Gamers could face a wait of up to three years before successors to the Xbox 360 or PS3 are launched, anonymous sources have supposedly told Kotaku.
It says that 2014 is the date being banded about internally at both companies, though both would also consider a 2013 launch if market forces intensify.
Microsoft is said to remain undecided about the hardware structure of its new machine and has yet to commit to launching either a loss-making device – something which historically it has always been ready to do – or instead aim for day one profitability, much like Nintendo always achieves.
"I think we'll see a game of chicken between Sony and Microsoft," M2 Research analyst Billy Pidgeon stated. "Sony definitely isn't launching a successor before 2014 and could stand to benefit by having Microsoft launch first as PS3 builds in to North America and builds a strong position in Europe.
"Microsoft claims there's a lot more room in Xbox 360 for developers to max out, but here PS3 could have a strong advantage."
It's certainly true that the changing market is acting as a major disincentive for either company to rush into a new hardware launch. The downward pressure on software pricing created by Apple's App Store model and the rise of free-to-play PC gaming means that for the first time in industry history a new home console launch can fundamentally be regarded as a risk.
In addition, the world's economies remain in a fragile state and consumer spending continues to be restrained. Sony, in particular, will be keen to milk all it can from it's slow-to-get-going PS3 platform before considering migrating to new tech.