  +   807d ago
@vortis

Problem is not hardware, it's the price of the software and the bloated amount of games released in the same period

The first quarter of 2013 is totally packed with games that avoided competing with the big amount of games that will be released this November + December.
AsimLeonheart  +   807d ago
Console gaming has grown, it is just that casual gaming has grown even more because of mobile technologies. However, I do not think calling console gaming a niche is right. It is not very small or appeals to only a few people and it is not shrinking either. Console gaming provides a different experience than casual gaming and you can never get the same experience in mobile touch devices. It is just not the same immersive experience without a controller. I also play angry birds from time to time on phone but it does not means I do not want to play Uncharted, Metal Gear and Resident Evil any more. They are two different kinds of gaming and hardcore gamers will always keep console gamins as a sizeable market. Casual gaming can grow all it wants but it does not means it is convincing hardcore gamers to sell their consoles and start playing angry birds and fruit ninja.
pixelsword  +   807d ago
Heh, he's sort of correct, but sort of wrong.

There are ways of boosting sales, but not by how games have done it in the past.
GribbleGrunger  +   807d ago
There are two reasons that software sales have gone down and it's not because consoles are a niche market.

1/ Casual don't buy many games. Most of them buy the console and play it very seldom. There has been a huge push for the casual market this gen with the Wii, Kinect and MOVE.

2/ AAA Games are becoming more and more generic. By making certain genres fashionable, the devs have narrowed the playing field. This has forced more devs to follow suit and saturate certain genres. This of course then leads to less sales by default.

The solution? Developers need to look to the future for profit and not think they should obtain it immediately. They need to take risks and broaden the choice so that fewer dev teams compete in the same space.

Sony know this. It's not about sales now, it's about respect later. And of course you can't ignore that some developers are very greedy
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darthv72  +   806d ago
"Consoles are niche"....interesting
coming from a guy who's company gained their greatest distribution via consoles.

Thanks in part to consoles like the Genesis and SNES, EA went on to greater achievements in such franchises as Need for speed and the various sports titles they make. Especially the Madden series.

Just because time has passed and we are seeing a surge in the social gaming world does not mean the console generation is coming to an end. It is just another transition from one form to another.
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DarkZane  +   806d ago
The Ps2 has sold more than 123 millions. They passed the 150 millions mark a few years ago.
dedicatedtogamers  +   807d ago
Trip Hawkins was also the guy who thought the NES was a "fad" and he refused to publish Electronic Arts' games on it. It wasn't until the shareholders at EA literally FORCED him to to it that EA finally began putting their games on the NES.

Trip Hawkins has a track record of being an ignorant blowhard. Ignoring him would be your best bet.
camel_toad  +   807d ago
Don't forget the 3DO was his idea too. One of the most expensive consoles ever that ended in failure. It had nice graphics but most of its games were crap.
MikeMyers  +   807d ago
The 3DO had little software support and was way too expensive, if anything that system many years ago was more niche than any of the current consoles today.

How does something that still literally sells multi-millions of units per year count as niche? Just because there are now billions of people who play Solitaire on the PC or Angry Birds on non-console devices doesn't mean consoles have become niche. You also have to view who funds the industry the most? Those who buy one dollar games once in awhile and play for 15 minutes a few times a week or those who buy a few $60 games per month and spends far more time playing? Yes you can attract more people with smaller pieces of software that has low development overhead that's priced for bulk buyers, but is that the market that should now be the focus?
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barb_wire  +   807d ago
@ camel_toad..

I agree with what you said BUT I guess you never played 'Return Fire','Road Rash' or 'Need for Speed' on the 3DO.. cause those games were awesome.
KrimsonKody  +   807d ago
I loved Way of the Warrior!
I felt so badass owning that game.
darthv72  +   806d ago
I will come to the 3DO defense...
In all honesty, the pricing was set by Matsushita/panasonic. Not the 3DO company themselves. Obviously Panasonic saw it more as one of their higher profile electronic devices so they priced it accordingly.

From the games and entertainment value side, it had much to offer. I think it was even Trip that approached Panasonic suggesting they cut the price to be taken seriously in the competitive console market at the time.

Its one of those, a good idea marred by bad upper management decision making sort of things. Its easy for anyone who has never owned or even played a 3DO game to say the platform wasnt worth it.

I'd agree that it wasnt worth the price they asked but the platform was definitely worth owning. Lots of original titles and showed some really good creativity back in the day.

i highly suggest people find one and get some of the games like Gex or Captain Quazar or even the really good SSF2Turbo or Samurai showdown conversion.
Godmars290  +   807d ago
Pity then that EA and the like didn't build for niche markets. Insisted on taking them mainstream.
LOGICWINS  +   807d ago
Yeah, eventually mobile/PC gaming will takeover the gaming industry for simple fact that everyone has a smartphone/PC these days. It's basic logic. The PC market is bigger than that of the PS3/360/Wii/Vita/DS/3DS combined. Same deal with the smartphone market.

Really the only thing holding PC gaming back is the misconception that you need to spend thousands of dollars to play your games on high settings.

Publishers will always want to cater to the biggest markets out there...hence adding multiplayer to Dead Space 3/Mass Effect 3 in order to appeal to more consumers. The proof is in the pudding.
#3 (Edited 807d ago ) | Agree(6) | Disagree(19) | Report | Reply
ShaunCameron  +   807d ago
But how many of those smartphone/PC owners actually use them for gaming?
LOGICWINS  +   807d ago
In one word: MOST

The issue when arguing this is that hardcore elitists who use gaming to vent out their personal frustrations(instead of as a form of entertainment) want to put themselves on a pedestal by placing standards/restrictions on who can be called a "gamer" and who cannot.

For people like this, people who play Angry Birds/Farmville on occasion aren't gamers...even though technically they are. My dad(nearly 60) plays Bouncing Balls from time to time and I have no problem considering him to be a gamer.
maniacmayhem  +   807d ago
"Yeah, eventually mobile/PC gaming will takeover the gaming industry for simple fact that everyone has a smartphone/PC these days."

I kind of agree but I think mobile and PC will be supported and pushed more only because they are cheaper to develop for. We already see a lot of companies plus industry vets either leaving consoles or investing heavy in mobile/pc.

MS, Sony and Nintendo really need to lighten up on their restrictions and costs for advertising on their console. Also having companies pay for patches and DLC. Not to mention the very long and costly QA/submission process each of these companies require for content from 3rd parties.
bubblebeam  +   807d ago
@Logic
Disagree.
@Shaun
Hit the nail on the head.

I'm sure, out of the hundreds of millions of PC's being used today, A small percenatge of them will be for games.

My granny uses a laptop, does she game? No
My mother uses one, so does my father. Do they? No.

Consoles will always have a market, they just need to think of a way to keep them more relevant, especially later in a consoles life when new technology comes, they need to find a way to embrace it (maybe by adding a new model or firmware)>
matgrowcott  +   807d ago
You're wrong on both accounts, I think. For a start, there's no way of knowing how many PC owners - across multiple OS - use their PC for gaming. My guess is that it's more than you think, with Facebook pushing it constantly. The only way you can say that only a small percentage use them for games is if you move the goal post on what you class as a game. Sure, the people who use Steam are going to be a relative minority, but the people who play games on Facebook or flash sites is going to much, much higher.

I also think it's a little short-sighted to say consoles will always have a market. Even this generation we've seen that consoles have become "more PC" in the variety of things we expect them to do. If Steam announced a "console," a pre-built PC capable of at least medium settings on the majority of games, with a Big Picture OS and easy upgrades, at a decent price, it would smash the current way we look at consoles.

It's all about definition. That Steam console might only be able to play Steam games, but it wouldn't technically be a console as we see it...
KingOfOldSkool  +   807d ago
Consoles will continue to have a market because they have been far more flexible over the years than many give them credit for. Today's console is much different than those 10-15 years ago, staying relevant in the process. There are too many that assume the console model will all of a sudden stagnate despite a long history to the contrary.

@matgrowcott - Fixed hardware + closed platform = 'technically' a console, at that point the main difference between a Steam box and the soon to be last gen consoles would the method of game distribution and DRM. It's easy to label someone else as being "short-sighted" when judging with such a narrow scope.
matgrowcott  +   807d ago
@KingOfOldSchool

When does a console stop being a console then? If the Big Picture OS machine allows you to edit photos, write manuscripts, create videos, play games, upgrade hardware, calling it a console would be a stretch, but calling it a fully functioned PC would also be a stretch.

If that's a console, then what's the NES?

Consoles as we know them will not always have a market, and that will become more obvious over the next couple of generations. These will have to be replaced either by more powerful handheld devices or semi-PCs. All it takes is for somebody - and I say Steam because it seems like it'll be then - to announce something that breaks the mould.
Dasteru  +   806d ago
As of Aug 2012 there are 54m active users on Steam alone.
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mcstorm  +   807d ago
I disagree. I think cloud gaming will take over consoles and pc's. I see you being able to log into your online account on your home media box, tablet, mobile device and play your game from there.

One good thing about home consoles is it getting bigger and bigger look at this gens sales and also look at the 3DS sales.

Consoles will not go for another 20 years but I do think cloud gaming is the way it will go.
grahf  +   806d ago
PC gaming is the niche/hobbyist market. Its not money that's holding most people back... its the time & knowledge on how to PROPERLY build one out, and then maintain and upgrade accordingly.

I love the PC enthusiast crowd. I just don't want to be included. Give me my consoles & live and let live.
MariaHelFutura  +   807d ago
.....it`s not like there is anything wrong with that.
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LOGICWINS  +   807d ago
No one said there was. All that was said is that the hardcore market will get smaller and smaller. And its true. Look at total Wii sales compared to that of the PS3/360.
KingOfOldSkool  +   807d ago
I disagree with the notion that the 'hardcore' market will automatically grow smaller simply because the casual market is growing larger.. the overall pie got bigger, not cut into smaller pieces.

Far more often than not games geared towards either group fill entirely different needs that would not negate the need for the other. More people playing Angry Birds on the go does not equal less people playing Call of Duty at home, I have yet to see a plausible argument that makes a connection between the two that doesn't heavily rely indirect numbers and trends.
aiBreeze  +   807d ago
Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't a game from that so called niche currently hold the record for most sucessful entertainment launch? When you think of all the mainstream movies that come out each year including huge names, that doesn't sound very niche to me.
MrDead  +   807d ago
maybe he said nice in a Dutch accent
BitbyDeath  +   807d ago
Maybe they are but they are loyal and will continue buying games at any rate unlike the casual mobile/facebook crowd which could flip at anytime.
ElementX  +   807d ago
I hope it becomes niche again. The market has become too large. Sure you hear about massive console sales but when you look at the numbers, the best games only sell a few million. What happened to the other console owners? How many spoiled children are there ruining online gaming? How much shovelware is produced just because there's now an audience for it? How many people only play sports games and never dabble in the finer genres? I say limit the number of units available. Not everybody has to have one. Make it an elite business again.
GraveLord  +   807d ago
Far from it. It's more mainstream than its ever been. Gaming is cool now. It's socially acceptable to play Call of Duty and FIFA. We've come a long way since the 90s.
ElementX  +   807d ago
I was gaming in the 80s and it was socially acceptable. What about all those arcades that used to exist? Gaming has always been popular.
thebudgetgamer  +   807d ago
That's also the major problem when it comes to throwing a lot of money at casual gamers, they decide to move on to the next thing and all those arcades go bust and almost the whole industry.
dennett316  +   806d ago
Popular is not the same as mainstream. Gaming is more mainstream than it's ever been, but it's still not accepted by most. The image of games as for kids or basement dwelling nerds is still, unfortunately prevalent and there's a long way to go until gaming is fully embraced by the mainstream.
How many gaming shows are there on major networks? Gaming almost never makes the news unless it's being linked to a crime.
MasterD919  +   807d ago
Wrong again EA. Look at Origin and how many people loath that service.

Consoles go hand and hand with gaming. Yes, we're in uncharted territory now in regards to digital platforms and downloads, but I think consoles will always have the upper hand. Convenience, brand loyalty and user experience are strong reasons why consoles remain strong in the market.
forestfrog  +   807d ago
Console gamer since nes, owned every console and handheld, just sold last console, strictly vita baby, strictly s3 baby
nevin1  +   807d ago
@gribblegrunger

In the future, what type of games we will see the most?

casual or core?

I mean you listed the Wii has sold 97m. But the software is mostly describe has shovelware or casual.
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CrzyFooL  +   807d ago
I'm a PC gamer and that statement is retarded.
kevnb  +   807d ago
He's right, the top consoles only sell around 100 million total. Some casual mobile and PC games have had similar numbers.
IWentBrokeForGaming  +   807d ago
Then let's take the Niche from EA and see them go strong for several more years!
AO1JMM  +   807d ago
Trip you are Trippin
supergravity  +   807d ago
Mr. Hawkins comments might be a function of his new companies leanings more than the future-reality of gaming. He's trying to make his new "baby" make more sense to potential investors. I think the numbers speak for themselves, I'm sure we'll continue to hear this, kind of like videogames aren't art, the numbers grow every year for those that find art in the games they play, and the games are being played by more people on Earth than ever before this industry isn't going to do anything, but grow. It's pretty natural this late in a cycle to see downturn, the overall growth is up. It will continue. I've been a gamer since the Atari 2600 with the woodgrain, a controller (joystick) was necessary then just as it is today. The niche is motion control, and I get the diversion, I've got the Move, but it's just that for games a diversion, a novelty. Without dexterous controls most games aren't as good, there's only so much you can do with tablet/smartphone screens, Move, and Kinect.
360ICE  +   807d ago
Every time one of these articles come up, I just want to say the following:

The demand for the functions that consoles perform will not go away. But will the format of consoles change or merge with other platforms to adapt? Possibly. 10 years ago you'd have a GPS, a a radio, a Mp3 player and a phone. Now you have a phone that does all these things. The tablet is a great way to show how genres are meeting and merging. I think we'll probably see TV based technology fulfill a lot of the same functions a PC does today. Hence, PC and console might become more of the same thing.
Sugreev2001  +   807d ago
Trip Hawkins may be the founder of EA,but not Electronic Arts in it's current form.He left EA long,long ago and had a hand in disasters like 3DO.Anyway,this guy has been head of a casual gaming for ages now,so his opinion means little when he doesn't even make games for the hardcore market.
KrimsonKody  +   806d ago
I think consoles will never cease.
They're designated video game consoles.
As long as consoles remain to be computerized devices, they will always evolve along with technology.

& I heard someone mention earlier "how many stuff can a console have before its no longer an console?"
Well, I say;
how many things can a cellphone have before its no longer a cellphone?
People got tired of just making calls on their phones, they demanded a way to "write", we got texting.
Then games
Then news & emails
Then internet, etc.

Technology is our future, & as long as devices are computerized, then they can evolve into whatever they desire. What it will evolve into depends on the demands of what those consumers want.
A small example;
First, we had digital picture frames
Then came the picture/video frames
Now they have picture/video frames with wi-fi to grab local weather reports & alarm clocks.
ChunkyLover53  +   806d ago
People always look at the Sega Genesis and SNES as a great time in consoles and console sales, but those sales paled in comparison to what we have now, although I do believe consoles will sell less next generation, we probably won't see 100 million units pushed from a single console, but we'll see 50, 60 and 70 million.
koehler83  +   806d ago
While there's logic to the argument that consoles are niche, the argument is about as valid with any and all types of video game specific hardware and even video games in general. The term niche is a loaded term. One could argue that any given Apple product is also a niche product by the same token. Everything can be described as a niche product with the exception of water.
spektical  +   806d ago
I'm pretty fed up with these articles that hint or even blatantly call smart phone games as the future for gaming.

There are so limitations on phones, most importantly the lack of decent battery life. And dont expect to get better anytime soon, power optimization sees the slowest growth next to HDD disk r/w speed. The lack of buttons and the fact that core games should not rely on the functionality of rotating a screen. These gimmicks are just that. Novelties that wear off, and detrimental to the core gaming experience.

To hell with these people. Let them play shoddy smartphone app games, and leave the AAA games to real gamers.
ajax17  +   806d ago
Yeah, and you founded one of the most despised companies. Consoles will never be reduced to a niche market. Obviously because they can do so much more than just play games. Consoles are where the innovation is too. Just look at Kinect.
Clarence  +   806d ago
Funny console games sell far more than their pc counter parts. Which means he makes most of his money from consoles.
profgerbik  +   806d ago
Who cares what EA thinks? Seriously.
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Pillsbury1  +   806d ago
Their is a reason why EA is rated the worst company.
yewles1  +   806d ago
Of course he's going to say that, considering his PoV consists of his experience with the 3DO, which was $700, and the M2, which got canned by Matsushita before it would launch at $999...
Amsterdamsters  +   806d ago
Consoles are a niche market if your name is Trip Hawkins and you try to compete with the likes of Nintendo & Sega with the flop that was known as 3D0. I did buy one early on and loved Road Rash on it, but the system was WAY too expensive to be in anything but a niche market....
dennett316  +   806d ago
People need mobile phones and occasionally download some free puff game like Angry Birds or some puzzle title...doesn't really make them gamers or their phone a gaming platform.

It's a TYPE of gaming, and one that is popular, but I really don't think that mobile gaming of that type has ever taken a sale from a dedicated console.

People have been arguing the death of handhelds like the 3DS for years and years since smartphone gaming broke onto the scene. But despite the rise of those downloads, sales of the 3DS console have exceeded that of the GBA and DS at the same point in their lives despite the increased so-called competition. The markets are separate, I truly believe that. If people want serious handheld games, they get them on dedicated handheld consoles.

Smartphone gaming is a by product of people wanting to own a phone...people don't search out those phones purely for the games.

As for consoles being niche, as someone pointed out above, more consoles have sold this generation than the one previously. More and more people are getting gaming PC's, and yet the consoles still thrive. Consoles are the main focus of most of the big name publishers still, with the PC really only outdoing console in traditional PC staples like strategy sims and the like, and indie development through Steam. And even the indie scene on consoles is starting to thrive now.
Consoles are also where the innovation in how we play games is coming - Nintendo with it's focusing on offering different multiplayer experiences with it's different controllers, MS with it's possible pushing of augmented reality, and even something as basic as motion controls. All were dabbled with before, but console makers are pushing the technology and actually integrating it on a wider level.
I think Trip Hawkins has it wrong....again.

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