Monday, January 16, 2012

Gaikai remarks about next-gen consoles exaggerated beyond reason

Welcome back to my blog and welcome to 2012, a most interesting year in gaming. The year starts with the rumour that Sony or Microsoft will not compete in the next console generation and presumably leave the hardware market altogether.

An article by IndustryGamers cites comments made in a panel on the future of consoles.

Speaking during CES (...), Nanea Reeves, chief product officer for Gaikai, predicted, "Not all of the current console makers will have one more generation. That will be the big news at E3."

Reeves' comments can be understood better in the context of the entire session:

“Are we all in agreement that there will be a PS4 and there'll be an Xbox 720? And/or when is the console dead?” [panel host Mike] Vorhaus asked the panel. (...)

“I think some will have one more cycle and I think others will not,” said Reeves. “I think that will be the big news at E3. That's just my prediction.” “That's a very newsworthy opinion,” said Vorhaus. “Which of the three people are not going to have a next console?” “I'm not going to say which one, but I will predict that there will be one.” said Reeves. (...)

The panel ended with a provocative question: What will be the biggest surprises coming up for 2012? (...) Nanea Reeves, Gaikai: “I will go with the previous comment. I think one console will opt out of the next gen.” (...)

Mike Vorhaus, Magid Advisors: “I think Nintendo will be the one to do what you are suggesting [opt out of the next gen].”

I am very surprised that these comments have been spun into so many news stories, assuming Reeves has actual first-hand knowledge of either Microsoft or Sony bowing out of the hardware race. I am certain she doesn't. I called them up and they refused to elaborate on the story. It is clear, though, that they enjoy all the press coverage.

Ask yourself: Who is making these comments? Gaikai has a vested interest in talking up the death of gaming consoles - and understandably so. Steve Perlman, CEO of Gaikai's rival OnLive, told me in an interview in 2010 that this (meaning Wii, PS3 and Xbox360) was "probably the last generation." This is not news, this is PR. This is like Mercedes spreading rumours that the Japanese car industry is in big trouble.

Also, such comments are meant to be overstated. I have hosted a number of such panels myself and the point is to get the participants to make exaggerated statements which news outlets pick up on and which the community can discuss.

Besides, if any company really were to leave the hardware market they would not formally announce it at E3, because that would blatantly hurt their current-gen sales and third-party relations. They would refuse to comment for as long as possible.

So, rest assured that these comments are not worth your attention. Microsoft and Sony may, indeed, opt out of the hardware race. But Gaikai would not know about it any sooner than us. And, in my mind, we will eventually see another PlayStation and another Xbox competing with the Wii U.