While Nintendo may be gearing up to introduce the next-generation Wii as early as late 2012, it may have quite a bit of lead time on its competitors. Gaming site Kotaku says sources have told it that neither Microsoft nor Sony has plans to launch new consoles until as late as 2014.
If the companies do indeed follow these rumored plans, at that time the Xbox 360 would have had a life cycle of nine years, and the PlayStation 3 eight. It would be about twice as long as the traditional life cycle for a gaming console, which is typically around five years.
Nintendo's reasons for pushing out a new console are obvious: at launch it was already considered behind the times in terms of its capabilities, and with gamer's appetites growing for more powerful and immersive games, doing so makes good business sense.
In the same vein, Sony and Microsoft's desire to elongate the refresh cycle could be equally as obvious: there is no need for more powerful consoles at this time. Both have added motion-sensing technologies to their respective consoles, giving developers a new platform on which to innovate on.
Kotaku says that in Microsoft's case, questions on whether to be immediately profitable by building a console with more contemporary parts versus innovative ones that would mean the console would be sold as a "loss leader" like previous generations.
Microsoft plans to officially support the Xbox 360 console through at least 2015, a life cycle of about ten years. In previous public statements, Sony has committed to a similar lifespan for the PlayStation 3.