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Epic's Tim Sweeney: Expect Game Platform Consolidation

From a consumer standpoint, there are too many competing platforms on the market. Yet for software publishers, this seems to be a good thing as customers purchase their products for more than one device. Who hasn't bought multiple copies of Angry Birds for both their smartphone and tablet? Heck, it's even available for purchase on the PC. That's three platforms right there.

But even developers like Epic Games sees that there are too many competing platforms, an "abundance of choice" with tablets, smartphones, consoles, new handhelds, the PC and Mac cluttering the tech market.

"This is too many platforms," said Epic CEO and technical director Tim Sweeney at the DICE 2012 summit in Las Vegas. "We're seeing now iPad sales have surpassed the sales of PCs. This is a real revelation, this is a product that wasn't invented until a few years ago and it's basically supplanting personal computers.

Sweeney predicts that eventually they'll all consolidate down into just three or four form factors in the technology market. "Over time these platforms will be whittled down to a competing set of platforms to maybe three winners worldwide across everything - computers, game platforms, smartphones," he said. "We should expect a lot of consolidation here and winners and losers according to who picks the right directions and executes successfully."

But even with fewer devices on the market, if that actually happens, a new generation of developers will be raised to use technology like Microsoft's Kinect or something similar for accurate human body inputs, and voice recognition such as Apple's Siri. Augmented reality, cloud computing and other tech will be natively under their belt, allowing for much richer experiences that really won't need more than three platforms.

"There are a lot of technical challenges," he said. "We've barely scratched the surface of the consumer implications, what we can do with an iPad or iPhone today is limited by our experience of our computers and history. When a whole new generation of kids is raised with these devices pervasively around us it's going to lead to entirely new worlds."

Hey, as long as a Matrix-style head jack doesn't become one of the "winning platforms," we'll be good to go.