Home Gaming Is Pachter silly for saying the console install base will never get bigger?

Is Pachter silly for saying the console install base will never get bigger?

4 min read

The end is nigh

We keep reporting on the ridiculous sales figures for this console generation. The PS4 and Xbox One are selling faster than last generation’s consoles, and are continuing to sell rather well around the world. If you believe Michael Pachter, though, this generation won’t be any bigger than last generation – and this is the last real console life cycle that we’ll see.

Remember before the launch of the PS4 and Xbox One tons of analysts were saying it was silly for them to do it, that console gaming was dead and mobile gaming was the only thing? Well, mobile gaming is declining and consoles are selling well, but that’s not stopping analyst Michael Pachter from predicting the end of days.

Speaking at DICE Europe, Pachter explained his number crunching:

The Wii U is going to sell 20 million units compared to 100 million for the Wii. The PlayStation 4 is going to sell 120 million or 130 million – that’s great. The Xbox One will sell 100 million to 110 million – that’s great. Add it all together and it’s 260 million units, maybe, and the last cycle was 270 million.

[…] This is the last real console cycle. I don’t mean that Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo will go bankrupt and shut down – they will not. Each of them will make another console, some people will buy them, and the next console cycle will be to this console cycle what the 3DS is to the DS. The 3DS is selling about 15 million units a year, the DS had five consecutive years where it sold more than 26 million. So about half as big.

So when I say that this console cycle is the last console cycle, the reason is that console games shouldn’t require a console. And I’m not talking about the cloud.

According to Pachter, games require a CPU, a GPU, storage, a controller and a display. However, as set-top boxes and smartphones become more sophisticated, there will be no reason to buy a console. Instead, the latest iPhone, Apple TV or Amazon Fire will have the juice needed to run Call of Duty or FIFA. Pachter argues that there’s a market of several million people who would never buy a console to play a game, but would definitely buy a game if it could run on their existing hardware.

I think the traditional gamer market – which has high standards – does broaden. But the only way you actually see a step function change in that is to pull the console out of the equation, and make it open to people who can’t afford or won’t buy a console.

I think this shift to full-game digital downloads, where everybody has the opportunity to play a game without having to invest $399 is a huge opportunity. It’s an opportunity for everyone in the value chain, except the retailer and maybe the console manufacturer.

Maybe I’m stuck in the past, but I’m just not sure that I can agree with Pachter. Sure, plenty of people would buy specific games if it didn’t require also picking up a console. However, consoles are increasingly seen as the center of the living room, as much as we might laugh at Xbox for promoting it that way. It’s not that people buy a console to watch TV, but it is a way that the purchase is justified for many. Even my non-gaming friends (yes, I do have some) have looked at buying a console as a Blu Ray player and Netflix device that could also be used to play the odd game – particularly party games. In the era of smart phones and increased consumer technology, dishing out a few hundred dollars or a few thousand Rands for a gaming console just isn’t that strange – it’s about half the price for a console as it is for a phone, and plenty of people get new phones every year or two. At least a console is a expected to last longer than that.

I’m not sure I agree with Pachter’s assessment. It seems like someone with an older view of the world trying desperately to seem really modern. It just doesn’t ring true. Then again, I could just be the one with her head buried in the sand.

Last Updated: September 22, 2015


  1. (Umar) Must be Cipher

    September 22, 2015 at 10:38

    Is Pachter silly?…Yes.


  2. (Umar) Must be Cipher

    September 22, 2015 at 10:38

    Is Pachter silly?…Yes.


    • Chris A. Faux

      September 22, 2015 at 12:24

      Came here to say this. Thank you.


  3. Alien Emperor Trevor

    September 22, 2015 at 10:38

    He doesn’t seem to account for games becoming more complicated and requiring more hardware resources as they push the boundaries of what can be accomplished in the medium.


  4. RinceThis

    September 22, 2015 at 10:42

    What a silly man.


    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      September 22, 2015 at 10:44

      I wonder if there’s a list of all his predictions that’ve turned out to be wrong. Because it seems to happen fairly regularly, almost as if expert predictions on the future of complicated systems are no better than guesswork.


      • RinceThis

        September 22, 2015 at 10:53

        How DARE you suggest he us pulling thumb! He is an eggspert!


        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          September 22, 2015 at 10:54

          I always wondered why e-sperts stood for.


  5. RinceThis

    September 22, 2015 at 10:42

    What a silly man.


  6. Sageville

    September 22, 2015 at 10:55

    Analysts should stick to analyzing facts and leave the future predictions to…. actually I’ve yet to see any useful predictions other than those bases on formulae like moore’s law.


    • Ir0nseraph

      September 22, 2015 at 11:58

      He might make predictions based on numbers for the gaming industry, but I don’t think that man has ever been a gamer.


    • Her Highness the Hipster

      September 22, 2015 at 12:24

      i dunno, Gavin made some predictions that are looking scarily accurate…


      • Sageville

        September 22, 2015 at 12:31

        Pffft! That’s just the simple formulaic application of Psychohistory, I tell ya!


  7. Kromas untamed

    September 22, 2015 at 11:00

    These guys predicted the PC would be dead within 5 years after the PS1 was launched. So yeah … they be cray cray.


  8. Greylingad[CNFRMD]

    September 22, 2015 at 11:01

    I’m not convinced about his prediction, not enough fairies or unicorns included….


  9. Grand Admiral Chief

    September 22, 2015 at 11:02

    In other news, the D lost his virginity


    • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

      September 22, 2015 at 11:04



  10. Ryanza

    September 22, 2015 at 11:24

    The last generation of consoles, 8 years, Xbox 360 good console for the first 3 years then showed it’s age and PS3 good console when developers could get the code right for the damn thing, so good console from year 4 to 6.
    At the end the numbers got close to balance.

    This gen is way different. Xbox One is gimped by initially needing the internet to get it to work. That will have to change if Microsoft wants to sell more than 50 million units.

    If PS4 is going to sell 120 million consoles then Xbox One will be around 60 – 70 million.

    The Wii U not selling as well as Wii, does mean that the total numbers will be down this gen. We can’t assume that most of Wii customers are buying Xbox One or PS4. They most likely buying nothing or going mobile.
    If the Wii U sells 20 million consoles that means there is about 80 million that’s just gone.

    And if this gen is going for a 5 – 6 year cycle. My guess, PS4 120 million, Xbox One 70 million (maybe even less, with those numbers going to PS4) and Wii U 20 million (Pachter).

    Don’t Support DRM


  11. Raptor Rants

    September 22, 2015 at 15:21

    You need a GPU, CPU and display yes. HOWEVER and this is where Patcher’s viewpoint is slightly flawed, all of that comes with power vs heat issues.

    Yes phones are pushing out a lot of juice. But have you ever noticed how fast your battery drains? Then you plug in to a power source and play and what happens? The phone becomes immensely hot. So mobile is not the answer. So next step? Set top.. Right so let’s examine this. Set top boxes running android run the same graphical processors as phones and tablets do. So we can go there sure. So you plug in some cooling and viola. Cooling helps prevent a meltdown.

    HOWEVER these are still GPU’s designed for mobile devices and while they are powerful they do not have the capacity for the huge amounts of instructions needed for a fully fledged AAA game to truly function as it should. Again this is due to a design restriction because of phones.

    So what’s the answer? Well to put in a fully fledged GPU. That my friend, is what you call a console. Console is not dead. You will still have to pay money equal to what you pay now for enough power and cooling to create a device you can AAA game on.

    PS: Even the set top android devices are still CONSOLES.

    So your market may shift (maybe) but the biggest flaw that is present in his argument that less and less will get involved in consoles because of phones is……. *drum roll please*

    3rd party support!!!!!!!!!!!! *confetti*

    As long as developers and publishers keep pushing AAA games to their primary platforms (XBone, PS and PC) other consoles will not surpass. This is why the WiiU failed. 3rd Party support is the biggest reason why console gaming will never become less and less.

    I am not a console gamer as such (I own a PS2 and my main platform is PC) but I know for a fact I would not buy an Android based device to play android games on a set top box when I could buy a proper console. I also know devs won’t change their main platform to Android based systems. They want, they NEED their console market and that market is strong.

    Patcher, you are wrong.

    End of story



    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      September 22, 2015 at 15:32



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