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A high-ranking ex-executive of Microsoft Corp. said in an interview that dedicated video game consoles will face their dusk in five to ten years time. But while the claim may sound strange, it should be observed that two out of three new-generation game systems come with robust multimedia capabilities and allow much more than just playing games. But maybe game systems will be even more dead in a decade from now?

“I think dedicated games devices i.e. consoles (and handhelds) will die [out] in the next 5 to 10 years. The business model is very risky and the costs associated with creating new hardware are incredibly high. There is a definite ‘convergence’ of other devices such as set top boxes. There’s hardly any technology difference between some hard disc video recorders and an Xbox 360 for example. In fact in 5 to 10 years I don’t think you’ll have any box at all under your TV, most of this stuff will be ‘virtualized’ as web services by your content provider,” said Sandy Duncan, chief executive of Yoyo games, who used to be regional vice president of Microsoft’s home and entertainment business unit in Europe five years ago, in an interview with Thatvideogameblog web-site.

In fact, many observers and analysts have been talking about online services as substitute for many currently used tools, in particular it was predicted that shortly it would be possible to edit office documents, watch movies, listen to music, play video games, share photos and perform many other things by only using the Web. While some predictions have turned out to be correct: we can listen to music with more or less decent quality and share photos without quality loss online, others are still dreams: it is impossible to stream high-definition movie via the Internet, whereas gamers have always complained about increased latency during online game play.

The amount and quality of Web-enabled features have increased noticeably in the recent years, however, this actually increased the number of devices used nowadays. Many end-users now use a couple of game consoles, a set-top-box, video disc player, audio disc player and many other devices that provide the same functionality. Even though all the mobile phones can show time, many people still wear watches. Nevertheless, the convergence is happening: Apple iPhone is very likely to be the future of Apple iPod, believes Mr. Duncan.

“Nowhere is convergence more likely to continue to happen than with mobile devices, just look at the iPhone and iPod touch and ask yourself if these will still be different devices in 2 years, never mind 5 or 10. The next generation of “handheld” devices will integrate game play with other technologies like GPS, digital cameras, high speed mobile broadband services at affordable prices and phones. [The] gating factor for almost all of this is battery technology. [Nothing] significant has happened here in the last 20 years, which means this is overdue,” said the chief exec of Yoyo games.

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