The ninth console generation sees the PS5 faceoff against the Xbox Series X/S for space in your living room. But this generation isn’t like previous generations where there is a box below your console and you play games on it. With services like Google Stadia, Amazon Luna and Microsoft’s xCloud, you really don’t need a box below the TV or even a state-of-the-art PC to play games. While these streaming apps have been available on Android smartphones or on the PC, in some form or the other, the one place they aren’t present is on the idiot box on your living room wall. While TVs in 2020 bring with them smart assistants and the ability to connect to the internet and stream content, the one app they lack are popular game streaming services. Even to run Stadia, a user needs a Chromecast. It looks like that is about to change.
In an interview with The Verge, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer, was asked, “What’s stopping you from saying, okay, Xbox is an app, it has minimum hardware specs, and we’re just going to run it on a smart TV?” To which Phil Spencer responded, “I think you’re going to see that in the next 12 months. I don’t think anything is going to stop us from doing that. I thought what you said about the TV was spot on. What we used to call a TV was a CRT that’s just throwing an image on the back of a piece of glass that I’m looking at. Now, as you said, a TV is really more of a game console stuffed behind a screen that has an app platform and a Bluetooth stack and a streaming capability. Is it really a TV anymore or is it just the form and function of the devices that we used to have around our TV, consolidated into the one big screen that I’m looking at?”
He says that one of the primary things a user uses a game console for is for streaming content from OTT platforms. The PS3 and Xbox 360 were the first consoles to get support for streaming services. Before that gaming consoles were just that – gaming consoles.
While game streaming has been portrayed as a threat to traditional consoles, in the interview Phil Spencer goes on to say, “I just push back a little bit on — this is not exactly what you said — that when streaming comes, all the consoles go away, or all my local devices that play video games go away. I’m not quite as sold on that. I think we just have to be nimble and watching what players want”.
“Streaming” your games locally is nothing new. Both Xbox and PlayStation let you stream your game to a smartphone, provided you are on the same Wi-Fi connection. So, if someone wants to watch the TV, you can continue gaming from your console on your smart device. With the growth in bandwidth and stable internet connections, one can consider streaming as an additional option to the hardware one has at home. In the PC space, there are many options like GeForce Now and Sony’s own PlayStation Now, giving users the option to stream and download games. With Game Pass available on a smart TV via an app, the barrier for entry will be lowered, especially for the price-conscious audience looking to dip their toes in console games.
Even on the Nintendo Switch, we have seen Control Ultimate Edition which is streamed rather than using the power of the console.
While streaming may be the future, devices like the Nintendo Switch have proven that people like to carry an uninterrupted console gaming experience with them on the go. The demand for the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S has also proven that the hardware sitting under your TV playing games isn’t going away anytime soon.