Microsoft Corp.’s and Sony Corp.’s new game consoles will both ship in selected markets during the 2013 holiday season. Keeping in mind that Nintendo Wii U is considerably behind both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in terms of gaming experience and game quality, consoles from Microsoft and Sony will sell well. However, the whole next-generation will be less successful than the current one.
Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 appear to have many similarities with content remaining as the primary means of differentiation. A number of new entrants to the fixed console market, such as Ouya, are ratcheting up the competitive field with pricing and gaming experiences intended to capture non-core gamers. ABI Research expects cumulative shipments of 8th generation consoles from the big three to pass 133 million during the first 5 years on market, compared to nearly 140 million 7th generation consoles over the same length of time.
“With many of the casual gaming segment embracing mobile devices for gaming, without a shift in strategy and pricing the Wii U will likely fail to match the success of the Wii which will impact future console shipments. If China decides to lift its ban on consoles, however, in the short term this could boost future shipments of 7th generation game consoles while minimally altering the 8th generation,” said Michael Inouye, a senior analyst of ABI Research.
New Android-based consoles are finding a niche but still lack differentiated gaming libraries from mobile devices and faced some early stage technical difficulties. One area of growth, currently unaccounted for in the forecast, is a low-cost smart STB/console ($99 or less) based on current 7th generation console technology.
“The future prospects of gaming platforms depends in equal measure on compelling games and pricing falling within household reach for discretionary/gift spending. Without solid titles and first party franchises platforms will have a difficult time finding traction - streaming media is not enough when low-cost smart STBs are readily available. While we don’t anticipate a drop-off in game console households, barring significant changes to less developed console markets in Asia and Latin America there is not a great deal of growth opportunity beyond the current installed base,” said Sam Rosen, practice director at ABI.