This cycle will be entirely different

* The industry has moved on from a cyclical pattern to a smoother line of growth because of the introduction of a new direct to consumer value chain emerging through online games which devs/publishers can exploit as well.

* The next-gen console may be an entirely different format recognising the growth in digital distribution, which in turn will be about bite-size gaming experiences rather than huge day one sales and marketing activities. This will negate the need for major console launches to rejuvenate a declining market.

* We are only three years into the current cycle with all manufacturers on board at the same time. Historically, the third, fourth and fifth years are the best in terms of sales (and getting the most out of the console architecture) so until 2011 is out of the way, the industry should not be thinking about new arrivals.

* Publishers can concentrate all of a studio’s efforts on known SDKs rather than having to tool up for a new breed.

We must believe that this cycle will be entirely different – longer than previous cycles but new technologies creating new revenue drivers in the online space exist today and will totally change the old games industry eco-system.

Of course, new add-on hardware, as long as it creates real benefits for users, will assist sales. Motion capture could slow down the inevitable decline but, if it works, it will be around for years to come, whatever the console – it will be part of the revolution of gaming experience rather than a shot in the arm to temporarily help out a tired generation of consoles.

As for the vast majority of consumers, they get the most excitement out of the games they play rather than the launch of a new console (look at the raft of exciting titles which held up PS2 in its latter years or what Donkey Kong Country did for SNES in 1994 when the console was on its last legs).

It is only the geeky early adopters (and journalists) who work themselves up into a frothy mess when a new console is announced.

Remember, the best games during a console’s lifecycle are not at the beginning but in the mid to end. So even if a new console is launched in 2013 don’t expect the quality of games to improve overnight.

To read more about the extended console lifecycles of the current main home consoles, click here to read MCV’s full length feature

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