We live in an era where the constant technological innovations in the gaming industry are now taken for granted. Flamboyant claims like Sony’s assertion that the PlayStation 4 is the world’s most powerful console might, in fact, be true, but the distinction is less dramatic than you’d expect. These days, just because gamers have the strongest hardware doesn’t mean they have the market cornered. The console wars are dead, and news like the PS4 doubling the sales of both Xbox and Nintendo‘s offerings doesn’t incite the kind of fervent response from loyalists that it would have five or ten years ago.
That being said, despite the increasing prominence of PC gaming, the console market is still thriving. In fact, the PS4 and Xbox One are both currently outpacing their previous generation predecessors in sales volume. That’s why it is all the more surprising that a respected financial analyst went on the record as saying that the console user base is “as big as it’s ever going to get.”
Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter discussed console gaming and its audience at DICE Europe last week, and he had some interesting thoughts to share. In particular, Pachter was confident that the current generation of consoles “is not going to be bigger than the last generation. We’re going to be about the same”. He further elaborated:
“The Wii U is going to sell 20 million units compared to 100 million for the Wii, the PlayStation 4 is going to sell 120 million or 130 million – that’s great. The Xbox One will sell 100 million to 110 million – that’s great. Add it all together and it’s 260 million units, maybe, and the last cycle was 270 million.”
Pachter didn’t just call it a day at pointing out the minor decrease in unit sales, however. He went on to state that “this is the last real console cycle”, before explaining exactly what he meant:
“I don’t mean that Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo will go bankrupt and shut down – they will not. Each of them will make another console, some people will buy them, and the next console cycle will be to this console cycle what the 3DS is to the DS.”
While that comparison might seem favorable at first, the DS moved almost twice as many units per year over five years than the 3DS did. Pachter believes that devices like smartphones and set-top boxes will remove gamer’s dependence on consoles. It’s certainly not wild speculation – Nintendo Mobile Games will release this year, and the incredible success of Fallout Shelter proves that the console gamer population is willing to play iterations of their favorite titles on the go.
It’s clear that companies that have their roots in the console industry have already begun to look towards the future, but they aren’t neglecting their current hardware. If the recently rekindled rivalry between Sony and Microsoft is any indication, console gamers have a lot to look forward to before their favored means of virtual enjoyment goes the way of the Dreamcast.
Do you agree or disagree with Pachter’s beliefs? What’s the next logical step for console producers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!