Come 2021, there's "a pretty good chance that Apple will be the games industry," ex-Sony exec Phil Harrison told Edge Magazine when asked to peer into the future.

What's more, "free-to-play is going to become the defining business model of the next twenty years or so... depending on your level of fandom you will then either spend nothing or a very large amount of money to deepen your engagement."

The traditional model of using "a dedicated console...that you buy once" and "games that you buy at $60 or £40 a time" is "almost at the end of its life," he concluded.

The former head of SCE Worldwide Studios was with Sony for the launch of the PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable, and now sits on the advisory board for Gaikai, a cloud-based gaming company.

So for Gaikai, whose technology does all the hard work and streams games to web-enabled devices, be they tablets, laptops, or more traditional home-based hardware, it doesn't really matter who wins the tech war as long as browsers and broadband are up to scratch.

Harrison predicts that his former employers, along with Microsoft and Nintendo, will survive just fine. That's as long as they can prove adaptable to a platform-agnostic future in which hardware isn't as important as it once was.

Gaikai is still in a testing phase, with a few demos available for those whose web connections are fast enough - the website silently measures users' bandwidth and, if it passes muster, starts up a demo after a minute or two.

One of its main competitors, OnLive, has a foot in both console and console-less camps.

Subscribers can stream full retail games to their Mac or PC or, using the OnLive micro-console and controller, direct to their TV.

Phil Harrison talks to Edge Magazine: