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.

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wishingW3L3018d ago (Edited 3018d 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.

GribbleGrunger3018d ago (Edited 3018d ago )

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%

vortis3018d 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.

GribbleGrunger3018d ago

Darn it. It should be around 35%, but the numbers speak for themselves

Bigpappy3018d ago

@vortis: console games sell at $60 a pop and are quite different from those found on iphone for 0-$10.

shutUpAndTakeMyMoney3018d ago (Edited 3018d ago )

what console game has sold 100 Million?

Drainage3017d ago (Edited 3017d ago )

actually that just means the consoles are 50% more susceptible to break or RROD or YLOD , stop reading discs , etc

sikbeta3017d ago


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.

AsimLeonheart3017d 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.

pixelsword3017d 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.

GribbleGrunger3017d ago (Edited 3017d 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

darthv723017d ago (Edited 3017d ago )

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.

DarkZane3017d ago

The Ps2 has sold more than 123 millions. They passed the 150 millions mark a few years ago.

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dedicatedtogamers3018d 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_toad3018d 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.

MikeMyers3018d ago (Edited 3018d 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?

barb_wire3017d 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.

KrimsonKody3017d ago

I loved Way of the Warrior!
I felt so badass owning that game.

darthv723017d ago

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.

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Godmars2903018d ago

Pity then that EA and the like didn't build for niche markets. Insisted on taking them mainstream.

LOGICWINS3018d ago (Edited 3018d 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.

ShaunCameron3018d ago

But how many of those smartphone/PC owners actually use them for gaming?

LOGICWINS3018d 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.

maniacmayhem3018d 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.

bubblebeam3017d ago

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)>

matgrowcott3017d 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...

KingOfOldSkool3017d 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.

matgrowcott3017d ago


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.

Dasteru3017d ago (Edited 3017d ago )

As of Aug 2012 there are 54m active users on Steam alone.

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mcstorm3017d 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.

grahf3017d 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.

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MariaHelFutura3018d ago (Edited 3018d ago )`s not like there is anything wrong with that.

LOGICWINS3018d 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.

KingOfOldSkool3017d 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.

pompombrum3018d 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.

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