A portion of a Games Industry interview with Brian Farrell, CEO of THQ…
GI: Now that all three next-gen consoles are out, how soon do you think it will be before we see a market leader - if there’s a clear leader at all?
BF: The way we’re looking at the market over the next five years is that it’s going to be more segmented. Not fragmented, segmented. What I mean by that is 360 and PS3 are very powerful machines, with very robust online components, and they’re more targeted at the core gamer.
We’re seeing very robust PS2 and Wii markets that are sitting right next to 360 and PS3. What does that tell us? That there are a lot of casual gamers for whom $129 for a PS2 is a great value proposition. The same with Wii, $249, very new, very casual. Handhelds - DS probably goes from the ages of 6 to 16, and the PSP’s provided a new market of 16 or above.
I don’t mean to over-simplify this, but in the past a lot of publishers - including us - would say, ‘Okay, let’s make a game and get it across every system.’ That’s not our strategy going forward; there are going to be different gamers for the different systems. So our strategy is different types of content, segmented on who the users of the systems are.
GI: So if there are going to be two markets - the mass market, with the Wii and PS2, and the more traditional market with PS3 and 360, which is going to be bigger?
BF: It’s unclear at this point. The mass market will always be, when you get to the right price point, the biggest. The Wii has a great opportunity, but does that mean it’s going to be the largest platform in this generation? It’s hard to say initially.
It’s clear that you’ve got three well capitalised competitors who are not going to go quietly into the night, which for a games publisher is nirvana. Microsoft has the early lead with the core gamer; Sony’s ramping up quickly, particularly in Europe, where trying to erode Sony’s market leadership is going to be very difficult.
As we look out and reforecast, it looks like a three-way split. I don’t mean to be politically correct here, but that’s not a bad way to be thinking about it. Something could change tomorrow, but it’s going to be a really interesting race. I can’t remember when three platforms co-existed like this.
GI: You don’t see a situation where perhaps, because that mass market is so big, Nintendo ends up getting the biggest share and Sony and Microsoft are left fighting it out for the core gamers?