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New consoles unlikely to cure 'sick retail market', says BioWare co-founder

Greg Zeschuk 'doesn't think PS4 and next Xbox are going to be that big a deal"

BioWare co-founder Dr. Greg Zeschuk, who left the company last year to pursue the next chapter in his career outside of the games industry, has painted a grim outlook for the console retail market.

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Reflecting on the recent resignations of EA CEO John Riccitiello and Square Enix president Yoichi Wada, he told GamesIndustry.biz that he doesn't see new consoles having the impact on retail sales many are pinning their hopes on.

"We are in a kind of sick market for old-school gaming - the traditional retail-based gaming - and as much as EA has moved into digital, the boxed stuff is not as robust. While digital is coming up fast it's not filling in the gaps," he said.

"Also, right now, there is this sort of classic innovator's dilemma where we see a new market emerging, but it's not really that great - with the mobile business, certain people make a lot of money but on the whole it's not generating as much revenue as the console business.

"Everyone's kind of holding out hope for the new consoles, but I honestly don't think they're going to be that big a deal. I worry a lot that unless Microsoft or Sony pull something magically out of a hat, it's pretty much the same old, same old repackaged and I don't think they're going to change the dynamic of the retail market. I don't see how they can - the market is what it is."

Former EA man Zeschuk went on to highlight Activision as a rare success story in a troubled marketplace.

"Honestly, Activision and Blizzard have been doing really well, and they've been very disciplined and focused, but how long can they continue? They've been relying on a smaller number of titles, but no title works forever, and obviously they will be working hard to replace the games they're working on.

"So they're probably one of the shining examples of company that's done well by really doubling down on a very narrow amount of things, and trying some different stuff - I'm actually really impressed with Skylanders."

Sony revealed PS4 in February, when it confirmed a PS4 release date of "holiday 2013" in at least one of Japan, Europe and the US.

Microsoft is expected to announce the next Xbox in May and launch the console later in 2013.

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