Activision: Xbox Infinity, PS4 May Face Same Wii U Woes

There's certainly a lot riding on Sony and Microsoft in 2013. The gaming industry has been waiting for the arrival of the next generation for quite a while, fearing another industry crash, as seen in the early 1980s, if new products weren't revealed soon. The Nintendo Wii U beat them both to the punch, but has suffered lackluster sales since the beginning of the year.

Earlier this month Nintendo, blamed the slow Wii U adoption on customer confusion and a lack of premium first-party games. But is that indeed the case? Or has the global economy taken such a beating that customers just aren't willing to spend big bucks on an entertainment device that can't be used on the go? Tablets are selling like hotcakes, especially the smaller sizes, and these provide cheap but quality gaming the big three have yet to really harness.

“There are still many unknown factors, such as pricing, launch dates and quantities, the level of first-party support and, importantly, consumer purchase intent in a world where consoles are no longer just competing with each other, but also with new platforms, such as smartphones and tablets," said Activision CEO Bobby Kotick.

Not only are next-gen consoles competing with each other and mobile devices, but a wave of Android consoles are set to arrive in June like the OUYA and Nvidia's Project Shield. Throw in the fact that customers can purchase a high performance desktop or notebook at a low price – and they do more than just play games, movies and TV shows – and there's a wider arena than just the Big Three duking it out at Walmart. It's a different playing field than it was three or four years ago.

Kotick, who spoke during the company's recent Q1 2013 Earning conference call, hinted that Microsoft and Sony will likely face the same challenges as Nintendo has faced since the Holiday 2012 season. So far the back half of 2013 looks more "challenging" than previously expected.

"While we have had a solid start to the year, we now believe that the risks and uncertainties in the back half of 2013 are more challenging than our earlier view, especially in the holiday quarter," said Kotick. "The shift in release dates of competing products, the disappointing launch of the Wii U, uncertainties regarding next-generation hardware, and subscriber declines in our World of Warcraft business all raise concerns, as do continued challenges in the global economy."

Because of this, Activision will remain cautious. "The newest console, the Wii U, has had a very slow start,” Kotick added later. "All of these factors further heighten our concerns heading into the back half of the year, particularly during the very competitive fourth quarter."

It's undoubtedly a scary year for publishers and developers who must sit back and see how consumers react and what they will eventually do towards the end of the year, and into 1Q 2014. Sure, customers will eat up the new consoles during the holiday season, but will sales sizzle out come January 2014?

More conference call coverage can be read here. Hopefully we'll have a better angle on what's to come next month during E3 2013.

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  • I think the new Xbox and PS will do decently. They both have exclusive content to them, and their devote fanboi's. The Wii U is basically a Wii, which is basically a Gamecube. They may think people want stupid controllers, but they don't.
  • The WiiU's biggest problem is that there's nothing next-gen about it. It doesn't even quite match up to the existing 360 and PS3. Developers are going to avoid it because it's going to be too slow compared to the new consoles from MS and Sony.
    The controller having a video screen is gimped by the fact that it only can work with one controller, and the controller itself is expensive.
    So what does the WiiU really have going for it? It's hard to make a compelling case for buying it. Good first party titles might help, because of the few cross-platform games they do get, most of them will be better on another console anyway.
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  • I think the new Xbox and PS will do decently. They both have exclusive content to them, and their devote fanboi's. The Wii U is basically a Wii, which is basically a Gamecube. They may think people want stupid controllers, but they don't.
  • People said the same thing about Wii("They may think people want stupid controllers, but they don't. ") and it sold well enough and both Sony and Microsoft came out with motion control systems shortly after.
    I do agree the tablet controller is a bit strange and without multi-touch, it limits its use outside of basic gaming. Think of lock picking in Elder Scrolls with that thing and multi touch.
  • I think they're being conservative with their sales projections just in case. If the investors are expecting low sales, they'll be pleasantly suprised if sales are higher. I don't expect the 720's and PS4's sales to be as lackluster as the Wii U. The Wii U suffered from low 1st/2nd party launch support, an unpopular name, a high price (compared to it's specs), and many console fans waiting to see what Microsoft and PS4 would offer before choosing their next gen console. I don't expect Sony and Microsoft to suffer the same problems, in fact, I think they may have some of the highest 1st year adoption rates of any generation yet. Both Sony and Microsoft have hinted that their systems will cost less at launch than last gen. Both are apparently going to have a decent amount of 1st and 2nd party launch support (Sony has unveiled 2 launch exclusives so far, with rumors of another 3 to be shown at E3, rumors suggest that Microsoft has as many as 9 exclusives in development though how many will be ready for launch is unknown). Most of this Holiday seasons 3rd party games are going to be cross-gen, so many may buy a next gen system just to get better graphics and other improvements.