EA founder says consoles will soon be a niche market

Trip Hawkins, the founder of Electronic Arts, thinks dedicated video game consoles will not remain mainstream for long. The industry figurehead, who also founded The 3DO Company and early mobile and social games developer Digital Chocolate, spoke with IGN about where he sees gaming going in the next few years.

“The console market is always going to be with us, because there’s always going to be a hardcore segment, a segment that likes innovation," Hawkins said. "But it’s going to become a smaller market, and it’s going to be more like a hobby market."

He used airplanes as an example: while many people use them to travel, only a small subset actually own and operate their own planes. He believes game consoles will soon be made for a similar niche market.

That being said, Hawkins believes video gaming itself will only grow in scope and relevance to people everywhere. He said players on two billion PCs, four billion mobile phones, and soon as many on tablets will be the new driving force for games at large.

“In the old days I’d go down to the basement to play Grand Theft Auto. But the Facebook gamer is able to play at work, at home, in a hotel on a PC. They can get access to a browser just about anywhere. People are thinking about convenience first.”


  • christian-shaffer - October 12, 2012 11:10 a.m.

    The problem is, he's put all different types of players into a single category. I'm sorry, but those that play farmville are not the same as those that spend hundreds of dollars for AAA titles. Facebook games are NOT the future of gaming. Not even remotely.
  • Redeater - October 12, 2012 11:26 a.m.

    "But it’s going to become a smaller market, and it’s going to be more like a hobby market." I already lived through that as a was called the 80's. I seriously doubt that gaming will revert back to that level since it has become so ridiculously mainstream.
  • tehtimeisnow - October 12, 2012 11:30 a.m.

    hes rite about this one. the ipohne made dedacated handhelds fall and thats y the 3ds and psp vita have been pretty much faleures and soon the ipad will take over consoesl. console gameing has seen a masseve decline in sales and ipad just keeps going up and up and up in sale. thats cuz poeple now realize they can get beter ganes on ipad for a very low price and its in super hd retena display and the thing can litterly do everyhitng from games to music to camera to web bowser to etc. with the milloins of aps the possebelities r endless. just face it console gameing and computer gameing is abuot to die out cuz the ipad is the new revelutionary step forward
  • BladedFalcon - October 12, 2012 11:42 a.m.

    Am I the only one that thinks he looks exactly like Andrew Ryan in that picture?
  • Mcfluffan - October 12, 2012 11:59 a.m.

    Well, Trip Hawkins rejects your answers. Instead, he chose something different. He chose the impossible. He chose... Farmville.
  • winner2 - October 13, 2012 8:55 a.m.

    Lol'd, comment of the day
  • mafyooz - October 12, 2012 12:26 p.m.

    I thought he looked like a bizarre hybrid of Andrew Ryan and Hugh Hefner
  • ParagonT - October 12, 2012 11:50 a.m.

    "He used airplanes as an example: while many people use them to travel, only a small subset actually own and operate their own planes. He believes game consoles will soon be made for a similar niche market." This is his reasoning? Where do I even start? That airplanes and landing privileges costs much more than consoles? I could go on... "They can get access to a browser just about anywhere. People are thinking about convenience first.”" Does he not realize that consoles are just dedicated gaming computers? And also, I wonder if he took into account of what percentage of PC users are on laptops? Because that is the mobile market for that which you would find in places, not towers, unless of course he is just stating that browser and low end games are the future. Then I would just call him crazy and ask why he thinks that those single divorced moms and seniors on facebook and myspace are the future of gaming? (Being snide at the end) Console's reign will end eventually, but they are in full swing at the moment because of their price and easy access for those with no clue about "technology". When more people become computer literate and can afford the jump, I think PC's era will start.
  • Viron - October 12, 2012 2:53 p.m.

    I can't believe you took the plane thing literally, the metaphor was about upkeep not similar costs.
  • ParagonT - October 12, 2012 7:04 p.m.

    Thats not really the point that I was making, It was just that he could have used a better metaphor. I think there's a large difference in talking about planes and consoles. Price and scale wise of course. I know that he was talking about services vs. console owning, thats obvious, but I think that its a pretty misleading metaphor is all I'm saying.
  • Stabby_Joe - October 12, 2012 12:34 p.m.

    I don't care what Andrew Ryan or any other developers say. Why is there this false notion that one has to exist at the expense of another, especially when consoles are still a multi-BILLION industry? I actually see a future of merging the two. While far from being so, the WiiU is an early example of this, a console that works as both a mobile device AND a home console. It's simple logic really, why would the sudden influx of new technology, game design and a growing mainstream audience be thrown out the window just because some play Farmville on the toilet every so often.
  • Z-man427 - October 12, 2012 12:45 p.m.

    In some ways, I think he MIGHT have a small, valid point, but thaat doesn't mean he's right. The industry is changing, but it's not getting smaller like he thinks it is. With more and more people turning to casual games, which eventually they might move on from, and home consoles being more and more like media hubs, it's foolish to think companies would kill that segment of the market.
  • Meleedragon27 - October 12, 2012 1:27 p.m.

    That airplane comparison is insane. There's a reason most people don't have planes of their own, and it sure as hell doesn't have to do with personal flying being a niche thing. As for consoles, I think as time progresses, companies will try to make them more and more like PCs until they pretty much are just that: PCs. It'll take a long time before that day comes, but with the way things are going, it'll happen eventually. I think so, anyway.
  • jackthemenace - October 12, 2012 2:26 p.m.

    Yeah, casual game shad better not be the future of gaming. Because if they are (and if any time-travellers are reading this, please let me know) I am going to kill myself now. If he DOES mean that gaming PCs are just going to win out, I don't see that happening- at least, not suddenly. Like Meleedragon said, I think it's much more likely that consoles will just slowly become more and more like PCs until teh only difference between the two will be whether you use a controller or not. The console market dying would be terrible for gaming, and it'd set it back a good while. Stopping production of consoles- even limiting it- would pretty much cull the gaming industry.
  • azureguy - October 12, 2012 2:31 p.m.

    According to other business guys from other video game companies, Free-2-Play and microtransactions will replace paid games, Multiplayer will make Singleplayer obsolete and Facebook will become the Alpha and Omega for gaming. Maybe all of this will happen someday, but not within the next 10 years, if at all. I admit that the F2P/in-game shop combo is more profitable than 60 bucks games, but that only really works for certian game genres and game concepts - it can't be applied to every single game. The other two points are utterly pointless anyway.
  • azureguy - October 12, 2012 2:36 p.m.

    Darn, totally forgot to mention the consoles. Oh well, at least I cleared up all the other current popular trends and believs. As a platform, consoles will of course cease to exist - if handhelds or small-budget PC sets gain the same processing power, of course video game-only gadgets will disappear. But the console games as such won't, simply because there are still people out there who want these long games and hardcore experiences. It won't be the biggest genre, yes, but it won't become a niche within the next 5 years at least.
  • codzprc - October 12, 2012 2:39 p.m.

    I'm starting to think EA is run by people that don't play video games.
  • MadMan - October 12, 2012 6:35 p.m.

    You are on to something...
  • JimmyP91 - October 12, 2012 2:57 p.m.

    Ummm Trip... the console/game market is already a niche market. It always has been and probably always will be. Niche doesn't mean small, niche means a select group. Dictionary Definition: A niche market is the subset of the market on which a specific product is focusing. Consoles are made and advertised primarily for gamers because they want to sell their products to gamers. For the most part, a person isn't going to buy a console unless he plans on using it to play games. In fact it's only recently that consoles have been trying to integrate other features into them (netflix, etc.) to attract people outside the gaming community to buy their products. Now will the console/gaming market shrink in the coming years? Perhaps but console gaming (and social gaming too) has always been a niche market (with social and console gaming being too different niche markets that aren't mutually exclusive). It's just been a niche market that's grown massively over the past decade and which has gotten mainstream exposure and recognition. Console/hardcore gaming ain't going away, it might evolve and the market may shrink but it ain't going away. Hardcore gaming companies make WAY more money off console and PC games than social gaming companies make off social games that in no way will the hardcore console market get replaced by social gaming.
  • chrisgid - October 12, 2012 4:22 p.m.

    I spent £1 on a mobile game the other day and got 5 minutes play out of it until it got boring. I spend £40 on (what I call a 'proper') game and I can get 100+ hours of play time, and still have fun playing it. Which will I pick 100% of the time? Console games of course. I find mobile gaming so hideously terrible, it may be more convenient, but does this guy really think that small casual games will push big named console & pc games out of the way?

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