The Growing Importance of Online Gaming for Nextgen Consoles

by: Steven Towns

Excerpt from our Wall Street Breakfast, a one-page summary of this morning's key market-moving and stock-moving stories:

Video Game Wars Moving Online [New York Times]

Summary: The PlayStation 2 continues to be the best selling game console even following the release of Microsoft's Xbox 360 last year. Sony won the last round for console market share with about 60%, while Microsoft and Nintendo each had a 20% share. Both the PS2 and Xbox 360 have on-line communities totaling an estimated 3 million users each. Microsoft has invested hundreds-of-millions of dollars in its Xbox 360 network, and charges game players an annual usage fee of $50. Sony plans to offer its on-line gaming services free of charge in a more "open" format, with further details expected at a media event tomorrow. Nintendo will offer on-line features, but is emphasizing them less than it is its new Wii console's unique controller, expected to attract a broader audience to gaming. The key question is how important on-line gaming is for consumers, and if a console's on-line network can be influential enough to sway consumers. Sony may have the upper hand if it allows for free multi-player on-line gaming while offering a separate e-commerce site that will be fee-based, and thus generate revenue.
Related links: Sony Spin FactorWho Will Profit From the Gaming Console Wars?Sony PS3 Shortage Inevitable This ChristmasPlayStation 3 Mania: Stores Already Sold-Out of Pre-OrdersSeeking Alpha's Game Consoles Sector
Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Nintendo (OTCPK:NTDOY), Sony (NYSE:SNE), Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI), Electronic Arts (ERTS), Take Two (NASDAQ:TTWO), THQ (THQI), BLDRS Asia 50 ADR ETF (NASDAQ:ADRA), iShares Goldman Sachs Technology Index ETF (NYSEARCA:IGM), iShares Goldman Sachs Software Index ETF (NYSEARCA:IGV)

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