Next-gen consoles are expected to continue the current trend of emphasizing content well beyond gaming.
Meanwhile, new platforms such as Microsoft's SmartGlass and services like Sony's PlayStation Mobile will help accelerate the integration of traditional gaming platforms with future mobile devices.
"The expanded role of non-gaming content delivery, such as over the top video, over game consoles is also strongest in North America, Western Europe, and Japan. Most premium game developers for consoles are situated within these regions; adding cultural and language affinity required for games to create pull for the consoles," explained senior ABI Research analyst Michael Inouye.
"The next generation of consoles could bring expanded opportunities to engage with new developers with downloadable content and cloud gaming. This, together with changes in taxation, regulation, and consumer behavior could increase the game consoles potential on a more global scale - a prime example might be a dedicated Android game set-top box such as upcoming Ouya."v
According to Inouye, game console penetration (7th generation) is currently highest in North America at just over 50% of TV households (end of 2011), followed by Western Europe with nearly 30% - the next closest is Asia Pacific at just over 3%, with Japan a significant contributor.
With the next generation of consoles around the corner (Nintendo Wii U will be first to market in late 2012) the replacement cycle will start anew, with the above-mentioned three primary regions expected to consume the majority of units.
"Some regions such as Latin America continue to see growth opportunity, but high prices, due to taxes and tariffs, still put a damper on expectations. Other regions like Middle East and Africa have limited fixed broadband penetration which reduces the value proposition from features like multiplayer gaming, downloadable content, and services like over the top video.
"In addition, other large markets like China have regulatory issues that prevent Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony from conducting normal operations in the country," Inouye added.