Retail PC gaming in "dire straits" - Koster

Rumoured to be replacing Knopfler.

Raph Koster believes Flash games are spearheading the next-generation of games more than consoles, GamesIndustry.biz reports.

The Ultima Online and Star Wars: Galaxies designer was speaking at a private GDC lunch last week for important people, and suggested we had all underestimated the importance of the Flash format.

"I actually think Flash is the next-gen console in a lot of ways," said Koster. "It's pointing the way to the future more-so than the current generations of hardware, precisely because it is well on its way to becoming completely ubiquitous.

"There are more Flash installs available in people's homes and even on mobile devices than all of the sold consoles of the last two generations put together. It is everywhere," he added.

Koster admitted that technically Flash was no comparison to the power of home consoles, but pointed to its continual evolution down the videogame path as something to keep an eye on.

"[Flash games] are recapitulating everything we've done very, very quickly," continued Koster. "That's an upheaval because right now retail PC [gaming] is in dire straits.

"There are some exceptions, but overall you look at audience reach, quantity of games made and creativity of games, and the web is kicking the console industry's ass."

The strength of Flash is its ability to be played on a wide range of platforms, according to Koster, and he's been disappointed with the lack of support for it on so-called next-gen technology.

"Flash doesn't know what kind of device it's going to land on. If you have a phone capable enough, you can play fl0w on it," added Koster.

"It was actually very disappointing to me that I wasn't able to play fl0w through the Wii's web browser. And I had to buy fl0w because I couldn't play it through the PS3's browser because the version of Flash was too old."

PlayFirst boss John Welch had a similar future-vision of the gaming industry at GDC, where he predicted that casual games had the potential to turn the tables on the hardcore market and force it into a niche.

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