PS4 to beat Xbox in holiday season sales

The number of online console gamers will also keep on rising, IDC predicted

Sony's PlayStation 4's lower price will help it to outsell Microsoft's upcoming Xbox One during the year-end holiday season, according to IDC.

Worldwide game console sales are also expected to be higher in 2013 than they were in 2012, bringing an end to a four-year slide, the market researcher predicted in a report released Wednesday. Total sales will, however, just marginally top the 33 million sold last year.

For the first time this year, revenue of games sold through connected console channels such as Xbox LIVE and the PlayStation Store will exceed that of PC-based games distributed through Amazon.com, the Steam platform or Origin, IDC said.

The Chinese government's recent decision to lift the ban on consoles should lead to millions of additional hardware bundle sales for the likes of Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony within three years, IDC said.

Also, the number of online console gamers worldwide is on pace to exceed 165 million by 2017, IDC said. This will lead to substantial growth of digital sales via Wii U, Xbox One, and PS4 online storefronts, it added.

In its forecast IDC also predicted a rise in gaming on smart TVs, microconsoles and set-top boxes. Revenue generated from these platforms is rising quickly but will still represent less than 10 percent of all TV-centric, digital game-related spending in 2017, IDC said.

While gaming on alternative devices keeps on rising, it appears unlikely that Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft will be driven out of the living room by 2017 by competitors like Valve's online game distribution platform, Ouya's Android based microconsole or efforts from cable and telecom companies, IDC said.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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