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Consoles

Ubisoft CEO says the next generation of consoles could be the last

Yves Guillemot, who co-founded Ubisoft, believes that we only have one console generation left, before we all start streaming video games like we do TV, music and film.

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Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

My shelves are full of CDs caked with dust. Cracked covers, torn booklets. It has been an age since I've plucked a case from the shelf and put it in a CD player. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't -- I don't own a CD player. Now, I simply load up Spotify.

Digital killed the physical media star.

The future of gaming is looking in similar shape, at least according to Yves Guillemot, co-founder and current CEO of Ubisoft, one of the world's largest video game publishers.

In an interview with Variety on June 6, Guillemot said, "there will be one more console generation and then after that, we will be streaming, all of us."

That bold prediction rests on the idea that streaming video games will gradually become more and more accessible to players, eschewing the need for bulky consoles to sit under your TV at home. With developments to infrastructure -- such as the establishment of 5G networks -- and new technologies like Nvidia's GeForce Now offering viable ways to stream video games via the cloud, Guillemot might be onto something.

Our entertainment options are rapidly moving away from physical objects and into the digital space and video games are no different.

Microsoft's accessibility options have increased ever since they introduced Play Anywhere, a service which allows you to play your digital Xbox One games on Windows 10 and vice versa. It's begun experimenting in the space too, with its cloud services division leaning in on a range of gaming-related projects that it sees as a way to move the medium forward.

Phil Spencer, executive vice president of gaming for Microsoft, wants to make gaming as accessible as possible, telling Variety, "I care less that people play Minecraft on an Xbox One, but that people can play Minecraft no matter what console or device they have in front of them."

Nintendo have taken a different approach, last year releasing its hybrid console that can be docked at home and played on TV or taken out and played anywhere on the go. That line of thinking may be similar to its competitors, but it also locks people into its ecosystem.

Of course, there are also gaming platforms that we use every day: mobile phones. If the industry can deliver the same quality and depth as we see on consoles and PC to our mobile devices, it's basically game over for consoles.

"The fact that we will be able to stream those [AAA] games on mobile phones and television screens without a console is going to change a lot of the industry," Guillemot told Variety.

Fortnite, arguably the biggest game in the world right now, is already threatening to take over every screen that you can get eyes on -- a promising launch on iOS and upcoming Android release will surely see its popularity skyrocket further -- demonstrating that video games are making the move off consoles and onto devices that we can access anywhere, at any time.

We might still be another decade away from living on a planet devoid of home video game consoles. Yet the slow, steady shift toward a console-free world has already begun -- you only need to look to the palm of your hand to see that.

Tech Enabled: CNET chronicles tech's role in providing new kinds of accessibility. 

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