It will be high-def movies, not games, that ultimately
decide the next-gen game console wars
, says a just-released industry forecast
from a top analyst firm, reports Home Media Retailing.
"Notwithstanding the efforts of console manufacturers to deliver compelling
exclusive content, we believe that the ultimate outcome of the console wars
will be decided by the motion picture studios," said Michael Pachter, senior
analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities, in the "2006 Industry Report -- Flirting
with Disaster, Will Sony’s Battle with Toshiba Determine the Outcome of
the Console Transition?"
Sony's highly-anticipated PlayStation 3 console is due to launch worldwide this
November and will be driven by Blu-Ray. Microsoft's XBox 360 arrived late last
year without support for high-definition DVD, though the company plans to introduce
in the third quarter of this year an add-on peripheral that will allow the console
to play HD-DVD discs. (Nintendo announced last week it will also debut
its next-gen game device, dubbed Wii, in 2006, though it will not support
either Blu-Ray or HD-DVD.)
Citing standard DVD playback as key to Sony's previous success with the PlayStation
2 four years ago (it remains the market's current best-selling game console),
the report says a growing hunger among consumers for increasing multimedia functionality
will tip the scales in favor of one next-gen game system over the other -- provided
the major studios jump on board with software support.
"Should the studios embrace Sony’s Blu-Ray standard for high-definition
discs, we think Sony will gain an insurmountable advantage over Microsoft,"
continued Pachter. "Should the studios embrace Sony rival Toshiba's HD-DVD
format, we think that Microsoft can maintain its first mover advantage and will
dominate software sales for years to come."
The report also predicts that it will ultimately be the PlayStation 3 that emerges
victorious primarily due to Hollywood's widespread support for Blu-Ray, despite
the console's launch lagging a full year behind Xbox 360.
"We expect Xbox 360 to enjoy a first-mover advantage for the next two years...
[though] the dominant console at the end of the next cycle will be the PS3,
primarily due to our assessment that Sony will win the high-definition format
war," said Pachter.