Though 2008 NPD results showed a slowdown in the games biz, Cowen Group analyst Doug Creutz says that it's primarily the tough comparison against a 2007 that defied all expectations -- not an actual decline in the current console cycle -- that's responsible for the shift.
The analyst is far less optimistic about the course of the PlayStation 3's market share, however. "Our console estimates include a further share shift towards the Nintendo Wii and away from the Sony PlayStation 3," he says.
Specifically, Creutz projects a 2.25 million unit increase in Wii sales for 2009 and a 2 million increase in 2010, to 8 million and 6 million units for those respective years -- while his estimates for Sony's PS3 have decreased by 2.25 million units in the year ahead. The Xbox 360 would remain largely unaffected by the shift, he asserts.
"Following another year in which PS3 unit sales lagged behind the Wii and Xbox 360, it is now clear that Sony has failed to establish the PS3 as the console of choice among hardcore gamers this cycle," Creutz says.
The analyst now expects PlayStation 3, which sold 3.6 million units in 2008, to sell 4 million units in 2009, compared to his previous forecast of 6.25. Projections for 2010 of 4.5 million units suggest the analyst believes the PS3 could pick up by that time.
"Although there appears to be a reasonably robust slate of games for the PlayStation 3 this year, Sony continues to lack a clear 'must-own' title that will drive sales, while its platform continues to be the most expensive in the market in the midst of a consumer slowdown," the analyst says. "Meanwhile, highly publicized platform initiatives such as Home have failed to get off the ground."