Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter believes that we will not enter the next console generation until 2013. Investors are getting a bit worried as video game software sales seem to have peaked for the current generation. I don't think they have, but when compared to last year, sales are down in 2009. Now, some people could freak out and start looking toward the PS4 and Xbox 720, but remain calm.
"We do not expect a 'new' console in 2010 (other than the long-rumored high definition Wii, which is likely to upgrade the Wii to current console technology)," said Pachter.
Sure, sales are down from last year, but the first few months of last year saw the releases of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Grand Theft Auto IV, and Metal Gear Solid 4. Oh, and I heard there's some sort of recession going on, right? A new HD Wii is an interesting notion, but I don't really see the point. Third-party development on the Wii tends to be relegated to lower budget titles and will likely continue in that direction (especially when games like MadWorld bomb at retail). It's the hardcore gamers that want HD and they aren't buying games on the Wii anyway. Do minigame collections really need 720p graphics?
Well, what about the Xbox 360 and PS3?
I don't know about you, but I've never turned on my Xbox 360 or PS3 and thought, "Man, this is old and busted. I hope the next-gen console comes out soon." Developers haven't even gotten to the point where they are hitting the limits of the consoles. Sure, they may need to make the occasional mandatory install on the PS3 or pray to the deity of their choice that Microsoft let's them use the hard drive for serious caching during gameplay.
The turning point to the next-gen for me is when PC games begin to drastically outpace console games. Right now, they are pretty much equal. Sure, PC games can sport better textures and higher resolutions, but the hardware cost is much higher.
I also don't know how smart it would be for Sony or Microsoft to push out any hardware in the next year or two. Sony still needs to get the price of the PS3 down to the mass-market levels. I can't imagine what a system with better hardware than the PS3 would cost in the near future.
Microsoft recently started pulling a profit on the Xbox 360 hardware and have great software sales. Why splinter your audience with a new console? I think Microsoft will probably follow the PS2 and PS3 timing with the Xbox 360 and its follow-up. How weird would it be if by the next generation, Microsoft and Sony had switched places?
I think we'll see a new PSP soon and Nintendo will probably release another iteration of the DS or DSi next week. Probably not, but they sure do like to re-release the same platform over and over again.
Do you see the need for new hardware within the next year or two? Are you unhappy with the performance of your current console? Have you slowed down your purchasing because you think new hardware is on the way?