A recent study of the state of the videogame industry by Michael Pachter and Edward Woo - analysts at Wedbush Morgan Securities - has revealed some interesting predictions for the future. Aside from forecasting general trends, the study also made some specific calculations regarding the costing of future Sony hardware.
Whilst the $249.99 estimate for the PSP launch price seems reasonable enough, the possible $700 price tag for the PS3 seems markedly more radical. If the PS3 is to incorporate PSX-like or TiVo facilities, it would apparently cost $500 to manufacture in the early stages. However, by 2006, Pachter and Woo have suggested that production costs could be brought down to around $250, which would enable a launch price closer to the $500 mark. Even if this is the case, such costs may prove to be prohibitively expensive, with the study concluding that "At this level, we believe that many consumers will be alienated."
It's a consideration that Sony is sure to address, most likely via one of two principal strategies. Either the PS3 will be sold at an initial loss, or the console will be sold as a key component in the drive towards technological convergence. If prospective PS3 owners can browse the internet, watch and record digital television, play music, play games and so on, then perhaps they would be willing to spend beyond the normal budget for a games-focused machine.
Elsewhere in the report, there were encouraging predictions about industry-wide growth, estimated to be at a rate of 10% per year up until 2010. This is based on the expansion of the marketplace, with increased interest from females, more resourceful 'tweens' (the 8-14 age bracket) and increased numbers of older gamers.
It is also thought that US publishers will enjoy increased sales in Japan over the next few years, and that PC gaming will reach its all-time peak later in 2004. Sales of Doom 3, Sims 2 and Half-Life 2 are expected to push figures to hitherto unseen levels.
Whether this report reflects genuine psychic talents or merely adds bulk to some clumsy assumptions is difficult to tell at this point in time. We'll let you know if it bears truth in about six years. Stay tuned!