Despite the recent popularity of mobile games, many experts believe video game consoles, such as the soon-to-be released PlayStation 4, or PS4, and Xbox One, will remain a constant presence for the foreseeable future. The excitement, and anticipation, for the next-gen consoles, as well as the fanfare around games such as “Grand Theft Auto V” or a new “Halo” game, is unrivaled even as new smartphone games rack up millions of downloads.
Experts speaking to Agence France-Presse say the frenzy over the PS4 and Xbox One, as well as the attention surrounding “GTA V,” are examples of the audience that will support console gaming. Smartphone games, including “Temple Run 2,” “Candy Crush Saga” and “Plants vs. Zombies 2,” have racked up millions of downloads, have become a part of the daily routine for many people, and the gap is narrowing between the two markets. According to AFP, the market for console games, including sales of consoles and games, in Japan was at 485 billion yen, about $4.9 billion, whereas social games brought in 400 billion yen, $4 billion yen.
There was a period where console gaming was big business, due to the popularity of the PlayStation 2 followed by the release of the Xbox 360 in 2005, the PlayStation 3 in 2006 and the incredible mainstream success of Nintendo’s Wii in the same year. In 2007, the Japanese market for console gaming reached 700 billion yen, around $7 billion.
Hisakazu Hirabayashi, a games industry analyst for InteractKK, told AFP console gaming is a “cultural mode” with a steady fan base that is unlikely to drop consoles for smartphones and tablets. Social games are popular because many of them are free, with in-app purchases for additional features, and users can play them at their leisure.
Hirabayashi also noted that the industry is supported by a small percentage of users who will spend a lot of money on purchases. “If home console games are like kabuki, smartphone games are like casinos where a small number of high rollers support the business. They are two different markets," Hirabayashi told AFP.
While the console gaming market is down a bit from its heyday, it is still an incredibly lucrative market. Microsoft released its own report, indicating a $65 billion global market for gaming across all platforms, with consoles accounting for $27 billion and mobile/tablet gaming accounting for $10 billion. The report includes a slide showing a record-setting $650 million in sales for “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” in five days, compared to $373 million in 10 days for the 2012 blockbuster “The Avengers” and $285 million for 2013’s biggest movie “Iron Man 3. Analysts from TechNavio predict a growth in the worldwide gaming market of 3.9 percent from 2012 to 2016.