online gaming reportWorldwide shipments of connected game and entertainment consoles will be marginally higher than 2012’s approximately 33 million bundles, the first year-over-year growth since 2009, according to a new forecast from IDC. IDC analysts also predict that Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4) will outsell Microsoft Xbox One this holiday season.

Prepaid full-game, micro-game, and add-on download revenue through connected console channels – Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Store and eShop – will exceed that from worldwide PC-based counterparts  downloaded through Steam, Origin and Amazon for the first time in 2013, according to IDC’s “Worldwide Connected Game and Entertainment Console and Connected Smart TV, Microconsole, an Set-Top Box Gaming 2013-2017.” Furthermore, connected console subscription revenue (Xbox LIVE Gold and PlayStation Plus) is rising this year while subscription-based PC game revenue (World of Warcraft) is declining.

“The number of online console gamers around the globe is on pace to exceed 165 million by 2017,” IDC research manager, Gaming Lewis Ward was quoted as saying. “As a result, the opportunity to sell these gamers digital assets through Wii U, Xbox One, and PS4 online storefronts will grow substantially in the next several years.”

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Ward also noted that “the Chinese government’s recent decision to lift the ban on consoles should lead to millions of additional hardware bundle sales for the likes of Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony within three years.”

IDC also forecasts that cable and telco gaming-capable smart TV, microconsole and set-top box (STB) gaming software revenue, including cloud-streaming options, is growing fast, though it accounts for less than 10% “of all TV-centric, digital game-related spending in 2017.”

“The differences between traditional game consoles, PCs connected to HDTVs, and a variety of set-top-boxes and smart TVs that can play games will eventually be semantic,” Ward explained. “And it appears unlikely that Nintendo, Microsoft, or Sony will be driven out of the living room from a gaming perspective by 2017 as result of non-console competition from the likes of Valve/Steam, OUYA, cable/telecom companies, or related hardware and Web service providers.”

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