Screen Digest's Piers Harding-Rolls has explained the analysts' thinking on its recent prediction that new console hardware will arrive in 2013 or 2014 "at the earliest."
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz yesterday, he said of Nintendo's Wii that "We expect it to have a shorter lifecycle than the high definition consoles" and thus expected a new Nintendo console sooner than a next-gen PlayStation or Xbox. "We're actually pitching it for an end of 2012 Japan release and the rest of world in 2013."
However, he felt there may be a Nintendo hardware revision before that time. "Our forecast actually incorporates the idea that there will be an upgraded version of the Wii available.
"There is potentially significant movement to come from Wii pricing in the future. If you look at the handheld strategy they've got the DSi and the 3DS, so I think they've got room to have to this iterative version before a 2012 or 2013 release."
In terms of Microsoft, he felt the arrival date of new hardware was contingent on the success of Kinect. "A 2013 launch is actually a significantly extended cycle compared to the original Xbox. So it is developing the longevity of the cycle. Kinect is going to play a part of it. It does depend how strong Kinect is in terms of adoption.
"At the moment we see it as an elongation, more staving off the decline of the platform. Not something that's really going to drive massive adoption or a reenergising of the platform so to speak, ticking over until a new platform comes."
However, he felt that long-tail rather than launch sales were key to how long Microsoft would push Kinect rather than turn to new hardware. "The situation I'm looking for not what at happens at launch but what happens in the six month range. If it starts to gain some significant momentum we would have to look at changing our forecasts."
When asked if Kinect failing to perform might lead to Microsoft moving more rapidly to a new console, he was unconvinced it would be practicable. "There is probably some movement in terms of a launch window for a new platform, but it will always take time to design and develop these platforms and to get enough content on.
"Bringing it forward might be possible from a technology viewpoint, but from your content partners' viewpoint it might not be so easy."
He felt, however, that Microsoft's motion controller was a stronger prospect than Sony's PlayStation Move, describing the latter more as "peripheral play" and dependent on how Sony bundled it.
"I think Kinect's got the potential to have more of an impact - the way Microsoft are approaching it, bundling it for a new audience. That potential late stage user, the more casual people who bought the PS2 in its late stages with content that was much more mainstream, like Singstar."
Screen Digest felt new Sony hardware proper would arrive in 2014, and that "We wait to see what the Wii does in response" to Kinect and Move.