John Carmack in his yearly marathon keynote speech at QuakeCon 2013 on the future of everything, shared his expectations on the lifespan and future of consoles as we know them. The id Software co-founder shared some of his extensive thinking on the subject:
“I don't think there's going to be much of a push for another generation for a long time," Carmack said. "Really, we could be doing great, innovative work even on the current generation for many more years yet. It's not like anybody's seen everything that you could do."
"I'll be surprised if we see radically better games enabled because of the new capabilities on the consoles," he continued. "And, I've thought for a while we're now past the knee of the curve of the payoff benefit, so we're going to be definitely on the gradual sloping part of it going forward."
Carmack doesn't expect a next-gen consoles will be necessary until they can economically handle advanced graphic technology, like ray tracing, but who knows how far off this trade-off could be met.
"Whether we get something like cloud gaming owning large shares of the market before then," he said, "or people using both systems or you just play on your mobile phone and it shows up on whatever screen's near you, that could become [the] dominant gaming platform. But, a traditional next Xbox? Yeah, I think that's a long ways off, and there's a credible argument to be made that there may not be another console generation as we know it now."
Or maybe never, looking at the speed of mobile development it’s hard to currently imagine how consoles can continue as most of their advantages, performance and game exclusivity, keeps getting knocked down.