SAN FRANCISCO — Shipments of eighth-generation gaming consoles from gaming's big three -- Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft -- are expected to total about 133 million cumulatively in their first five years on the market, less than the 140 million units sold in the first five years of seventh-generation consoles, according to market research firm ABI Research.
Both Microsoft and Sony are expected to be shipping their newest consoles during the 2013 holiday season, the Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4, respectively, ABI noted. The firm said the latest consoles appear evenly matched, with content being the primary differentiator.
ABI also noted that a number of new firms like Ouya are coming out with gaming consoles, increasing competition. These newer consoles are often less expensive, ABI noted. Ouya offers an Android-based set top box console that streams games to a TV for $99.
ABI said the new Android-based consoles are finding a market niche, but are hurt by a lack of differentiated gaming libraries. Michael Inouye, a senior analyst for ABI, said in the news release that much of the "casual" gaming market segment is embracing mobile devices like smartphones for gaming, which is likely to serve as another limiter on sales of the eighth-generation consoles.
Nintendo's Wii U, which has been available since November in the US,
has not been selling as briskly as Nintendo hoped.
"If China decides to lift its ban on consoles, however, in the short term this could boost future shipments of seventh generation game consoles while minimally altering the eighth generation," Inouye said.
"While we don't anticipate a drop-off in game console households, barring significant changes to less developed console markets in Asia and Latin America, there isn't a great deal of growth opportunity beyond the current installed base," said Sam Rosen, a practice director at ABI.