One year after Nintendo's Wii U hit stores, Microsoft and Sony announced their eighth generation consoles -- just in time for industry insiders to declare the market sector dead. Even after removing its controversial connectivity requirements, mandatory Kinect integration and digital rights management (DRM) confusion, the Xbox One fell short of the expectations of both users and Microsoft, which designed it as an all-in-one entertainment bridge [sources: Microsoft; Orland]. PlayStation 4 debuted to mixed reviews as well, and that's important, because consoles might just be circling the bit bucket [sources: Lecher; Orland].
Sales and rentals of disc games dropped 21 percent in 2012, in part because the shape of the games industry has changed [source: Lecher]. We can now download games through online stores like Steam and cloud services like OnLive and play them on our portable devices. In response, game developers are breaking free of platform-specific coding, while hardware developers put out potentially console-killing devices like the Razer Edge Pro gaming tablet and the NVidia Shield. Such gadgets are portable, capable of downloading and streaming games and powerful enough to run graphics-intensive titles.
Of course, there's one thing that could save the Microsoft console -- and facilitate a 1984-esque future: The (terrifying) new Kinect, which Microsoft says is so accurate at reading your body movements and heart rate that it can read emotions. Pleasant dreams [source: Popular Science].