There have been a number of juicy things to emerge from CES, and hear comes another little whisper from behind the closed doors of the show. We don't often cover the mutterings of analysts on this site, but this one seems worthy of discussion.
Having spent a good deal of time at the show "with a number of companies involved in video game development and distribution", Baird Equity Research suggested to potential investors that new console hardware, believed to be unveiled just ahead of E3 this year, will retail for $350-$400 in the US.
"Given the fragile state of the console game market, we expect the E3 trade show in June will take on added significance, most likely providing the industry with the first public opportunity to examine next-generation hardware," wrote Baird's Colin Sebastian in a missive to investors.
"Our checks suggest that next-generation console hardware will be largely built from 'off the shelf' high-end PC components, along with hybrid physical/digital distribution models, enhanced voice controls and motion sensing (Kinect integration with every Xbox), and broad multi-media capabilities.
"Moreover, a PC-based architecture (Intel chips in the case of Xbox) should have a number of advantages over custom-developed silicon: for one, the learning curve for software developers will be shorter than completely new technology. Second, the cost of production and retail price points should be lower than prior console launches.
"Third, it will be easier to build online services around PC chip architecture, including flexible business models (free-to-play, subscriptions) and multi-media (over the top) content offerings. For Microsoft, this design will also allow for more integration with Windows 8 and Windows Mobile devices," he went on.
According to GII, Sebastian earmarked October for Sony's launch, with Microsoft following suit in November, though he noted that his "field checks" had suggested that there "may be early production issues with Sony's PS4."
And what of Nintendo? Well, Sebastian suggested that the Wii U's somewhat quiet launch pointed towards the Big N being a fringe player in the next generation.
"We remain concerned that Nintendo's innovative Wii-U console will lack broad appeal beyond the core Nintendo fan base," he stated.
"Following a somewhat lackluster [sic] launch and holiday selling season, Nintendo will need to bring to market major first-party releases (Zelda) and retain the support of key third-party developers to reduce market share losses. In a negative scenario, Nintendo will be forced to prematurely lower the Wii-U price, and over the course of this cycle, we expect consideration will be given to extending first party franchises to other platforms."