The most recent connected game and entertainment console forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC) concludes the fact that the number of game console shipped worldwide in 2013 will be higher than the 2012 total of approximately 33 million units, ending a four-year slide that began in 2009.
The same forecast suggests that Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4) bundle sales will edge out Microsoft Xbox One sales this holiday season due to a variety of factors, most notably the PS4’s lower price point.
IDC analysts predict that prepaid full-game, micro-game, and add-on download revenue derived through connected console channels (Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Store and eShop) will exceed that of worldwide PC-based prepaid full-game, micro-game, and add-on download revenue (i.e., digital PC games distributed through Steam, Origin, and Amazon.com) for the first time this year. Connected console subscription revenue (Xbox LIVE Gold and PlayStation Plus) is also rising in 2013 while subscription-based PC game revenue (i.e., World of Warcraft) is in decline.
“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 forecast also considers the outlook for gaming-capable smart TV, microconsole, and set-top box (STB) gaming. IDC anticipates that video game software revenue generated on smart TV, microconsole, and gaming-capable set-top box (STB) platforms from cable/telecom companies – and including cloud-streaming options from some of these providers – is rising quickly but will still represent less than 10% of all TV-centric, digital game-related spending in 2017.
“The differences between traditional game consoles, PCs connected to HDTV’s, and a variety of set-top-boxes and smart TVs that can play games will eventually be semantic,” explained Ward. “And it appears unlikely that Nintendo, Microsoft, or Sony will be driven out of the living room from a gaming perspective by 2017 as result of non-console competition from the likes of Valve/Steam, OUYA, cable/telecom companies, or related hardware and Web service providers.”