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Is Console Gaming Dying? 496

Posted by Soulskill
from the who-needs-consoles-when-you-can-play-on-your-phone-right dept.
mr_sifter writes "PC gamers love to obsess over whether PC gaming is dying, but bit-tech thinks it's time to look at the other side and examine if console gaming is really as secure as publishers would have us believe. All three console manufacturers suffered from the recession — this year, Sony announced its first net loss in 14 years; a stunning ¥989.9bn, which includes record losses of ¥58.5bn in its gaming sector. Microsoft also announced its first loss since it went public in 1986 in the second quarter of this financial year, with a $31 million US loss coming straight from the Entertainment and Devices division, which is responsible for the Xbox 360. Not even Nintendo has escaped the financial plague either, with sales of the Wii dropping by 67 percent in the US, 60 percent in Japan and 47 percent in the rest of the world. In addition to reduced profitability, casual games and the rise of the iPhone further suggest the current model is not invulnerable."
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Is Console Gaming Dying?

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  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 14, 2009 @05:30PM (#30435706)

    Next question.

    • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday December 14, 2009 @06:26PM (#30436504)

      The next question is: what exactly would the mechanism of "console gaming dying" be anyway? I would argue that the death of console gaming would/will have look like one of the following scenarios:

      1. Most of the "major" games will be released for the PC and not the consoles.
      2. New major consoles will not be released, eventually the consoles out there would lag so far behind PC that 1 would happen
      3. All major consoles will become so PC like that they will be indistinguishable and it will be pointless to talk about PC vs console

      1 doesn't seem to be happening, and I don't really see many signs that it will happen any time soon, there seem to be more releases of significant games for consoles than PC. I think everyone but the most ridiculous fanboys of a given console would agree that games -should- be released on all platforms that can support the game. I want to choose what platform to game on based on my needs and equipment, being denied a gaming experience because I don't have the right hardware, or having to choose hardware based on -artificial- game availability is not a good situation. (Emphasis on artificial. Obviously MS isn't going to release their Halo games on a nintendo console, and obviously I'm not expecting to run Crysis 2 on an NES.) So I hope that more games continue to be released on all platforms, PC and console.

      2. Consoles obviously aren't as powerful as PCs, but again, 1 seems far from happening. Already, the idea with MS at least seems to be delaying the next console for longer. If the next generation (and I mean the -actual- next generation, not the current xbox 360/PS3/wii generation which is sometimes mistakenly referred to as "next gen") is still a loss for the console makers, I suppose they might decide to not release another one. Games would continue coming out for them for a while, but eventually enough customers would migrate away from the PC to where the consoles become obsolete. Games are to this day coming out for the PS2 [gamefaqs.com], and the next generation of consoles is undoubtedly going to be released, so it will be quite a few years before console gaming dries up completely.

      3. Doesn't seem very likely to me. Consoles are aimed squarely at people who want to plug in and play immediately, without messing around with hardware or software configurations. I think MS is having enough headaches with the optional hard-drive in the 360 that they're going to move away from even that, back to "one console, one hardware configuration." I don't see any signs from nintendo that they'll start making games that can run on both their hardware and other hardware, and given the sales of the wii, even with this recent decrease, they'd be nuts to do so any time soon.

      So I don't really see -how- console gaming could be dying. Slowing down temporarily, sure, but it's not like console gaming is a living thing, where if it's vitals (sales) drop low enough, the beast is going to die and not be revived.

      For the next next question I'd like to propose one of the following: do game journalists feel the need to declare "X is dying" -entirely- because it gets attention they're not getting otherwise? Do even they think that a trend like "sales declining" should be extrapolated to ridiculous extremes like "IT'S GOING TO DIE COMPLETELY!!!" [xkcd.com] Is rational commentary on videogames dying or did it ever even exist in the first place?

    • Re:No (Score:4, Funny)

      by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Monday December 14, 2009 @07:38PM (#30437334) Homepage

      The question isn't "Is console gaming dying," but rather, "How many extra lives has it racked up?"

    • Re:No (Score:5, Informative)

      by Blakey Rat (99501) on Monday December 14, 2009 @08:00PM (#30437656)

      Microsoft didn't post a loss this year. They posted their first-ever reduction in revenue... those are two different things, and the author of this article is a retard for not knowing the difference.

      In fact, considering all factors (and Vista), Microsoft has been weathering this recession much better than most companies.

  • it's not dying (Score:5, Informative)

    by Shakrai (717556) on Monday December 14, 2009 @05:30PM (#30435712) Journal

    <non smart ass answer>The console industry is hardly the only one that lost money this year. Hello, recession?</non smart ass answer>

    <smart ass answer>Netcraft hasn't confirmed it yet, so it can't be dying.</smart ass answer>

    • Re:it's not dying (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Lord Ender (156273) on Monday December 14, 2009 @06:00PM (#30436142) Homepage

      non smart ass answer = Steam. Whenever they have a sale, I buy games. Lots of games. I'm not going to pay $60 for a game, but $20-$30 = impulse buy. And you don't even have to leave your house to get the games. You don't have to juggle discs. Just click and play. Since everybody has a computer anyway, a $100 graphics card will get you better graphics than a console at a lower price than a console. Gaming with Steam is just a better experience at a better price.

      smart ass answer = Unless you're playing a 2D scroller, joysticks are for losers.

  • by Bartles (1198017) on Monday December 14, 2009 @05:31PM (#30435724)
    Perhaps if they charged less than $60 for a tier one new release, sales would go up.
    • by yayotters (833158) on Monday December 14, 2009 @05:39PM (#30435836)
      I'm sure Valve's pricing experiments can attest to this.
    • Sure, but would the increase in sales make up for the reduced margins?

      FWIW, price doesn't make a difference to me. I don't own a current-gen console, and I don't plan on buying another console, ever. Why?

      For exactly the reasons outlined in TFA. Casual games are good enough for me. I work, I have a family, I have other hobbies. A quick 30-minute session of Nethack or Elona Shooter[1] or Gemcraft or a thousand other casual games is good enough for me. And in the long run, I expect good gaming experien
      • Sure, but would the increase in sales make up for the reduced margins?

        Big thing lately is downloading your content. Steam, Xbox Live, PS3 Second Life - it all offers content straight from the developers or your console maker.

        Gamestop & EB Games & Toys R Us put the prices up about $15-20 more So that they can turn a profit off of games. You cut them out, either the prices go down, or the profits go up.

        Steam has shown this - Everything I have looked at for games are at least $10 less than in store boxed goods, and often they have deals, 50% off, 75% off, bundled package

    • For major releases, I think the market has actually adapted quite well. Consumers are given a pretty good tradeoff spectrum to decide how much a game is worth to them:

      If a game looks to you like a good enough value proposition that you're willing to buy it at launch, you pay $60.

      If a game looks worthwhile but you don't need it at launch, you can hold off for a few months and someone will have it for $40 (eventually MSRP reflects this).

      If a game looks fun but you wouldn't pay more than a budget title for it

      • by tepples (727027)

        If a game looks fun but you wouldn't pay more than a budget title for it (and it isn't a consistent bestseller), play other games for a few more months and you'll see it for $20.

        I've tried this several times: wait for a PS2 game to hit the bargain aisle, buy it, unwrap it, put it in my PS2, and try to play online only to find that Sony has shut off the matchmaking server with DNAS Error -103.

    • Here in Australia we get charged 110 Oz for a tier one game, which works out to be 100 US with current exchange rates.
      Relative CD, DVD and game prices were set when the Oz dollar was worth about 60 US cents which was a decade ago and margins haven't been adjusted since.

  • After playing video games on my grandson's XBox 360 over Thanksgiving, I signed up with GameFly so I can try a lot of Wii games at home. It is so much better playing video games standing up :-)

  • No (Score:5, Informative)

    by kryptKnight (698857) on Monday December 14, 2009 @05:33PM (#30435764)
    The video game industry isn't the only one posting losses recently, so this doesn't seem like a big deal at all. That and these consoles are four years old, it's not surprising to see sales dip.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Andy Dodd (701)

      Yeah. Global economic meltdown + console sales expected to slow down as the generation goes on explains it.

      A 60% drop in sales for the Wii isn't exactly saying much considering the insane and unexpected "we can't keep up with demand" aka "license to print money" sales pace for the first year or two of the console's existence.

      Yeah, so it's not a license to print money any more - I'm sure Nintendo is still doing just fine.

      • by AuMatar (183847)

        Over 1 million consoles sold last week, according to vgchartz. They're doing just fine. Hell, the DS had a million sales in NA 2 weeks ago. Nintendo still prints money.

    • Re:No (Score:5, Informative)

      by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday December 14, 2009 @05:46PM (#30435940)

      Microsoft also announced its first loss since it went public in 1986 in the second quarter of this financial year, with a $31 million US loss coming straight from the Entertainment and Devices division,

      This statement seems to imply that the console losses from the Entertainment Division somehow led to the sudden loss as a company for MS. Except for a few quarters, the division has historically been a money loser for MS. MS has had cumulative losses of $8 billion from the division since the Xbox was started.

      • by Trepidity (597)

        It's a fairly small proportion of Microsoft's business overall to begin with, so it's odd that people would attribute either successes or problems at Microsoft as a whole to its Entertainment and Devices division. Microsoft has annual revenues just under $60 billion, while its the Entertainment and Devices division has revenues just under $2 billion--- it's about 3% of the company's business. If Microsoft is doing better or worse one year vs. another, it's much more likely to be due to something going on wi

      • Well I think that the implication was supposed to be that the console market was a money-loser for Microsoft and so they might not want to continue. You're not doing a very good job of disputing that.
    • The video game industry isn't the only one posting losses recently, so this doesn't seem like a big deal at all. That and these consoles are four years old, it's not surprising to see sales dip.

      Agreed. In particular, when the summary gets to the sales drop of the Wii, I have a hard time feeling sorry for Nintendo. For one thing, if you're talking about sales of the actual Wii console, well for something like a year and a half after launch it was still hard to buy a Wii because they kept selling out. If sales have dropped, it's probably because the Wii has only now hit its saturation point and everyone who wants a Wii has already bought one.

      But also, it's important to note that Nintendo was mak

  • From the article:

    Virtual marketplaces such as WiiWare and Xbox Arcade enable smaller developers to get a foot in the door

    Smaller, yes, but not smallest. It appears that a small business still needs to do a first title on either the PC or the iPod Touch, and some genres aren't suited to those platforms.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Define Smallest?

      I alone could submit a game to the Xbox Live Arcade - for a small investment. Whether it makes it up there or not depends on how good it is - but the fact remains a single person can make a game for the 360.

  • by gzsfrk (519324) on Monday December 14, 2009 @05:34PM (#30435776)
    What an ignorant story. We're in the middle of the worst recession/near depression that has ever occurred since videogames came to be, and it's somehow an ominous sign that the companies behind videogames experienced losses either during the whole year (Sony), a single quarter (MS), or simply had lower sales than the previous year PRIOR to the recession? How about looking at it from the perspective that it's amazing that the videogames sector has done as well as it has over the course of the past year, despite a tremendously inhospitable economic climate?
  • by TaggartAleslayer (840739) on Monday December 14, 2009 @05:34PM (#30435784)

    Or it could be that we're in a global recession, it's been a rather lackluster year for gaming in general, and all of the consoles have reached the maturity/decline slope in their product life-cycle.

    • all of the consoles have reached the maturity/decline slope in their product life-cycle.

      Really? "For years, Sony has argued that its video game consoles have 10-year lifecycles" says this interesting article [zdnetasia.com], which mainly focuses on PS2's 9th birthday. Also, I don't see a big decline in sales in this console hardware sales chart [pcvsconsole.com] (which, admittedly, might not be too accurate, but gives you a rough idea).

      Frankly, I don't think we're nowhere near seeing what can be eventually squeezed out of PS3 or 360 or Wii. Remember the difference between early vs. later PS2 games?

      And I don't realistically

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 14, 2009 @05:36PM (#30435798)

    This article is inaccurate. Microsoft didn't post a loss, it posted its first REVENUE DROP since it became public in 1986. They still made a pretty good profit in that quarter.

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Monday December 14, 2009 @05:39PM (#30435834) Homepage Journal
    From the article:

    Instead, with fattening broadband connections, mainstream gaming is probably going to go towards the way of OnLive, where one big bank of hardware can churn out the power needed for broadband-connected gaming machines, without needing to fill a loss-making box with proprietary hardware. In fact, limited bandwidth is the only obstacle to this technology taking off worldwide.

    Bandwidth isn't the only problem; latency is another biggie. Players are used to being able to press a button and see something happen within 30 milliseconds. The latency for sending your keypresses to the game server, rendering and compressing a frame, and sending it back is likely to be much larger than that, even if only for speed-of-light reasons.

  • The big lack of user maps and mods does not help also.

    Xbox pay to pay on line is a joke when you look at that next to free pc and ps3 on line play.

    • by Dyinobal (1427207)
      For sure, I couldn't imagine paying for a xbox live, that would be like valve asking me to pay for steam. Seriously it should be an incentive to buy their freaking console not something they use to grab more money from my pocket. Oh and buying Microsoft money is the most retarded thing ever. There's a reason why people think gaming is for kids, and one of them is having to buy tokens like you're at chuckycheese.
  • Linkbait.

    Let me see if I have this right... during a giant global recession during which people had trouble paying rent and were scared of losing their jobs, they weren't out buying $200 consoles? Egads!

    Look at how gaming has done through all this. Yes, sales fell, but New Super Mario Brothers Wii has sold over 2 million units in a month in the US. Modern Warfare 2 sold tons and tons of units. Amazon is having tons of trouble keeping the Wii and Wii games in stock.

    All things considered, gaming is doing am

  • Anecdotally... no. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Brandee07 (964634) on Monday December 14, 2009 @05:44PM (#30435912)

    Consoles aren't in any danger in my house, because I have ceased to maintain a gaming PC. I've switched to console gaming entirely- at the cost of the superior control scheme of Dragon Age, the third-party mods of Oblivion, and the keyboard-and-mouse input that I'm so familiar with. I gave that all up in order to get a game that I know will work when I get home, that won't disagree with my video card or run like a slideshow cause I don't have enough RAM.

    Console gaming is, in my opinion, stronger than ever. It just happens to be a recession and people are spending less on luxuries... like video games.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      at the cost of the superior control scheme of Dragon Age

      Ha! Dragon Age on the X360 has made me consider putting together a proper gaming PC again. I beat the game (no, not on Casual setting), but micromanaging the battles through the radial wheel was tedium personified. And I never did figure out which direction on the D-pad changed the target selection in what way. There was a general dense of direction, but then it would do something unexpected, or select a target way offscreen.

      And, hey, Bioware? Maybe a little contextual influence on the target selection? May

    • It just happens to be a recession and people are spending less on luxuries... like video games.

      Dude, not cool! First you you couldn't be bothered maintaining a l33t gam31ng r1g because of petty things like compatibility and cost. Then you said video games are a luxury! Every gamer knows they're not a luxury, they're a human right. So that's it! Hand in your l33t gam1ng card, grandad! And get out of my treehouse! (If I can't be on your lawn, you can't be in my treehouse!)

  • Of course (Score:4, Funny)

    by Again (1351325) on Monday December 14, 2009 @05:45PM (#30435920)

    Yes it is dying along with driving cars. GM lost a lot of money and so we know that people just aren't into driving cars anymore.

    And I'm pretty sure that Sony and Microsoft both lost a lot of money in the format war that went on between Blueray and HD DVD. It seems to me that Sony won that war because of the PS3.

  • PC gamers love to obsess over whether PC gaming is dying? No, Console Players obsess over that. PC Gamers just keep playing :)

  • ...I think Wii hardware sales declining have more to do with everyone who wants one freaking has one now. That's the problem with selling fast and hard, you drop off a cliff and lose all of your potential buyers because they already own it!

  • by Vorpix (60341) on Monday December 14, 2009 @05:47PM (#30435950)

    there's two questions here:

    1) is GAMING dying?
    2) is CONSOLE GAMING dying?

    1. no. people continue to want to play games. it will only grow as current gamers grow older and have kids who become new gamers.

    2. no. while PC gaming will continue to have its niche market, especially in areas where keyboard and mouse have dynamic advantages (especially MMO and RTS games), console gaming makes modern games accessible to the masses who cannot (through lack of knowledge or lack of money) continually upgrade their PC's to keep up. Consoles give a consistent platform for several years where upgrading is not necessary, and games will "just work".

    Sure during recession all forms of entertainment will suffer cuts, but gaming is far from being alone here.

  • with sales of the Wii dropping by 67 percent in the US

    Couldn't this be because enough households already have a Wii?! I mean, they make a good enough product that doesn't break every other year, and then they're surprised when sales slip... Maybe it's just that everyone already has one!

  • The story's facts are twisted up and down to try and create a story.

    For one, as stated Sony posted a huge loss OVERALL with it's gaming division being only a portion of that. Could it possibly be that with the PS3, as with every other product they try to hawk at us, Sony managed to create a product that does nothing their competitors don't yet costs much more?

    Microsoft's entertainment division's loss was paltry. $31 million for a company that is swimming in money. Nothing was said about sales popularity

  • by Eil (82413) on Monday December 14, 2009 @05:51PM (#30436006) Homepage Journal

    Is Console Gaming Dying?

    No.

    All three console manufacturers suffered from the recession -- this year

    All car manufacturers suffered from the recession. Is driving dying?

    Not even Nintendo has escaped the financial plague either, with sales of the Wii dropping by 67 percent in the US, 60 percent in Japan and 47 percent in the rest of the world.

    The Wii has been out for quite awhile too. Wii games (and therefore licensing) can continue to be massively successful, even if sales of the console peter out. You left out the fact that despite falling sales of the Wii (which can actually be a good thing if it indicates market saturation), Nintendo is actually the only one of the three that posted an overall profit.

    In addition to reduced profitability, casual games and the rise of the iPhone further suggest the current model is not invulnerable."

    Are you an idiot? The iPhone is not going to replace anyone's XBox, PS3, or Wii. Mobile phones, PC games, and console games all serve entirely different markets. None of these are going to take over the other in the foreseeable future. Stop trolling the easily-trolled Slashdot editors.

  • with a $31 million US loss coming straight from the Entertainment and Devices division, which is responsible for the Xbox 360

    Websense blocked the article but.... So, Microsoft lost money. One part of the company lost $31 million. That one part is responsible for the Xbox 360. Therefore the conclusion is that the Xbox 360 and it's ilk are doomed to failure? Sorry, but it seems to me that leap in logic could mean anything produced from Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices division was doomed to failure. Like games,... and keyboards...

    What I think is far more likely was someone was thinking of how to drive traffic from /. and othe

  • The Sony gaming loss of 58.5 billion sounds a lot less drastic when you actually measure it in US dollars, although $612 million is still nothing to sneeze at. It accounts for approximately 6% of Sony's losses, so I doubt it's the division bleeding the most at the moment.

    I don't have the Microsoft numbers off hand, but a $31 million dollar loss is infinitesimal compared to the sheer size of that company. They probably spend more money on paper and staples. Ballmer could probably support the Xbox division
    • "with a $31 million US loss coming straight from the Entertainment and Devices division"

      I am pretty sure the Entertainment and Devices division is responsible for more than just the Xbox, so equating the $31 million loss to the console is kind of a stretch. Seems to me like the Zune would fall under that category, and I'd bet they lose plenty of money on that thing as well.
  • No, console gaming is not dying, yet.

    Fine, they suffered a bit... So did pretty much everyone else - especially anyone in the entertainment industry. Money is tight, folks aren't spending as much on games. The fact that there are different consoles that don't run each-other's games just spread the money even thinner. Deal with it.

    However, I do think gaming in general is going to have to make some adjustments.

    $60 for a game that barely offers 10 hours of gameplay just isn't going to cut it. I think the

  • Does Netcraft confirm it?

  • by thule (9041) on Monday December 14, 2009 @06:20PM (#30436404) Homepage
    ...are recent games! Mario Kart for Wii and New Super Mario for DS has sold very well.
    Top 20 console games of all time [wikipedia.org]
    1. Wii Play (Wii – 24.43 million)[68]
    2. Wii Fit (Wii – 22.5 million)[68]
    3. Nintendogs (DS – 22.27 million, all five versions combined)[69]
    4. Pokémon Red, Blue, and Green (Game Boy – 20.08 million approximately: 10.23 million in Japan,[45] 9.85 million in US)[19]
    5. New Super Mario Bros. (DS – 19.94 million)[68]
    6. Mario Kart Wii (Wii – 18.36 million)[68]
    7. Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES – 18 million)[108]
    8. Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day! (DS – 17.41 million)[69]
    9. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2 - 17.33 million)[114]
    10. Pokémon Diamond and Pearl (DS – 16.81 million)[70]

    Except for the single PS2 game and Super Mario Brothers 3, DS and Wii games seem to be selling very well. It will be very interesting to see how well New Super Mario Wii sells. It has been out for three weeks and is currently clocking in near 2 million units.

My idea of roughing it turning the air conditioner too low.

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