Wednesday, January 04, 2006

In-Stat: Online Gaming Gets Big Boost From Consoles, Handhelds

In-Stat has issued a new report that finds "video game consoles and handheld game consoles are greatly expanding the market for online gaming." In-Stat forecasts that "worldwide console and handheld online gaming subscribers numbered 3.4 million in 2004, and could exceed 30 million by 2009."

Brian O’Rourke at In-Stat said, "Microsoft is the only console maker so far to launch a paid subscription service. And we expect the release of the Xbox 360 and additions to its subscription service to accelerate Microsoft to just under 50% annual subscriber growth between 2004 and 2009.”

In-Stat found the following:

  • Sony currently believes that a paid service is too large a barrier to console online gaming, and uses free online play primarily to reinforce customer loyalty.
  • Nintendo has taken a hands-off approach to online console gaming thus far, but is taking a very aggressive approach in handheld console gaming, setting up a network of Wi-Fi hotspots in Japan, North America and Europe to host its free DS online service.
  • Sony has launched several networked gaming titles for its PSP handheld console in 2005. However, Sony has not been as active as Nintendo in setting up hotspot networks or marketing the online service.
The potential for multiplayer online mobile gaming is just heating up and the games I've tried so far (SOCOM for the PSP) fit in perfectly with the snacksize 15 minutes for a mobile game mentality. I plan to test out some Nintendo DS online games very soon too, but haven't tried anythng on my smartphone yet. In fact I'm not even sure anything is available. I guess it might be cost-prohibitive since developers would have to port versions for each carrier, platform and handset...