Worldwide shipments of game consoles in 2013 will be marginally higher than they were in 2012, while Sony’s (NYSE:SNE) PlayStation 4, or PS4, will likely outsell Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox One during upcoming holiday season, according to a new report by International Data Corporation, or IDC.

According to IDC, by surpassing last year’s figure of 33 million console bundles, this year’s shipment figure will end a four-year slide that began in 2009. The report also stated that it is PS4’s lower price point, which could help the Sony device to edge out the Xbox One. PS4 is likely to be priced at $399 while the Xbox One retails at $499.

“The number of online console gamers around the globe is on pace to exceed 165 million by 2017,” Lewis Ward, research manager, gaming at IDC, said in a statement. “As a result, the opportunity to sell these gamers digital assets through Wii U, Xbox One, and PS4 online storefronts will grow substantially in the next several years.”

According to Ward, the Chinese government's recent decision to lift the ban on consoles should lead to millions of additional hardware bundle sales for the likes of Nintendo (TYO:7974), Microsoft and Sony within three years.

IDC said that prepaid full-game, micro-game, and add-on download revenues derived through connected console channels, such as Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Store and eShop, will exceed that of worldwide PC-based prepaid full-game, micro-game, and add-on download revenues for the first time this year. In addition, connected-console subscription revenues (Xbox LIVE Gold and PlayStation Plus) are also rising in 2013 while subscription-based PC game revenue (World of Warcraft) is in decline.

The IDC forecast also considers the outlook for gaming-capable smart TV, microconsole, and set-top box gaming. According to the report, video-game software revenues generated on smart TV, microconsole, and gaming-capable set-top box platforms are rising quickly, but will still represent less than 10 percent of all TV-centric, digital game-related spending in 2017.

“The differences between traditional game consoles, PCs connected to HDTV's, and a variety of set-top-boxes and smart TVs that can play games will eventually be semantic," Ward said. “And it appears unlikely that Nintendo, Microsoft, or Sony will be driven out of the living room from a gaming perspective by 2017 as result of non-console competition from the likes of Valve/Steam, OUYA, cable/telecom companies, or related hardware and Web service providers.”

Ward said also that there should be more than 150 million online console gamers globally, “so the opportunity to sell these gaming enthusiasts digital assets through Wii U, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 consoles will be substantially larger than it is today.”

According to a recent poll conducted by Reuters, more U.S. shoppers prefer PS4 to Xbox One for the upcoming holiday season. The poll, conducted from Sept. 23 to Sept. 27, showed that 26 percent of 1,297 people surveyed online said that they would likely purchase the new PS4 when available, while 15 percent of the respondents opted for the Xbox One.

The gap broadens among people below the age of 40, with 41 percent of 408 people in that group picking the PS4, while 27 percent of them opting for the Xbox One.