Death of the video game console market greatly exaggerated

The big test of the health of the video game console market will come later this year when both Microsoft and Sony release nextgen versions of their market leading systems.

Video game Grand Theft Auto smashed sales records after being on the market for just one day.
Video game Grand Theft Auto smashed sales records after being on the market for just one day.
Video game Grand Theft Auto smashed sales records after being on the market for just one day.

Maybe the video game console market isn’t dead after all. Or maybe it’s just teasing us, like a scene from a Monty Python movie, “minor flesh wound!”

The Verge reports that Grand Theft Auto V raked in $800 million in its first day of sales. It’s officially the fastest-selling game in the series, and “could go on to be the fastest-selling game ever made.”

The news appears to contradict the widely held belief that the video game console is dead. With the explosion of gaming on tablets and smartphones, there’s no question the industry is not in the same rosy state it was circa 2006 when the Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 took the market by storm. In concert with micro-priced apps, casual gaming has boomed. Why bother heading to the family room when you can just pull out your iPhone and play (help us all) Candy Crush Saga?

But, $800 million.

Wow.

Remember, as the article points out, it took the heavily marketed James Cameron film Avatar (3D… what did I tell you!?) 17 days to reach the $1 billion mark. In 2011 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 reached it in only 16 days. Either way, of course, both spectacular results. But it shows the increasing power of products that engage end users–video games make us all part of the story, and enable us to influence its outcome.

Later this year the big test of the health of the video game console market will come when both Microsoft and Sony release nextgen versions of their market leading systems (I’m all in for the PS4).

I’m of the view that the industry will survive. It has to. Not everyone wants to play games on mobile. Big blockbuster games will always have a market, even if that means a smaller audience of hardcore gamers. Play Bioshock or The Last of Us on a console and then try to find a similar experience on the iPad. Not going to happen. Because it doesn’t exist. That may change. Each year, of course, tablets and smartphones get more powerful. It doesn’t take that much of a leap to envision graphics processing and power that rivals PCs and dedicated video game consoles. That day has yet to come. And Rockstar Games’ (Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.) $800 million haul after just one day of sales seems to prove that, for now at least, consoles are alive and well.

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