A new series of reports from market research firm DFC Intelligence suggests that the worldwide video games market, including consoles, PC and online, is expected to grow from a current value of around $33 billion to as much as $47 billion by 2009.
The report predicts that the PC games market will grow to over $13 billion by 2012, with the majority of its growth coming from online games revenue, including subscriptions, advertising and digital distribution.
The portable games market is also expected to continue to increase, with DFC analyst David Cole saying: "Revenue from portable game software has more than doubled in recent years and we think that the Nintendo DS could eventually become the best selling game system ever in five years".
The reports are less unequivocal when it comes to the home console market, offering three different scenarios based on different performances for the Xbox 360, Wii and PlayStation 3. Overall, cumulative worldwide sales for the three systems are predicted to be between 180 and 210 million units by 2012 - more than the total during the PlayStation 2 era.
Controversially, DFC has raised its forecasts for the Wii and the PlayStation 3 in all three scenarios and lowered its forecasts for the Xbox 360. "The Xbox 360 will need to build a strong base outside North America to avoid being in a fairly distant third," says Cole, while predicting that the Wii will remain the strongest system through at least 2008. The PlayStation 3 is not expected to come into its own until 2009, according to the reports.