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Exec sounds death knell for games consoles

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A former Xbox executive has boldly declared that dedicated games consoles, such as the Wii, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, will become technological relics within 10 years.

Sandy Duncan, who worked in Microsoft’s European Xbox division before leaving to co-found an online gaming business, recently said that “dedicated games devices…will die [out] in the next 5 to 10 years”.

He blamed the convergence of other devices, such as set-top boxes, as part of the reason why the console will pass away. But he added that games are being increasingly "virtualised" into web services, meaning nipping into HMV to pick-up the latest videogame could become a thing of the past as titles are accessed online instead.

High speed internet connections, Duncan claimed, will be the backbone of an infrastructure where videogames are delivered to the user without the need for a physical disc and console. He identified cloud computing structures or resources like Xbox Live, which already has around 8m members worldwide, as possible rivals to physical gaming units.

For the time being though, sales of games consoles remain strong. Last month, gaming megapublisher Electronic Arts said that the Wii will be the highest selling games console in Europe and North America this year, with combined sales of 12-14m.

Market watcher iSuppli has also forecast that 10m PS3 units will be sold globally during 2008, while the Xbox 360 will only sell around 7.5m.

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