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Console business will rise up again, new study claims

International Data Corporation expects new boom from 2013; claims discs will remain dominant

The flagging console business will return to rude health once the new console cycle is in full flow, a new analyst report suggests.

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Publishing its 2012-2016 games industry forecast, the International Data Corporation claims that the next Xbox or PlayStation 4 will help pull the industry out of its sustained period of end-cycle declines.

"The console ecosystem is in a state of flux since these platforms need to support an ever-growing array of non-gaming features and services at the same time that game distribution and monetisation is moving in a digital direction," said research manager Lewis Ward.

Ward added that, while there is potential in new technologies such as smart TVs, there is no indication that they will disrupt the traditional console business.

"At the same time, it doesn't appear that the alternative platforms - set-top boxes from cable companies, web-connected smart TVs, and so on - are positioned to materially disrupt the trajectory of the 'big 3' console OEMs in 2013 or 2014."

"With the advent of eighth-generation consoles, starting with the Wii U, historical norms strongly imply that game disc revenue will stop bleeding in 2013 and rise substantively in 2014."

The research group also suggests that discs will remain the games industry's dominant media delivery mechanism for a number of years, though suggests that physical media is in long-term irreversible decline.

On Monday, mobile games executive Ben Cousins triggered a new debate on the future of consoles by writing in a Kotaku editorial entitled 'How and why consoles will die'.

The article suggested, though could not prove, that the Xbox and PlayStation 3 have yet to make a profit for their platform holders.

Days later, in an interview with The Verge, sony chief executive Kaz Hirai was asked about the commercial outlook for its slow selling PS Vita handheld.

"Based on the consumer feedback that we've been receiving, there is certainly a very large segment of the video game market that wants to play immersive games on a dedicated device, as opposed to playing casual games on smartphones," he responded.

"Between that and home-based consoles as well, they're not going to go away any time soon."

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