EA CEO: Console transition is over

John Riccitiello predicts 200 million current-gen systems sold by 2013, says merger and acquisition opportunities are drying up.

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Happy days are here again for the game industry, according to Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello. In a presentation to the Reuters Media Summit in New York yesterday, Riccitiello said the "longest, hardest transition in the history of the industry" was finally over, according to a report from the wire news service.

"Last Friday marked one of those points where you can say something's changed," he was quoted as saying. "Around the world, based on the data I've got, it was pretty clear that the transition is now over."

Last Friday was Black Friday in the US, the day after Thanksgiving and the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. Both Nintendo and Microsoft have touted their sales figures for that week, with the former selling 1 million systems between the DS and Wii, and the latter moving more than 310,000 Xbox 360s. While Sony hasn't put an exact number on its sales for the week, it did say that PlayStation 3 sales had tripled.

Riccitiello also said the PS3's performance of late has convinced him that this console generation will be a "three-horse race," saying it didn't always look like the PS3 would be able to compete with the Xbox 360 and the Wii.

"I think from this point, pleasantly for me, it's sort of fat city in the game industry," Riccitiello said, predicting that current-generation console sales would hit the 200 million mark in 2012 or 2013.

The EA CEO also addressed the issue of mergers and acquisitions in the industry. Having announced the $855 million purchase of BioWare-Pandemic last month, Riccitiello was not bullish on further consolidation, either by his company or others in the industry.

"Is it ripe or has it already been picked? I would argue that it's been largely picked," Riccitiello said. "That doesn't mean it's done. I think there will be more consolidation to come. But let's just say a lot has already happened."

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