Rebound of video game consoles seen as new platforms arrive

A new study from research firm IDC has forecast that demand for Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Nintendo’s Wii and Wii U, and Sony’s PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 2 is expected to rise in four global regions through 2016.

“The console ecosystem is in a state of flux since these platforms need to support an ever-growing array of non-gaming features and services at the same time that game distribution and monetization is moving in a digital direction,” said Lewis Ward, research manager of IDC’s Gaming service.

“At the same time, it doesn’t appear that alternative platforms — set-top boxes from cable companies, Web-connected smart TVs, and so on — are positioned to materially disrupt the trajectory of the ‘big 3’ console OEMs in 2013 or 2014. Discs will remain the console game revenue mainstay for years to come.”

Key takeaways from the new forecast include:

• In December 2012, PS3 system shipments eclipsed the number of Xbox 360’s shipped worldwide, despite the PS3 launching a year later than the Xbox 360 (an estimated 77 million bundles versus approximately 76 million bundles shipped)

o Nintendo’s Wii U will find an audience; global bundle shipments will exceed 50 million by year-end 2016

• The volume of packaged game discs shipped will decline an average of roughly 3 percent per year through 2016, as console spending shifts into digital channels

“2011 and 2012 were tough for many console game disc developers and publishers,” added Ward. “With the advent of eighth-generation consoles, starting with the Wii U, historical norms strongly imply that game disc revenue will stop bleeding in 2013 and rise substantively in 2014,” said Ward.

The regional breakdown includes North America, Western Europe, Japan, and a combined Rest of World (ROW). Console bundle and packaged game disc shipments, console installed bases, hardware and packaged software ASPs, total hardware and packaged software revenue, and total console gamers are some of the key metrics considered.

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