What will 2008 bring to video gaming? #1 Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.


Happy new year. And back to work! As is traditional at this time of year I will try and give some pointers to what I think may happen over the next twelve months. Firstly let’s look at the current situation. According to VG Chartz there are now 8.71 million Sony PS3s sold to end users, whilst the Microsoft Xbox 360 has sold nearly twice as many at 16.02 million, but has been overtaken by the Nintendo Wii with 19.45 million. All three of these are dwarfed by ownership of the Nintendo DS which has 64.92million happy owners, far more than the three previous machines combined. The PSP continues to sell with 29.79 million but most of these are used as media players, not as gaming machines.

Sony PS3 sales were given a big kick by the price reduction, despite the lack of AAA exclusives on the machine. This year sees massive system sellers such as Metal Gear Solid 4 and LittleBigPlanet which at long last will give the PS3 credibility and make it a worthwhile purchase. The delayed Playstation Home has the potential to be huge. Unlike Xbox Live this is geared up very much to be an online social networking community and we all know how big they can become. Sony should recover their position a lot during 2008, they need to with the amount of money this is costing them.

Microsoft have already pulled off what may well be the biggest marketing coup of 2008. Grand Theft Auto IV on the 360 is going to have a lot of exclusive downloadable content that the PS3 won’t have. Considering that this will certainly be the biggest game of the year this exclusive content will swing a lot of buying decisions over to 360. Other than this Microsoft have more games coming out for the 360 than Sony has for the PS3 and a lot of room to use the price mechanism to maintain their market position.

The Nintendo Wii could very well be a bubble that is already bursting. Or it could build on the existing solid base to become an entertainment phenomenon. Wii Fit will keep the impetus going through Q1&2 whilst Animal Crossing will be massive in Q4. These alone will probably be insufficient so Nintendo need some AAA third party titles. Nintendo like to upgrade their hardware so we could see an enhanced Wii with, for instance, a hard drive. Also a more powerful HD console must be on the way.

The DS for Nintendo threatens to become a ubiquitous device like the Walkman was for Sony. This year should see another upgrade with bigger screens. Nintendo are perfectly placed to make a telephone version (with a partner like, say, NEC?) which could deal a huge blow to both Nokia and Apple.

What is certain is that this generation is still in it’s infancy. There are still over 130 million owners of last generation consoles who have yet to upgrade (mainly PS2 owners waiting to see if the PS3 will be worth buying). If you add in the constant growth of the market and the popularising effect of the Wii then there could easily be a market for a further 200 million home consoles in this generation. Four and a half times more than have been sold to date.

A big factor this generation will be multiple machine ownership. To a far higher level than in previous generations. This is because there are so many must have games that are platform exclusives. This means that the real war between Microsoft and Sony will increasingly be fought between Xbox Live and Playstation Home. So expect both companies to put a lot of effort into these online platforms.

A big tactic this generation has been to stratify each console into a product range and to bundle games with consoles to give higher perceived value (something that was overdone in the days of the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST). Expect this to be continued this year with top end versions of the 360 and PS3 featuring large hard drives and enticing bundles of AAA games.

That is a very quick overview. It is impossibly to say who will do best out of the three. This generation of consoles is spectacularly good at making analyst’s predictions look stupid. One major change that has emerged is that Microsoft are now a player at the top table in the console industry. Just watching how they use this new found position will be fascinating.


  1. Come on! Recently I’ve been thinking that you should post 10 predictions for 2008 an track how many turn out to be true. Lo and behold today when I saw the beginning of your post I knew I was late.

    You can make it a bit more formal, though. No 1, No 2 etc… 😉

    Happy New Year!

  2. I haven’t checked the number of consoles sales for quite a while now so its surprising to see how much they have all increased. Especially the DS last time I checked it was on 35 million units. ><

    I don’t agree with you about Microsoft being at such an advantage with the additional GTA4 content. Infact I don’t think that GTA4 will be as successful as the previous games because a big part of GTA3 – GTA SA success was from a more casual gaming market. At the current time this market is preoccupied with the Wii and the high price points and daunting complex games of the PS3 and Xbox 360 aren’t really appealing. Furthermore to access this content they’d need Xbox Live. I just don’t for see it being such a big pay off dor Microsoft.

    Also I don’t agree with you about the Wii starting to slip. I don’t think that 3rd party content is all that important for the Wii. I think that Wii Fit will explode like anything fo the casual market and is likely to exceed the success of Brain Training. And 1st party games like Smash Bros and Mario Kart should keep more dedicated gamers happy. I think that the occasional quality 3rd party titles and a continually strong presence on the Wii’s Virtual Console should be enough. And then Wii Ware is coming around sometime as well.

    And yes, Nintendo need to release a Wii hard drive.

    I don’t think that we’ll see any console changes or major upgrades this year.

    Great predictions overall though. I only disagree with those points. ^_^

  3. @ Daniel Primed

    Hi Daniel. What with the announcement of Skype coming to the PSP, Sony to manufacture 16 gigabyte SD cards, Sony Store coming to PSP, the possibility of Blue-Ray coming to PSP and the many other functionalities currently available AND approaching the PSP, Sony are aware consumers do NOT use the PSP primarily for gaming. Read any community PSP websites and 99% of the posts are NOT about gaming but obtaining multimedia or utlising other features of the PSP.

    I suspect for the majority of PSP users, it is not primarily a gaming platform.

    ps. I own one with two games. I never play the games but I use it to watch films, listen to music, surf the net and even control my PS3 remotely.

  4. Ah thats an excellent point. I somehow totally overlooked that. ^_^

    I agree Sony know that consumers are using the media functions but I don’t think that they are relaing more add-ons for these types of people. Sony have constantly had to update the firmware of the PSP to stop all of the hacking, modifications, bascially all of the grey stuff.

    Now if you look at how they market these new devices (camera, GPS etc.) they aren’t aiming at this techy crowd but rather the casual gaming ‘lifestyle’ crowd. ie. they are trying to be like Nintendo with the whole casual market gig.

  5. I am one of those old PS2 owners who are still waiting to see if it is really worth the $400 price point to own the PS3. One thing in favor of it is the Blu-Ray capacity. I figure that you get not just a game console but a Blu-Ray player whic, if purchased as a stand-alone would cost at least that much. That makes the PS3 more attractive to me (I do have to say that I have been an owner of PSP consoles since the beginning and am still loyal to the brand. I think I could be convinced to switch to one of the others but it would have to be because of features beyond gaming).

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