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游戏行业竞争白热化,三巨头准备大干一场

财富中文网 2017年01月02日

2017年游戏界的趋势是什么?让我们来看看三巨头的计划,以及他们是如何适应全球业务的变化的。

传统的主机电子游戏领域的确正在遭遇变革。索尼、微软和任天堂(Nintendo)这些巨头依然挺立,不过他们的生态系统范围已经大大扩张了。

研究公司Newzoo表示,今年移动游戏的营业额(369亿美元,占市场996亿美元总营业额的37%)首次超过了主机游戏(290亿美元,占市场总营业额的29%)。主机游戏业务比2015年增长了4.5%,表现不差。但是移动游戏业务同比涨幅却超过了30%。与此同时,PC端游戏业务借助休闲游戏和免费游戏也出现了增长,在2016年的营业额达到319亿美元。

由于PlayStation VR和微软2017年在虚拟现实领域的举措,主机游戏在今年(以及未来短时间内)会迎来飞速发展。不过在谷歌Daydream View头盔的促进之下,移动游戏也会进入繁荣期。而受益于Oculus Rift、HTC Vive以及华硕、戴尔、惠普、宏碁和联想制造的各种微软头盔,PC端游戏同样会表现强劲。

2017年游戏界的趋势是什么?让我们来看看三巨头的计划,以及他们是如何适应全球业务的变化的。

索尼互动娱乐

自2014年发布PlayStation 4以来,索尼就主宰了主机市场。韦德布什证券(Wedbush Securities)的分析师迈克尔·帕切特估计,迄今为止PS4的销售量已经超过4,900万台。这个数字包括约250万台PS4 Pro,这款售价400美元的中间代主机把游戏和娱乐产品的分辨率升级到了4K水平,计算处理能力也有所提高。索尼还重新设计了原来300美元版本的PS4,让它变得更加小巧。

索尼2017年把目光更多地投向了虚拟现实领域。公司售价400美元的PSVR头盔兼容所有的PS4主机,他们还计划在明年圣诞节以前上架50款虚拟现实游戏,其中包含预装在平台上的20款游戏。

索尼互动娱乐全球工作室的主席肖恩·莱登表示,公司已经为虚拟现实体验专门开发了许多预装游戏。其他游戏则会拥有虚拟现实增强版的级别和模式,例如华纳兄弟互动娱乐(Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)的《蝙蝠侠:阿卡姆VR》(Batman: Arkham)和电子艺界(Electronic Arts)的《星球大战前线:侠盗一号X翼战机VR任务》(Star Wars Battlefront Rogue One: X-Wing VR Mission)。

总体来说,索尼把虚拟现实看作与大屏幕主机游戏互补的新平台。帕切特预计索尼会在今年卖出200万台PSVR。

微软

微软目前在主机市场暂列第二。帕切特预计到今年年底,公司Xbox One的全球总销量将达到2,400万台。与索尼类似,微软给越来越多偏好4K分辨率的玩家提供了升级主机的机会。公司最近推出了Xbox One S(起售价300美元),附带超高清蓝光光碟播放器和4K游戏画质的升级。与此同时,原版Xbox One仍旧以最低250美元的价格出售。

微软给玩家带来的大规模主机升级要等到2017年的假日季。在今年6月的E3电子游戏贸易展上,微软公布了中间代主机Xbox One的升级版Project Scorpio。这款主机性能更强,可以让游戏开发商设计4K游戏,营造虚拟现实体验。在微软的E3新闻发布会上,Xbox业务主管菲尔·斯宾塞表示公司目前没有研发第一方的虚拟现实头盔。从技术角度来看,这是实话,不过却并不意味着微软的出局:公司随后宣布宏碁、惠普、联想、华硕和戴尔将会推出为Windows 10设计的虚拟现实头盔,售价300美元。这些产品预计将在2017年第一季度上市,看起来它们很适合Project Scorpio和PC机。

微软已经确认,Project Scorpio将向下兼容Xbox 360和Xbox One的游戏,玩家们得以保留现有的游戏库。Xbox运营主管戴夫·麦卡锡表示,微软致力于“游戏无界限”的哲学,也就是确保产品的更新换代不会把消费者抛下。这种主机的战略与移动游戏领域类似,即产品的更新周期很快,而玩家则习惯于在两年或更短时间内升级自己的手机。老式的主机型号——那些十多年都没有更新的系统——已经被淘汰了。

任天堂

任天堂之前名列业内第三。在公司的GameCube主机乏人问津,全球销量不足2,200万台之后,许多游戏业的观察者认为他们已经日薄西山。不过随后在2006年,任天堂推出了Wii,引领了动作控制游戏的时代,这款主机的最终销量超过了1.01亿台。帕切特预计到今年年底,任天堂主机的全球保有量仅有1,400万(尽管这一数据可能低估了任天堂复刻版红白机NES Classic Edition的惊人人气)。公司近日停止了老版主机的生产,把重点放在了下一代家庭游戏平台Switch上。

Switch是一款混合模式的产品,玩家既可以在家里,也可以在路上享受任天堂的游戏。(它可以在连接大屏幕电视时充电,还可以在上述两种环境下进行多人联机游戏。)这款产品预计将于2017年3月发布,售价250美元。帕切特认为,任天堂可以在2017年卖出500万台Switch,尽管公司到下个月才会公布确切的发售时间、预装游戏和价格。它是否会像竞争对手一样支持4K分辨率的游戏,目前尚不明确。

任天堂总裁雷吉·菲尔斯-埃米表示:“任天堂历来都有自己的行事风格,所以无论微软和索尼决定做什么,那都是他们的事情。我们会自行判断哪些是可行的,哪些是不可行的,显然我们在Wii U上做到了这一点,而且我们也坚持相信,这种副屏幕的创新是值得投入去做的理念。”

任天堂也开始向移动游戏领域挺进。通过与日本移动游戏发行商DeNA的合作,任天堂五款应用中的第一款Miitomo就取得了开门红。第二款(也是第一款手游)马里奥跑酷游戏Super Mario Run在12月15日以9.99美元的价格登陆了iOS平台。该游戏由传奇设计师宫本茂专为移动屏幕开发,他曾是《大金刚》(Donkey Kong)《超级玛丽》(Super Mario Bros.)《塞尔达传说》(the Legend of Zelda)等游戏的共同开发者。

在手游领域,任天堂与Niantic和口袋妖怪公司(The Pokemon Company)的合作也取得了硕果。他们联手在今年7月推出了《口袋妖怪Go》(Pokemon Go)。这款采用增强现实技术的游戏引发了巨大热潮,下载量超过5亿次,在安卓(Android)和iOS平台收入超过6亿美元。Niantic之前曾是谷歌(Google)旗下的业务部门,随后得到了任天堂的投资。任天堂在该公司上继续押注,想必也是不足为奇。(财富中文网)

作者:John Gaudiosi

译者:严匡正

The times are certainly changing for the traditional console video game business. The key players—Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo—remain the same, but the ecosystem has vastly expanded.

According to research firm Newzoo, this year marks the first time mobile game sales will account for more revenue ($36.9 billion, or 37% of the $99.6 billion market) than console gaming ($29 billion, or 29% of the market). The console games business is up 4.5% over 2015—not bad. But the mobile games business is up more than 30% from last year. And thanks to casual and free-to-play games, PC gaming is also on the rise, accounting for $31.9 billion in 2016.

Console gaming will get a boost this year (and for its short-term future) thanks to PlayStation VR and Microsoft’s 2017 virtual reality initiatives. But so too will mobile gaming, thanks to Google Daydream View, and PC gaming, thanks to the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and various Microsoft headsets made by Asus, Dell, HP, Acer, and Lenovo.

What's to come for the gaming industry in 2017? Here's a look at what the Big Three have planned and how they’re adapting to an evolving global business.

Sony Interactive Entertainment

Sony has dominated the console market since launching PlayStation 4 in 2014. The company has sold more than 49 million PS4s to date globally, according to estimates by Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter—and will likely reach 58 million by the end of 2016. That figure includes about 2.5 million PlayStation 4 Pros, the new $400 mid-generation console that upgrades gaming and entertainment to ultra high resolution (4K) and features more processing power under the hood. Sony also redesigned the original $300 PS4 to make it slimmer.

Sony marches into 2017 placing more bets on virtual reality. Its $400 PlayStation VR headset works with all existing PS4 consoles, and the company plans to have 50 virtual reality games on store shelves by Christmas Day, including 20 launch titles that shipped with the platform.

Shawn Layden, chairman of Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios, says the company has developed several launch games specifically for the VR experience. Other games will have levels and modes enhanced by virtual reality, such as Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s Batman: Arkham VR and Electronic Arts’ Star Wars Battlefront Rogue One: X-Wing VR Mission.

In general, Sony is marketing virtual reality as a new platform that is complimentary to big-screen console gaming. Pachter forecasts Sony will sell two million PlayStation VR units this year.

Microsoft

In the console market, Microsoft is currently No. 2. Pachter forecasts that the company will have 24 million Xbox One units in homes worldwide by the end of this year. Like Sony, Microsoft is offering a growing number of gamers who prefer 4K resolution the ability to upgrade their console. The company recently launched its Xbox One S (starting at $300), which comes with an Ultra HD Blu-ray player and 4K gaming upgrade. It still sells the original Xbox One (starting at $250).

Microsoft is waiting until next year—holiday season 2017—to offer gamers a major upgrade. Announced at the E3 video game trade show in June, so-called Project Scorpio is a mid-generation Xbox One upgrade that offers developers a more powerful console to create 4K games and virtual reality experiences for. At Microsoft's E3 press conference, Phil Spencer, head of Xbox business at the company, says Microsoft wasn’t currently developing a first-party virtual reality headset. That's technically true, but don't count the company out: Microsoft later announced that Acer, HP, Lenovo, Asus and Dell will be manufacturing $300 virtual reality headsets designed for Windows 10. They're scheduled to arrive in the first three months of 2017, which seems like a good fit for Project Scorpio and PCs alike.

Microsoft has also confirmed that Project Scorpio will be backwards-compatible with games on both Xbox 360 and Xbox One, allowing gamers to keep their current libraries intact. Dave McCarthy, head of operations for Xbox, says Microsoft is committed to its “playing without boundaries” philosophy, meant to ensure that it doesn’t leave consumers behind during upgrade cycles. The console strategy replicates one found in the mobile games industry, where upgrade cycles are faster and gamers are used to upgrading their smartphones every two years or sooner. The old-fashioned console model—one system that lasts for 10 or more years with no upgrades—is obsolete.

Nintendo

Nintendo has been in third place before. Many gaming industry watchers counted out the company after its GameCube console failed to find an audience with global sales of fewer than 22 million. But then it unveiled the Wii in 2006, ushering in an age of motion control gameplay that resulted in more than 101 million consoles sold. Pachter forecasts Nintendo will have a "global install base" of just 14 million systems by the end of this year (though that figure may underestimate the impact of the surprisingly popular NES Classic Edition). The company recently stopped production of its aging console as it transitions to its next home gaming platform, dubbed Switch.

Switch is a hybrid device that allows gamers to play Nintendo franchises at home and on the go. (It can charge while connected to a big-screen TV and is designed for multiplayer gaming in both environments.) It's expected to launch in March 2017 at a price of $250. Pachter believes Nintendo could sell five million Switch units in 2017, though Nintendo won’t reveal the console’s launch date, launch games, and price until next month. Will it support 4K-resolution gaming as its rivals do? It's unclear.

“Nintendo has a quite appropriate reputation of doing its own thing, so whatever Microsoft and Sony decide to do, that’s for them to manage,” Nintendo president Reggie Fils-Aimé says. “We always do our breakdown of what worked, what didn’t, and certainly we’ve done that with Wii U, and we continue to believe that the innovation of the second screen was a worthwhile concept.”

Nintendo has also expanded into mobile gaming. Through a partnership with Japanese mobile game publisher DeNA, Nintendo had a hit out of the gate with its first of five apps, Miitomo. The second title (and first mobile game), Super Mario Run, launches Dec. 15 for $9.99 on Apple devices. The game was developed by Shigeru Miyamoto—the legendary co-creator of Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., and the Legend of Zelda, among others—specifically for mobile screens.

Nintendo has also seen success in the mobile category through its partnership with Niantic and The Pokemon Company, which launched the smash hit Pokemon Go in July. The augmented reality game has been downloaded more than 500 million times and generated over $600 million across Android and iOS. It wouldn't be a surprise if Nintendo—which holds an investment in the company—continues to bet on the former Google division.


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