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Video Games Predictions for 2012 – The Console Wars

January 12, 2012

It used to be that the console wars had very defined lines, like a Napoleonic battle field. Armies would turn up in clear colours and fight it out – Sony, Sega, Nintendo. When one lost, another would try to mount a new offensive – Microsoft for example.

Then Apple went and the smart phone a ubiquitous general purpose machine that excelled at games and followed it up with a pad. Now the battlefield is a mess and while the big players are still slugging it out, the lines are no longer clear and the fighting is all over the place. It’s all a bit Goya.

So what does 2012 hold for this section of the console wars?  Industry Gamers asked some analysis what they thought Sony should do:

Their big focus for 2012 will be the launch of the PlayStation Vita.  If Sony can dedicate themselves to launching strong first-party content, I don’t see any reason, not even the price tag, that could hold the Vita back.  With early reviews of Uncharted for the Vita coming in positively, it looks like they are on the right track.

He was not the only one in the article to say the Vita could work out. Sony are also up-beat about it.  I have to admit I’m not sure I agree with this. I think the PSVita is a console pitched to the pre-iPhone world. Sony has amazing technology and games (I’m a PS3 gamer!) – you can see this in the PSPgo for example. But it was not the fully-networked device and system that a smart phone is. Sony are clearly trying to make it more mobile and have got some great looking games for it. But for the price of one of those games I could buy 40-50 games for my iPod. In Japan (Sony’s home turf where the PSP did very well) the first weeks sales were an impressive 324,859 but the following week, after the hard-core fans had got theirs sales were 42,648 (and it was out-sold by the PSP). Compare that to the opening week sales of the iPad2 in Japan which were between 400,000 and 600,000. Also note that in December 2011 Google say they activated 42 million Android devices worldwide.  I know that is worldwide, but that is about 10 million per week. A change of strategy is needed there I feel.  However there is plenty of opportunity as the games bit of Sony is profitable.

That’s not to let Nintendo off the hook. They also have the same problem. In the past Nintendo has not been very network-centric. A bad move in the digital age. It seems that in 2012 they are trying to fix this by creating their own app store. If they can internalise the changes of the post-iPhone world fully, they they could do well. If. Remember this is against a backdrop of Amazon selling 1 million+ Kindles in a week, including the Kindle Fire.

The console wars are going to be messy in 2012, bit it seems Microsoft are starting to understand the position they are all in and are making moves to link to mobile via Android…Which is brave (and the right strategy, imho) rahter they trying to lock everything into Windows Phone only.

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