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Gaikai: Microsoft or Sony Leaving Next-Gen Console Race

Now the next-gen rumor mill is really starting to get a little juicy, as cloud platform provider Gaikai reports that one of the current console manufacturers does not have plans to partake in the next-generation console race. Who that will be should be relatively obvious given that Nintendo already has the Wii U exposed and flashing its goods to the general public, and Microsoft's leaked roadmap clearly shows another Windows 8-related Xbox in the works.

So who's left? Why that would be Sony, the very company who earlier today admitted that it will not show the PlayStation 4 console this year at E3. Reports last week suggested that both Microsoft and Sony would offer a brief glimpse at their next-generation hardware, but Sony consumer products head Kaz Hirai stated during a CES 2012 roundtable that no console will make an appearance at the June convention. Consider the PS4/E3 2012 rumor officially nuked.

But Sony pulling out of the console race altogether? That's seems a little far-fetched given that the company just churned out the touchy feely PlayStation Vita handheld console. Yet Nintendo and Microsoft clearly don't seem to have any kind of departure in the works, so that leaves Sony as the #1 quitter.

"Not all of the current console makers will have one more generation," Nanea Reeves, chief product officer for Gaikai, said during CES. "That will be the big news at E3."

One factor to point out is Hirai's comment about the PlayStation 3 and how it will have a ten-year lifespan. There's a good chance Sony may not produce another console until the PlayStation 3 is close to near-death. By then, the Xbox 720/Next/Loop will likely be out on the market, and the Nintendo Wii U will be saturated with lame 3rd party titles similar to those gracing the current Wii console. Players may be looking for something new by then.

Yet maybe, just maybe, Sony has no plans to launch another console at all, but will release something entirely different that will play games, play movies, use apps, rely on the cloud, pull in live network television, clean the house, cook dinner, wash the dirty kids and more. Ok, perhaps that's going a bit far, but you get the picture.

Sony may also fear Apple and its looming iTV mammoth, and plans to counter it with something that combines the best of consoles and smart TVs. This may be why Gaikai knows all about Sony's plans, and made that indirect comment about a console manufacturer dropping out, because Sony plans to stream games directly to the product much like LG is doing with its 2012 Cinema 3D TVs.

Something to think about, anyway. Maybe that will be the big E3 news: a completely new game-related product from Sony.