With the imminent rollout of Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360, we didn’t exactly need serious research to conclude that console shipments would go up this year, but thanks to the IDC, we’ve got a few figures, too.
IDC predicts console shipments in 2013 will be “marginally higher” than the 2012 total of approximately 33 million units. This year will also mark the end of a four-year slide in console shipments.
The true impact of the PS4 and Xbox One, or Xbone, will be felt next year. Nintendo’s new Wii U hasn’t done very well this year, due to a lack of compelling games, but the competition is expected to do just fine.
The research also suggests Sony will take the lead, as its console is somewhat cheaper and users don’t seem too thrilled by some of Microsoft’s policies. IDC also expects game revenue derived through connected console channels to exceed PC prepaid revenue this year.
“The number of online console gamers around the globe is on pace to exceed 165 million by 2017,” said Lewis Ward, Research Manager, Gaming at IDC. “As a result, the opportunity to sell these gamers digital assets through Wii U, Xbox One, and PS4 online storefronts will grow substantially in the next several years.” Ward adds that the Chinese government’s recent decision to lift the ban on consoles should lead to millions of additional hardware bundle sales for the likes of Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony within three years.
The introduction of new consoles just in time for the holiday season will obviously have a knock on effect on sales of console related accessories and peripherals, not to mention retail games.
However, it is worth noting that higher demand for consoles is not expected to have much of an impact on the PC gaming market. Recent research indicates that PC gaming is doing just fine and spending is growing by a CAGR of 3 percent. Console and PC gaming are no longer vying for the same consumer base and they are developing in parallel, without much in the way of cannibalisation.
The next generation of games consoles are expected to pass 133 million shipments in their first five years on the market, slightly down from 140 million for the previous generation.
ABI Research noted that, although the console refresh – with Microsoft’s Xbone and Sony’s PS4 – should inject some life into the market, niche consoles nibbling at their heels could shake it up and encourage more innovation than the big three would like.
New platforms, such as niche Android devices like Ouya and even Nvidia’s curiosity Project Shield, will promote different approaches to gaming. According to a report, new entrants will be able to raise existing platforms like Windows and Android as well as bridging the divide between fixed and mobile gaming.
We could even see low cost consoles emerging out of current generation technology in the $99 or less bracket.
According to senior ABI analyst Michael Inouye, without a shift in strategy Nintendo may suffer – as the casual gamers stick to mobile devices and Wii U pricing fails to bring about the success of the Wii.
Meanwhile, if China – which is mulling lifting a console ban – opens its borders to the big players, there could be a short term boost of current generation consoles, though this is not expected to alter next gen shipments too much.
Practice director Sam Rosen said ultimately, the future of console makers depends on balancing compelling content with competitive pricing.
“Without solid titles and first party franchises, platforms will have a difficult time finding traction, streaming media is not enough when low-cost smart set top boxes are readily available,” Rosen said. “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 isn’t a great deal of growth opportunity beyond the current installed base”.
May seems to have been the worst month for console sales in 13 years, before the introduction of the PlayStation 2.
According to Wedbush Securities, sales of console games were just $175 million in the US, down 31 percent from $255 million last year. Wedbush was expecting a drop of 16 percent and sales around $216 million.
Unit sales of console software were down 26 percent, while ASPs were down 8 percent. This is hardly surprising, as new consoles are rolling out and few consumers are willing to buy software for old systems. However, PC game sales were even worse.
Sales of PC gaming software were down 84 percent year-on-year. Hardware sales were down 31 percent and the US spent only $96 million on PC games in May.
Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter believes sales should pick up in June, as several new AAA titles make their presence felt, but no big improvement is expected until next generation consoles start shipping in volume, reports wallstcheatsheat.com. Positive growth should return in September, as a number of new game releases are timed to coincide with the availability of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
New consoles are expected to have a massive impact on sales toward the end of the year and 2014 should be good as well. However, handheld consoles will face even more competition from mobiles and tablets.