Tokyo (AFP)

A ninth generation of consoles is on the way, driven by the momentum towards video games that accompanied the pandemic and the containment measures, but the future of these machines is it assured while + gamers + are turning to other practices?

Presented in small touches for months, both versions of Sony's PlayStation 5 (PS5) and Microsoft's new Xbox Series X and S will go on sale between November 10 and 19, starting with the US giant.

Already, the day after a presentation from Sony, the pre-orders of PS5 are exhausted at a good number of distributors, a sign of the craze for "next-gen" consoles (new generation).

But also an indication of the ability of the Japanese manufacturer to combine inventory management and communication.

"When we look at the technical characteristics of the machines, we are on levels multiplied by 10 compared to the previous generation. We are going to have more beautiful, more real, more immersive games. We are going to take a hell of a slap", enthuses enthusiastically Charles-Louis Planade, video game expert at Midcap Partners, interviewed by AFP.

- No more "teraflops"?

The challenge for Sony is to exceed its own record of 110 million PS4s sold since the release of this previous generation in 2013.

"For Microsoft, the challenge is not to be left behind too much by Sony, or even to be on par with them," adds Mr. Planade.

Taking into account the growing number of players, "these objectives are achievable," said this analyst.

Still, the two consoles are launching as video gaming begins to shift away from expensive and bulky machines to on-demand subscription-based gaming experiences.

"This generation of consoles could well be the last physics. This is the last time we hear about teraflops", this unit of computer power, urges Audrey Leprince, co-founder of independent studio The Game Bakers.

The innovations in terms of game interface are, according to her, "rather anecdotal", and the development of games has not really changed.

On the other hand, "the pavement in the pond of this generation, it is the passage to the mode of subscription", which tends towards a "Netflix of the video game", affirms it.

Having become central, Microsoft's Game Pass or Sony's PlayStation Plus subscription offers "will completely revolutionize the industry, as has been the case with movies and music."

"The challenge for manufacturers is to keep a subscriber base that the challengers on the market cannot for the moment take from them" such as Google and Amazon, confirms Charles-Louis Planade.

- Cloud gaming

These two web giants are betting on streaming games (+ cloud gaming +) which makes it possible to overcome a machine by using remote servers.

In response, the new generation of consoles is intended to be a hybrid, allowing both to buy a physical game, to download it, or to play it in streaming with Microsoft's xCloud services and Sony's PlayStation Now.

"We are in a transitional phase which will bring together optical media and + cloud gaming +", explains to AFP Laurent Michaud, analyst specializing in the video game sector.

According to him, "Trends show that this will not be the last generation of console. For example, the image resolution must go from 4K to 8K (approximately 8,000 pixels wide) and networks, even in several years, will not be. not fast enough to transport these images. "

But as "technology is now bringing all manufacturers up to standard", the catalog of games - particularly rich at the end of the year - "will be, even more than in the past, fundamental to the success of this generation."

© 2020 AFP