In a presentation at the recent MI6 Game Marketing Conference, Jason Anderson, director of research for the International Development Group (IDG) revealed the research company's predictions for the near future of console sales, and Gamasutra was present to relay his intriguing predictions.
Anderson began by saying that the U.S. alone accounted for $10.2 billion in revenue, for both hardware and software this year. (Going forward, all statistics and numbers mentioned here concern the U.S. exclusively.) He pointed out a slow decline in PC retail sales, and a rise in handhelds. He then moved onto a particularly interesting topic, next-gen hardware sales.
For 2007, IDG predicts Microsoft dominance for the next two years in the North American next-gen game hardware market, at least in terms of installed base. The forecast predicts 10.6 million consoles in homes for Xbox 360, 6.8 million for PlayStation 3, and a modest 3.5 million for Wii in 2007. In 2008, Anderson suggests 15.5 million units in homes for the 360, 13.5 million for PS3, and 6.8 million for Wii. He does mention that his group expects the PS3 to win out in the installed based race in the end, perhaps in 2009.
IDG also analyzed multiple console ownership, and found that there was a decent amount of crossover, with many homes owning more than one console. With the next generation, Anderson predicts more single console ownership, with most households choosing either the 360 or the PS3, and with most crossover happening when those households also chose to pick up a Wii.
For handhelds, in 2006 the group breaks the numbers down to 34.4 million installed units for the Game Boy Advance, 8.7 million for PSP, and 8.8 million for DS. In 2007, he predicts 34.8 million for GBA (admitting that they aren't quite certain how relevant those numbers will be in 2007 and later, with new software being more scarce), 14.4 million for PSP, and 15 million for DS. In 2008 he sees a larger gap between the DS and the PSP with 34.9 million for GBA, 17.6 million for PSP, and 20 million for DS.
Next, Anderson continued his presentation with a discussion of game quality. Using aggregates from gamerankings.com, IDG took average video game scores for each console over time. The three main consoles all average about 70%, though in the first year of each console's life, there was a bit of a difference. From the onset, the Gamecube's scores were highest, followed by Xbox, then PS2, which hovered around 70% for the entire duration. Handhelds rank a bit lower, with the DS surprisingly the lowest of the three.
The PSP performed roughly like a console, just below 70%, with the GBA below that, and the DS further down. Most surprising, however, is that the 360's average is closer to 80%, which Anderson takes to mean that game quality, at least for this first batch of next-gen titles, has increased. However, he cautions that this may not mean better sales, but rather that 80% is now the new baseline of expectation, and that anything below may suffer more than in previous generations.
Finally, IDG also predicted estimates for the emerging PC digital business models, including casual and online games and download services such as Valve's Steam. Anderson's group estimates roughly $1 billion for these emerging models of sale in 2006 in the U.S., taking care to mention that IDG's estimates are often on the conservative side.
He then went on to outline data on marketshare, bringing an end to the intriguing presentation. For present-gen consoles, the Xbox is at 25%, the PlayStation 2 at 56%, and the Gamecube at a 19% marketshare, according to IDG.