Halo 3 has finally arrived, and Microsoft is touting its sales success to anyone who will listen. However, one group of industry watchers doesn't believe it will be enough to help Microsoft "finish the fight" against rivals Sony and Nintendo.
DFC Intelligence has released its latest forecast of the industry. The firm suggested that this round of console wars won't have as clear a winner as in the past, but that the battle might result in Microsoft clearly bringing up the rear.
"Under DFC's best-case scenario for the Xbox 360, the system is in a virtual tie with both the Wii and the PlayStation 3," the analysts wrote. "However, unless the Xbox 360 can kick it into gear in the fourth quarter and through 2008, the system will probably finish in a fairly distant third. A big challenge for the Xbox 360 is building a base outside North America."
As for who will win the console race, DFC said the Wii "could be" the overall winner, but also predicted that the PS3 will hit its stride in 2009, and could finish "a strong second." The firm said that Sony might even bring in more software sales than Nintendo by 2012, even if its installed user base isn't as big.
According to DFC, the lack of a single dominant system in the industry isn't just a matter of Nintendo and Microsoft doing a better job of combating Sony with the Wii and Xbox 360 than they did with the GameCube and Xbox, respectively.
The analysts believe that the gaming arena outside of consoles is also growing, and as a result will keep any of the systems from achieving PlayStation 2-like dominance. According to the firm, PS2 software accounted for 30 percent of the entire gaming industry in 2004. For comparison, DFC is predicting that even the best-performing console between 2010 and 2012 will at most account for 15 percent of the overall industry.
"One of the fastest-growing segments of the interactive entertainment market is actually PC games," DFC's report noted, a fact that points to the platform as an ideal place for developers to try out new genres and business models. "The PC game business is expected to grow over 80 percent over the next five years."