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257 Million Active Game Consoles Worldwide by 2015

Regardless of the particularly weak overall video game spending in North America this summer, the latest International Data Corporation (IDC) forecast of the worldwide video game and interactive entertainment console market points to a rebound -- beginning in 2012.

The growth will be driven by new or updated platform releases, rising game console market penetration and spending in select developing economies.

"Total console hardware and disc-based software revenues are on track to slide a few percent in 2011 compared to 2010," says Lewis Ward, research manager, Consumer Markets: Gaming, at IDC.

But fears that consoles have peaked as a product category are premature.

IDC expects that the launch of the Wii U, a revamped interactive entertainment console from Microsoft in the 2014 timeframe, and the arrival of Sony's PS4 circa 2015 -- along with more than a few exclusive, innovative games -- will help bring a new wave of console-centric spending in the next several years.

IDC forecasts direct global console hardware and disc software sale revenue will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.6 percent from 2010 to 2015, reaching $39.7 billion in 2015 with developing economy growth rates about twice those in developed markets.

Despite this rebound, the installed base of actively used game consoles won't keep pace with the number of worldwide households.

IDC expects there to be about 257 million active consoles worldwide by 2015, or 12.7 percent of anticipated households that year.

That's down about 1 percent, when compared to same console penetration figure for 2011. In this sense, it's possible to conclude that console popularity will slip due to the rise of media tablet gaming, new casual games, free-to-play or social online PC games.

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