Games consoles will soon become a thing of the past as the games industry embraces high-speed internet access and virtualised computing, according to a former vice president of Xbox Europe.
Sandy Duncan, who was with Microsoft for 15 years before co-founding YoYo Games, has given games consoles a lifespan of no more than a decade.
"The industry is fundamentally driven by technology. I think dedicated games devices, i.e. consoles and handhelds, will die [out] in the next five to 10 years," he told That VideoGame Blog.
"In fact, in five to 10 years I don't think you'll have any box at all under your TV. Most of this stuff will be virtualised as web services by your content provider."
Duncan maintained that there is little technological difference between some hard disc video recorders and an Xbox 360.
He added that companies will be wary of creating consoles for a market where "the business model is very risky and the costs associated with creating new hardware are incredibly high".
Duncan pointed to the emergence of cloud computing and the Xbox Live service, which already has around eight million members worldwide, as evidence that the console's days are numbered.
Meanwhile, sales forecasts of games consoles remain strong. Games publisher Electronic Arts recently estimated that sales of Wii consoles will reach 14 million units in Europe and North America this year.
Projected sales figures for Sony's PS3 also look healthy. Market watcher iSuppli predicts global sales of 10 million over 2003.