Welcome to 2014. It will be an important year as the last generation of consoles will start to fade out while the new one takes over.
This Christmas will be the time of the new generation. The last hurrah of the last gen consoles will be in its software. Some good games are still to come.
The problem however is numbers. The last gen won't sell the millions of games it used to be simply because some users migrated to the new one, some users stored their consoles away or they simply break (remember the last gen is particularly prone to this).
The next gen won't have the numbers yet. GTA V sold zillions on a market with 140+ million consoles. The recent sales numbers of Xbone + PS4 are close to 8 million in total. If you extrapolate this to Christmas we might end up with maybe 24 million end of this year (both Xbone + PS4). Thats ca. 15% of the last gen market so publishers won't expect more than 20% of the revenues counting the effect in that there aren't many games yet and people buy everything they can get their hands on.
So the revenues of all publishers will be DOWN this and the next fiscal year (ending March 2015). Still it is an important step as afterwards we will end up with a better and healthier console market simply for some of these factors:
The PS4 and Xbone embraces online much better than the last gen. This will help smaller titles to be distributed online and make smaller console teams viable.
This will also allow MMO's to migrate to the consoles helping with long term revenue and retention for these titles. This include f2p titles (and first ones are very successful like Warframe)
More importantly the architecture of both consoles are very PC like as they use PC components. This will make cross platform development much cheaper and easier helping return of investment, lessening the risk of large scale AAA game development like Assassins Creed IV or GTA V was. You can basically develop for 2 consoles and PC at once without losing too much quality. The last gen had problems due to their custom architecture. Hint: this will push PC gaming a lot as a side effect.
So I expect further consolidation in 2014 until more money is being made on the markets (including mobile, online) which will have an investment effect in 2015+ soonest, maybe even as late as 2016. In 2016 we will be back in a market of 100m+ consoles making even more money than this gen. Remember this kind of investment has a lag of one fiscal year.
What about the other markets? Mobile will still grow (and is still growing in case you doubt it) but it is getting rather populated. The market is swamped with clones of games already existing making it even worse for new innovative games to be noticed. I think this is only a temporary phase until the markets mature and both developers and providers find ways to offer better visibility and customer acquisition. Signs of this are already there.
What about me? I will have public appearances in Helsinki at one of their Universities teaching f2p:
I will also attend Casual Connect in Amsterdam participating in the Evil Game Design Challenge and talking about WoT:
Next I will attend Game Developers conference in SF analyzing the monetisation of World of Tanks:
Finally I will be in Berlin for Quo Vadis of course, ranting about our industry and giving German developers a glimpse what awaits them;
See you on one of these events or on this blog. Thank you for your loyalty and listening to my rants!