Game Over

Horace Dediu and Dirk Schmidt analyze the sales numbers for Nintendo and Sony game consoles. The trend is bleak and clear:

The graphs above combine both Nintendo portable/consoles and Sony portable/console sales. Note the similarity in patterns of growth. It’s one thing to suggest that Nintendo consoles have “failed”, it’s another to show that Nintendo consoles and portables have failed, and yet another to show that two competitors in the games business seem to be failing in unison across all their product lines. The cyclicality is also over a long period of time: The peak for the combined Sony/Nintendo was in 2008, five years ago.

No coincidence about the timing of that peak. It coincides with the beginning of the post-PC era.

The implications are that Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are beyond the point of no return in this industry. Gaming, as a business, cannot be sustained as a platform independent of a general purpose computer. Like other “applications” that used to have systems built around them conforming to their needs the dedicated-purpose solutions came to be absorbed into the general-purpose platforms. And the modern general purpose computer is the smartphone.

My only quibble is with that last word, smartphone. Tablets are just as big a part of this trend. Better, I think, not to treat smartphones and tablets as separate categories, but merely as different sizes of the same thing.

Monday, 9 September 2013