online gaming reportInternet gaming consoles have been the most common connected entertainment device for years now, but their presence in U.S. broadband households will drop below 50% by 2019, according to a game consoles forecast from Parks Associates.

Unit sales have been dropping for nearly 10 years as broadband households have increasingly turned to alternative mobile and casual gaming platforms, such as smartphones and tablets, Parks highlights in a press release.

The ability of cloud platforms and virtual reality (VR) headsets to stream apps across multiple devices is ushering in a new phase of online gaming market and industry evolution, according to Parks’ NUMBERS research.

Implications of Game Consoles Forecast
“Console makers have always known that the highest ongoing revenue potential is in content, whether that is physical media, cloud-based game streaming, or streaming video content,” Parks’ director of research Barbara Kraus elaborated.

Makers of connected TVs and streaming media players have been exploring ways of fostering more online game playing as sales of traditional gaming consoles fall, she continued. ¨PlayStation Now is streaming games through select Samsung TV models. Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Nvidia Shield are focused on providing high-performance, high-quality games with an eye towards increasing the size of the gaming market.”

Console makers for their part are trying new form factors to stem declining unit sales. Industry reports say that a forthcoming new console from Nintendo may serve as both a home console and hand-held device, Parks points out. VR headsets is another form factor manufacturers are experimenting with.

When it comes to VR-enabled devices, the Oculus Rift came out at the end of March, the HTC Vive VR was slated for an April 5 launch, and the Sony PlayStation VR is due to launch in October. Sony PlayStation VR will be the only connected game console to support VR at present, however, Kraus noted.

¨The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are PC-based. Samsung’s Gear VR is only compatible with Samsung Galaxy smartphones and not with any model prior to the Galaxy 6 model.Gaming is the major initial use case for VR, but this innovation could be disruptive enough to attract a much broader audience. Sony is aware of its immense potential, as the company has dropped hints its VR set will be compatible with devices other than its PlayStation, so that its device won’t be locked to one platform,” she added.