Sony opted for off-the-shelf components for its upcoming PlayStation 4 in order to cut costs in a market which is likely to feature smaller installed bases going forward, former EA Play4Free evangelist Ben Cousins has told GamesIndustry International.
Cousins left EA's Easy Studio in March 2011 following the launch of Battlefield Play4Free. A few months later he was heading up Scattered Entertainment for mobile and tablet title The Drowning.
"The problem with the console model and certainly with the previous generation was that it needed the ultra-hardcore, the kids, and those kind of mid-core or whatever you it call it, mainstream gamers, to a buy a console in order to make a profit because it just needed massive volume," explained Cousins.
"It was interesting to see PS4 clearly go for what looks like cheaper hardware than last time around, so maybe that's a kind of defensive move against their expectation that they're not going to have the same install base, or maybe they just want to hit profitability quicker because of Sony's less stable financial state at the moment."
He concluded: "Maybe it's a selection bias, but most of the people I talk to and whose work I read are kind of in agreement...that this time around console install bases will be smaller. And probably will be focused more on that core audience. It's certainly not going to be kids and casual gamers buying consoles anymore I don't think, they're going to be all on mobile."
Whilst Cousins' argument that the casual and younger audience are now focused on mobile devices seems to stand up, new console launches – besides the Wii U – have typically targeted the core gamer and only years into the cycle after several price cuts has the younger and more casual market been engaged. Whether or not the PS4 will ever attract such an audience remains to be seen.