It's occurred to me that the conventional web may be on its way out.
My thinking has been sparked by the release of Nintendo’s Animal crossing. http://www.animal-crossing.com which is a cutesy MMORPG. It gives you a world to explore, mini games to play, and has a particular emphasis on making friends. The thing that strikes me is that the console is no longer a solo experience. The Wii has made it multi-player experience within the living room (the multiplayer family fun angle) and all three have made internet access core to their functionality.
I think it’s highly likely that we’ll see this trend continue: Since the launch of PS3, Wii and XBox 360 we've seen more and more games with online features. These latest gen consoles are heavily web-enabled. The games being produced for them are more and more being designed with online in mind: Halo 3 allows you to play co-operatively online (now replicated with many other games), Resistance 2 has dropped it's local co-operative campaign in favour of one that can be played locally but almost impossibly less you play online with other players to support you. Little Big Planet allows users to create levels that are shared freely with other users.
Few games are being made without at least an online death-match mode. Some games are being made without a single player mode at all; or emphasis on co-operative play (e.g. Army of two).
Hardware is coming out that lets the user interact online in easy ways, cameras, headsets, and of course USB allowing the use of keyboards to be plugged in from your sofa.
HD 1080p now means that a console’s resolution is adequate for text, and ideal for video and games as opposed to the comparatively tiny LCD computer screen.
Alternatives to Second Life e.g. Playstation home have yet to get off the ground but the power of a console means it’s more likely that users will be creating and interacting with game world content on a console than on a PC (let’s face it PC online worlds such as SecondLife and its competitors suck).
I doubt it’ll be long before we see more MMORPG’s being produced for the consoles, and perhaps some migrations – World Of Warcraft are just mad not to release a version for PS3 and Xbox.
The hard drives of these machines are so much bigger than previous generation machines allowing for frequent updates (expansion packs, downloading user-generated content, etc).
So what does it mean for the regular web? I think it means a decline in users accessing for fun via a PC. I think web and business will go together for a lot longer, but home users will become more and more likely to interact from their console or mobile than a conventional PC.
E-mail, social networking, gaming, video, video phones, shopping can and will more so be done from your console. Much of it will probably evolve; facebook will be replaced with a really great online 3D immersive world, conversations will be held using an avatar or cam as well as voice.
Users accessing more from a console than a PC of course will mean that content is controlled by the big companies, Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft , Activision, EA, etc.
Of course I may be wrong – but I know I’ll be switching on my PS3 before I switch on my PC tonight. And I know that many of you will be accessing your e-mails or reading this blog post from your phone rather than your PC.
Do you agree? What do you think it means for the web industry?