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THQ: next-gen will be more crowded

And new tech won't focus on visuals.

Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony won't have the next generation of console hardware all to themselves, reckons THQ boss Brian Farrell.

Speaking at the GamesBeat conference in San Francisco earlier today, as reported by GamesIndustry.biz, Farrell predicted that the old guard will face stiff competition from the likes of Apple and Google.

"We believe Apple is going to be there, Google is going to be there," he said.

He added that he believed the next round of tech will focus on new ways for developers and publishers to interact with gamers, rather than just on improved visuals and additional processing muscle.

"Our view is that the next generation of consoles, if there are consoles, are going to be less about technology and more about service orientation of the gamer."

Farrell also addressed the future of the handheld market, painting a gloomy picture for Nintendo and Sony.

"The dedicated handheld market is going to find an audience, but it isn't going to be as broad because of the competition from other operating systems," he explained.

"What the market is telling us, is consumers want a very quickly consumable mobile experience; it doesn't necessarily have to be deep."

Nintendo's next system, the Wii U, is confirmed for release some time next year, with Microsoft and Sony also rumoured to be readying new hardware.