We could be in for some very big changes in the game industry. It may take a few years but that's sort of like an eye-blink in the bigger picture.
EA has taken some flak from investors for "not making enough money" and focusing too much on unproven markets and new IPs. Now, EA says they're learning as they go and if console makers aren't careful, the next generation of hardware may be threatened by the free-to-play model . In speaking at the London Games Conference, MD of EA's free-to-play Easy division, Ben Cousens, said that consumer behavior is dictating things right now and "within two to five years, the market is going to be seriously disrupted." Basically, publishers like EA have to figure out how to "grab the TV screen away from the console manufacturers and use new technology to break down the barriers to gamers." Free-to-play will result in consumers questioning the need for another console, and Cousens believes console makers will be forced to open up their closed platforms. "Anyone who thinks in terms of walled gardens is in trouble," he said, pointing at the closed nature of current platforms like the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live.
Cousens adds that the market is changing extremely fast, and that "there is a gap large enough for a shift as big as the original PlayStation." Maybe a new console would feature Google TV or Apple TV, or boast something that acts as an open platform for online web-based gaming via free-to-play. Who knows? But it'll certainly be interesting to watch.