Research firm DFC Intelligence released a game-industry brief providing its lay of the land heading into the PlayStation 3 and Wii launches this November, and the organization is abstaining from backing any particular horse in the race. The brief is titled "Win, Place, or Show: Does it Really Matter," and it suggests that there are more important considerations than who is going to sell the most consoles this year.
"The console hardware battle is a marathon, not a sprint, and will be played out over the next three years," the firm said. "It is unlikely that this holiday season will reveal any major surprises that would cause us to make a major market reassessment."
DFC has been vocal in the past about its opinion that Sony's pricing of the PS3 has left the door open for Microsoft and Nintendo to claim plenty of market share at the electronics giant's expense. To stay in the hunt, DFC thinks Sony needs to keep the PlayStation 2 market active to postpone consumers from making the leap to the next-generation systems and to make the PS3's price competitive by late 2007. One move the firm applauded was Sony's announcement that it would include an HDMI port in both versions of the PS3 hardware, noting that it should cut down on confusion and keep the cheaper bundle from being perceived as a "crippled" version of the system.
"Another key point is that under all scenarios the new game systems from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are all viable platforms," the brief said. "In the past generation there was one platform, the PS2, that far outclassed the field. Going forward we do not see a scenario where any platform has that kind of dominance over the next five years. Even under the worst case scenario, Microsoft and Nintendo do better with the Xbox 360 and the Wii than they did with the Xbox and GameCube."
And while the differences in the three main hardware platforms will make porting games a challenge for developers, DFC believes those unique qualities each platform possesses may spur the industry's growth in the coming generation.
"Increasingly consumers own multiple platforms on which they play games," the brief said. "There are many opportunities to reach a growing consumer base. Unfortunately the market is also getting substantially more competitive and the pitfalls are growing just as fast. Even the largest companies risk becoming overextended as they try to be all things, to all people, in all places."
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