ning a future in the games retail trade. The price of streaming services in comparison to actual continuous purchasing of physical media is cheaper too. Our media technologies are converging, our phones are becoming mobile PCs, our PCs are becoming our televisions and our consoles are becoming all round home entertainment centres. Try to find an MP3 player the next time you’re shopping, and not a device that also plays MP3s, just a bog standard MP3 player. You’ll find that it’s hard to do because everything has to sync with everything else these days. Any internet connection comes with access to free (Youtube) or cheap (Netflix) streaming services and now most media devices in the western world are internet capable. Free- to-use Wi-Fi networks are spreading across the western world, even my own rain-soaked corner of the world is getting one. The cultural shift to gaming through devices such as smart phones is also having a massive effect. Nintendo recently released figures suggesting that smart phones have as much as halved the potential market for dedicated mobile gaming hardware. The convergence of media distribution is by no means a recent development; I can already stream media through most of the devices I own, although there is still a gap between their capabilities. The near future is going to see people not buying games at all but subscribing to them through a streaming service, most likely bundled with a phone package and a cable TV package, routed through
their phone or tablet devices. The hardware capabilities of these devices are increasing rapidly to allow bigger and better games to be played. Some are already ahead of the current crop of consoles component wise. The OUYA console, due to be released next year, is a massive step towards that future, a tiny console that sits beside your television and lets you access thousands of free-to-play products currently only available to PC users as well as many media services and some products designed specifically for the console, sort of a set top box for gamers. (See the “Shinkicking Giants” article elsewhere in this issue of The Gazebo for more details.)
The near future is going to see people not buying games at all but subscribing to them through a streaming service.”
Media retail chains who want a future have two options, move digital or move east, there are 125 million Arabs under 25 eager to get their hands on the latest consoles and accessories with no brand history, the infrastructure there is not ready for full online services. There are also much fewer restrictions than the largest potential market China has on businesses coming in. Eventually, however, they will
inevitably catch up technologically and the media retail sector will have to move on, a nomadic industry moving to where poverty is most rife, constantly displaced by digital distribution until it has nowhere left to go.
The Gazebo is a free, quarterly e-zine dedicated to gaming in the UK and Ireland.