At the start of this gen there was talk that Consoles could kill PC gaming...next gen, will PC gaming kill the Console?
I've been a console gamer for a long time now, primarily because of console exclusives and if I've got a console...why bother upgrading my PC? To me, next gen isn't about MS vs Sony, it's about consoles vs PC, and the two biggest issues for me are powerful tech and compatibility/ownership. Frankly, if the next gen isn't fully backwards compatible, and digital purchases don't carry over in full, I'll probably still buy an Xbox, but I'll be waiting a lot longer until there are a number of must play exclusives, and all of my multi-platform purchases will move to PC. It's just too much money to have it all wiped away every generation (that's not an argument for stretching out the current outdated generation).
If there is full backwards compatibility and transfer of digital rights, I'll have enough unfinished content to justify a purchase on day 1 and it will be a no-brainer. If not, I won't be the only one thinking twice about what it means to lose all of your content every generation (sorry, keeping five+ consoles around is not a solution).
I have no faith in Sony at all considering their total failure to bring PS2 titles to PS3 (who would have thought at the start that MS would be the backwards compatibility king this gen?), PS3's architecture making next gen BC unlikely, the way they handled the PSP to Vita transition, and their failure to evolve PSN in general. And Nintendo...well, that's looking to be just the name of a future software company and extra analog stick accessories.
IMO, for consoles to survive more than one more generation, they have to go more the PC/Tablet route: get upgraded fairly regularly and maintain near-full compatibility so that whether or not you upgrade, you don't lose your purchases and you have access to most releases (games could be scaled to play on multiple generations of hardware). Otherwise consoles will be outdated a lot faster next gen than they were current gen - my fear is that money spent on the next gen will just be cash down the toilet hole. Consoles have to be a cheaper (or superior, which is unlikely) alternative to PCs or they die (or at the least lose relevance). And factoring in the cost of games and peripherals, I don't think consoles are really cheaper than PCs anymore. The most exciting next gen rumor so far has been the Steam console (and I haven't been a PC gamer since the PS2 was released).
To me, the handling of digital rights and backwards compatibility will be the answer to whether it's time to say goodbye to consoles, with the underlying question being how quickly they'll be outdated. Exclusives can change that, but they are artificial constraints; manufactured constraints (from always-online to patent litigation) hold gaming back plenty, but games will follow the money for the most part...