With the coming next-generation video game consoles from Microsoft and Sony, both companies are looking toward a future where much of the industry's sales come via online stores. Though Microsoft's scheme to lock down the Xbox One with DRM and cut out used game sales did not go over well with consumers, digital storefront sales on both consoles are expected to rise in the coming years.
Market research firm IDC today predicted that digital revenue from consoles with beat out digital revenue on PCs for the first time ever this year. This comes along with the safe prediction that the new consoles will contribute to a small rise in overall video game console sales this year. Consoles sales for 2013 are predicted to reach 33 million, a small rise from 2012 and the first rise in console sales since 2008. The firm also predicts that the less-expensive PlayStation 4 console will slightly outsell the Xbox One console this holiday season.
"The number of online console gamers around the globe is on pace to exceed 165 million by 2017," said Lewis Ward, research manager for Gaming at IDC. "As a result, the opportunity to sell these gamers digital assets through Wii U, Xbox One, and PS4 online storefronts will grow substantially in the next several years."
The IDC report also referenced "smart" and streaming devices that could enable gaming on TVs without the use of traditional consoles. Though gaming revenue from such devices is rising, the firm predicts that they will still represent less than 10% of digital gaming revenue in four years.
"The differences between traditional game consoles, PCs connected to HDTV's, and a variety of set-top-boxes and smart TVs that can play games will eventually be semantic," explained Ward. "And it appears unlikely that Nintendo, Microsoft, or Sony will be driven out of the living room from a gaming perspective by 2017 as result of non-console competition from the likes of Valve/Steam, OUYA, cable/telecom companies, or related hardware and Web service providers."