orb
Congratulations! You're now a part of history ... or at least, a part of Alex St. John's alternate reality. Spend enough time with "the guy who talked Microsoft into the console business" and you might start seeing a big red countdown -- the kind that ends in KA-BOOM! -- tattooed on your gaming console, the UK's Telegraph reports. "I think we're looking at the last generation of consoles. There's not going to be an Xbox 720 or a PS4, I'll make that bet, not going to happen," St. John predicts.

Not surprisingly, St. John's grim prophecy doubles as a convincing plug for WildTangent's forthcoming virtual console: Orb. Orb will offer "enthusiast" games (BioShock and Assassin's Creed are two "possible" examples) for free on an ad-driven, session-by-session basis. In theory, this kind of digital platform could one day replace disc-based consoles, as it offers "free" gaming through an advertising model that consumers have accepted in other markets and cuts out the huge economic losses that console manufacturers can't seem to avoid (um, except for Nintendo!). "I'll take the heat if I'm wrong and don't mind being mocked in the future with people going 'Wow, was he wrong,'" St. John says of his market forecast, "But it doesn't happen to me very often."

This article was originally published on Joystiq.