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New report predicts massive online subscriber growth for consoles

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Online console gaming subscriptions could jump from 3.4 million in 2004 to over 30 million in 2009, according to a recent report entitled “Console and Handheld Online Gaming: Overshadowing the PC.”

The report expects Microsoft to lead the online charge. With the release of their Xbox 360 and additions to its subscription service, online membership is predicted to grow by 50 percent a year until 2009.

Whether Sony decides to keep its online gaming free or to begin charging for subscriptions with the release of the PlayStation 3 will have a big impact on subscription growth and revenue. According to the study, however, Sony believes paid subscriptions are too large a barrier to online gaming and they would rather reinforce customer loyalty through free play.

Nintendo has so far kept clear of console online games. But the report believes they are taking an aggressive stance with their plans for bringing the DS online by setting up a network of Wi-Fi hotspots in Japan, North America and Europe. So far, it is the most successful handheld online gaming network, with over 200,000 users logging on in its first three weeks.

Though the report does not make any forecasts about PC gaming, it does imply that consoles will overtake PCs as the dominant online gaming medium. The report in its entirety is available [a] http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/c30393 [aa]HERE[/a].

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