Analyst: Nongamers slow to join next-gen party

Forrester Research sees game and console makers undergoing steady progress, not major spike.


World of Warcraft

Everyone and their mother knows that the gaming industry is the tech du jour. The next generation of consoles is upon us, and companies are focused on expanding the gaming population with eye-popping graphics, multimedia functions, and interconnectivity of both communities and machines. With such seemingly unlimited potential, many think that gaming is geared up for an explosion into the mass market.

Not so fast, says independent research group Forrester Research. The latest report from the group says that gaming companies are set for some hurdles as the industry attempts to scoop up new consumers.

The current approach of turning the latest Xbox or PlayStation into an all-in-one entertainment hub in order to attract nongamers may not be enough to draw in nongamers--yet.

"While gamers will increasingly use their new consoles for non-gaming activities, this functionality will not be enough to convince non-gamers that buying a console is the answer to their digital convergence dreams," Forrester analyst Paul Jackson told the BBC.

It's no secret that developing games for the next generation costs an arm and a leg. To make more money, companies may use subscription-based models, in-game advertising, and products aimed at wider demographics. However, the impact of bringing in more gamers may not be as high as some would hope.

"More young female gamers will use portable and home console platforms; older gamers will tap into game subscription services and casual multiplayer games like poker or bridge but it will only have an incremental effect on the industry," says Jackson.

Although recent trends say that portable gaming is on the increase and PC gaming is on the decline, Jackson sees differently.

"[Portable game consoles] look like one-trick ponies compared with multifunctional mobile phones that play games or game-capable portable media players. They could well be replaced in consumers' pockets," writes Jackson.

According to Forrester, PC gaming will grow with the continuing popularity of online gaming and mass-market games. However, even with new users, PC gaming companies will still find it difficult to turn a profit. For every megapopular World of Warcraft, there are several flops in the massively multiplayer online genre. Jackson also believes that most new PC gamers will be of the casual variety, and they'll play simple online Web-based options instead of full retail games.

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