PS3 overtakes Xbox 360 in worldwide shipments - Report

International Data Corporation study states Sony's home console (77 million) passes Microsoft's (76 million) in 2012, despite launching a year later.

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The PlayStation 3 is now the reigning king of the high-definition console market, if one report proves to be accurate. The International Data Corporation this week published a study that states worldwide PS3 shipments (77 million) surpassed global Xbox 360 shipments (76 million) in December 2012. Notably, the PS3 launched a year after the Xbox 360.

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The IDC's Worldwide Video Game and Entertainment Console Hardware and Packaged Software 2012-2016 Forecast also concluded that, despite what the naysayers may be predicting, the disc-based home console market will remain viable through at least 2014.

"The console ecosystem is in a state of flux since these platforms need to support an ever-growing array of non-gaming features and services at the same time that game distribution and monetization is moving in a digital direction," said IDC gaming research manager Lewis Ward in a statement. "At the same time, it doesn't appear that alternative platforms--set-top boxes from cable companies, Web-connected smart TVs, and so on--are positioned to materially disrupt the trajectory of the 'big 3' console OEMs in 2013 or 2014. Discs will remain the console game revenue mainstay for years to come."

Though the IDC believes disc-based systems will remain the main revenue generator for consoles in the years ahead, the group does expect the volume of packaged goods shipped to contract by 3 percent every year through 2016. This is a result of a shift in consumer spending behavior toward digital channels, the firm said.

The study also predicts that Nintendo's new Wii U console will "find an audience," with global shipments exceeding 50 million by the end of 2016. If the Wii U does achieve that mark, it will not even come close to edging out the original Wii, which to date has sold more than 97 million units.

"2011 and 2012 were tough for many console game disc developers and publishers," Ward said. "With the advent of eighth-generation consoles, starting with the Wii U, historical norms strongly imply that game disc revenue will stop bleeding in 2013 and rise substantively in 2014."

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