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2010: The year of the console?

By on January 5, 2010

How’s that for a reversal.

Ever since GAMESbrief launched at the start of 2009, I’ve been banging the drum for the way the games industry is changing.

I’ve blogged about Facebook games, web games, iPhone games. Even board games.

I’ve posted the first chapter of a book I’ve pitched called the The Death of the Console.

So if I declare that 2010 will be the year of the console, will you consider me to be shallow? Full of flim-flammary? Flip-flopping in the wind like John Kerry?

I hope not.

The battle is won

When I started GAMESbrief, the world of casual and social games was not yet mainstream. But in a year in which Farmville became the most popular game in the world, Playfish was acquired by Electronic Arts and VCs made social games investments left, right and centre, that is no longer the case. I no longer need to convince games executives that this web or browser-based gaming thing is not just a fad. It’s a real, multi-billion dollar business that represents the future of games.

But in 2010, we’re beginning to see some of the web-business models migrating to console. Apple has embraced the freemium business model allowing Lite games to sell virtual goods. Sony has brought a free-to-play massively-multiplayer-online game to PlayStation Home. And Electronic Arts continues to experiment with games like Battlefield Heroes.

So really, you don’t think the console is dying?

No, that’s not true. I still think it’s dying.

I just think it’s got a decade of life in it yet. The Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 (and even, in its boxed-product console guise, the PC) are still the best place for massive games like Modern Warfare 2.

And in 2010, I think we will see the console push back against the rise of web-based games. I think we’ll see games companies learning from the success of Zynga and Playfish, of Bigpoint and ngMoco. I think we’ll see more social connectivity in console games. I think we’ll see lower price points, more virtual goods and add-ons. Maybe even the first free to play game on a console (if you don’t count nDreams Xi and Outso’s Sodium One).

So I’m going to stop bashing the console industry. It’s dying, true, but so is every human on this planet. There’s plenty of life left in it – and us – yet.

In 2010, I’m going to chronicle, analyse and comment on the attempts by the games industry to change their console habits. I’m really looking forward to seeing what new ideas emerge from our most creative of industries.

(But don’t worry, I won’t stop blogging about all the new stuff I see in the iPhone  and web worlds that over 25,000 of you read about each month).

Subscribe now to follow me this year, and add your predictions for the year in the comments.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com