PlayStation 3 Will Ultimately Win Console Wars?

Remember three and a half years ago—yes, we know that’s a long time—when a good portion of the gaming world thought that the so called “next-generation” game console wars were going to be absolutely dominated by Sony, with Microsoft and Nintendo scrambling between themselves for the remainders of the market. Well, that was the second half of 2006, and now it’s the first half of 2010—and market analysis firm Strategy Analytics is now forecasting that the PlayStation 3 will be the dominant game platform globally by 2013…the Wii and the Xbox 360 be damned.

According to Strategy Analytics’s David Mercer, author of the report “Taming the Waves: Games Console Life Cycles and Platform Competition,”, the lifetime installed base for PlayStation 3s will reach 127 million units, compared to 103 million units for the so-far-market-leading Nintendo Wii. Mercer bases the forecast on the idea that the PlayStation 3 will likely still be a commercial platform five years after the Wii has been off retailers’ store shelves.

“Nintendo has done a great job with the Wii in bringing console games to new audiences,” said Mercer, in a statement. “But its sales are now falling, particularly in mature markets, and its installed base will peak in 2011. Ownership of both the PS3 and the Xbox 360 will hit their highest points between 2012 and 2014.”

The report also forecasts console says will decline by 9 percent in 2010, with
sales of the Wii, PS3, Xbox 360, and PS2 amounting to 17.5 million, 14 million, 10.5 million, and 5.5 million respectively.

Of course, the art of forecasting game console sales is a tricky thing: nobody except Nintendo believes the Wii was going to be anything but an also-ran, and forthcoming initiatives from Microsoft (Project Natal) and Sony (motion controller and 3D capability) may complicate the existing market. There’s little doubt that Sony’s PlayStation 3 hardware design (leaving aside dicey clock chips) has the potential to stay on the market longer than the Wii and the Xbox 360—after all, the PS2 is still selling. But there are surely no companies more aware of the PS3s potential longevity than Microsoft and Nintendo.

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