PlayStation 4 and Xbox One may be the last generation of gaming consoles as we know them. Emmett Shear, chief of streaming service Twitch, says that he would be surprised to see PlayStation 5 or Xbox Two arriving as pure gaming consoles. He says that, just like smartphones, the future gaming consoles will have to do a myriad of other tasks besides gaming.

gaming consoles
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Is the era of dedicated gaming hardware over?

So, a sensible solution for Microsoft and Sony would be to launch their next-gen consoles, likely to be called Xbox Two and PlayStation 5 respectively, in the form of set-top boxes. Speaking at The Guardian’s Changing Media Summit in London, he said the long life-cycle of gaming consoles is at odds with the rest of the consumer technology industry.

An average console has a lifespan of at least five years. Shear says maintaining long product cycles in the current scenario is not feasible. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Two might be designed for a multitude of uses, and with a shorter life cycle. He said he would be “surprised to see another generation” of gaming consoles. Shear is not the only one to make this claim. Geoffrey Zatkin, chief product officer at the gaming market research firm EEDAR, has predicted that PS4, Xbox One and Wii U would be the last generation of dedicated gaming hardware.

Sony may integrate VR into PlayStation 5

Both Sony and Microsoft will have to change the form. The trend is already visible in Xbox One, which users said was more like a set-top box than a dedicated gaming console. Advocating a much shorter upgrade cycle, the Twitch co-founder said that the gaming segment will look more like the smartphone market over time.

PlayStation 5 is unlikely to arrive anytime soon. But there have already been plenty of rumors about Sony’s next gaming device. A recent report suggests that it will put more emphasis on PlayStation Now service. The Japanese electronics major may also integrate its virtual reality headset Project Morpheus with PlayStation 5. Virtual reality could be central to the future of gaming culture.