Twitch Co-Founder: Sony and Microsoft Need to Adapt to Survive

Twitch TV co-founder Emmett Shear thinks the eighth-generation of consoles will be the last. Not because the PS4 or Xbox One are bad, but because it takes too long for the next iterations of PlayStation and Xbox to launch. According to Shear, Sony and Microsoft need to re-think their approach to hardware if PlayStation and Xbox are to survive.

“The problem is, the seven-year upgrade lifecycle doesn’t work in the face of the two-year upgrade cycles for every other hardware platform,” Shear told The Guardian. “It’s so intrinsically built into how consoles get manufactured and made and the full business model, that I’d be surprised to see another generation.”

So what is the future? Shear suggests consoles should be more like set-top boxes akin to Roku and Apple TV. The hardware upgrade cycle would be similar to tablets and smartphones (i.e. iPhone 5 to iPhone 6 took two years).

“They’re going to have to change form. You can already see this on both Xbox and PlayStation where there’s a tighter upgrade loop for both the operating systems and the games. This is the first step toward being able to iterate the hardware platform. I could imagine a version 1.1 product from both Microsoft and Sony which adds in slightly more speed and slightly more memory very similar to how phones and tablets work today. I think it’s going to look more like the mobile phone market over time.”

Now don’t take Mr. Shear’s word that PS4 and Xbox One will be the last consoles. Predictions about the end of consoles have been floating around for years, including predictions that the seventh-generation (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii) would be the last. We obviously know that is not the case.