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EA founder: consoles will become a 'hobby market'

Consoles will be just for hardcore gamers in a few years, according to the founder of games publisher Electronic Arts.

Plenty has been said about how consoles need to change now every mobile phone is effectively a games machine, but when the founder of the world's largest games publisher has something to say on the matter, it's time to sit up and take notice.

In a recent interview with IGN, Trip Hawkins -- founder of EA and ex-colleague of Steve Jobs -- expounded on the changing face of gaming. He said consoles will become less mainstream as mobile- and browser-based action becomes more popular.

Hawkins doesn't think console gaming will die, though -- he just believes that it'll have to change to survive.

"The console market is always going to be with us, because there's always going to be a hardcore segment, a segment that likes innovation," he said. "But it's going to become a smaller market, and it's going to be more like a hobby market.

"You look at airplanes. Most of just want to be a passenger, but there's a hobby market for people who are really into aviation and want to take flying lessons and maybe someday have their own airplane. I think that's what's happening to the console market."

Hawkins noted the rise of alternative devices to play platform games on, and the advantages they have over consoles. "It's a trend towards mobile- and browser- and cloud-based games. You contrast that with what happens when you have to either purchase or download a specific app that runs native on a specific device and you only ever play it when you have that platform in front of you.

"In the old days I'd go down to the basement to play Grand Theft Auto. But the Facebook gamer is able to play at work, at home, in a hotel on a PC. They can get access to a browser just about anywhere. People are thinking about convenience first."

The rise of mobile games does seem to be taking its toll on traditional console companies like Nintendo, who can't compete on price. As phones become more powerful, with bigger screens, will consoles just be for the hardcore? Let me know what you think below, or on Facebook.