When Michael Pachter peeked into his crystal ball, he saw that the future of the industry lies in cross-platform multiplayer. And for console players who pay for multiplayer services ($60 a year on Xbox One, and $50 a year for PlayStation 4), it’ll get much cheaper, too.
The veteran research analyst and managing director of Wedbush Securities made his prediction during his address today at the GamesBeat 2016 conference in Ranchos Palos Verdes, California.
“I think multiplayer will probably drop to two or three bucks a month,” said Pachter. “Instead of 50 or 60 million people playing console multiplayer, you’ll probably have 200 to 300 million people — so lots and lots of money. And that’s going to drive appetite for much deeper game penetration.”
He used the evolution of cellphone plans as an example. In 1991, Pachter paid $150 a month for 30 minutes of talk time. These days, he pays $118 for four phones with unlimited talk, text, and 40GB of data. That works because the phone companies have 2 billion paying customers now. Pachter thinks we’ll see similar growth with multiplayer games.
As phones become cheaper and more powerful — with better graphics and processors — that’ll open up console-like multiplayer games to a much larger audience. He believes that eventually, someone will solve the tricky problem of cross-platform multiplayer (like online battles between PC and console owners), too.
“My vision of the future is [developers are] gonna be able to reach anybody that has a CPU and GPU — whether it’s a laptop, tablet, PC, or phone,” said Pachter. “As long as they have a monitor, and they’re willing to spend 20, 30, 40 bucks on an after-market controller, you’re gonna be able to reach them with games.”
Of course, this might not happen. Pachter prefaced his panel by saying how he’s “always wrong.” In the 15 years he’s been studying the industry, he can only count one time he correctly estimated the sales of a game: Activision’s Spider-Man in 2002 with 1.75 million copies. He was spot on. But he also thought the seminal open-world game Grand Theft Auto III would only sell 325,000 copies.
He was off by about 30 million.