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Analyst Reveals Next-Gen Predictions

Rumors are coming at a faster clip as we approach the inevitable release of next-gen consoles, and an analyst has added his post-CES predictions to the heap. They include potential price points, release windows, and a surprisingly grim outlook for Nintendo.

Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Baird Equity Research, says he's based these predictions on conversations with developers and distributors.

Sebastian says he expects that Sony and Microsoft will unveil their new hardware shortly before E3, which he predicts will be the biggest show since 2000. The next generation of console hardware will be based on high-end off-the-shelf PC components, which could ease the transition, since developers are likely to be familiar with the basic hardware architecture. These consoles could be priced between $350 and $400, which puts them in line with the 360's initial $399 price point, and the PS3, which had launch configurations ranging from $399 to $599. As Sebastian sees it, we'll be seeing both consoles in stores before the end of the year, possibly in October or November.

The sky isn't necessarily falling for brick-and-mortar retailers, though Sebastian says the wider transition to digital is inevitable. He does say that we'll be seeing a similar sales ratio of digital downloads to physical sales for at least the first few years of next-gen.

He doesn't have much in the way of good news on the Nintendo front. Citing what he calls a lackluster launch, Sebastian conjures up a grim future for the Wii U. He predicts that Nintendo could be forced to cut the console's cost before the company had planned, and that we'll need to see major first-party games such as Zelda on the system soon to prevent it from entering a free fall. In the worst-case scenario, he sees Nintendo farming out its first-party franchises to previously competing platforms.

What do you think? Is this guy on to something, or is he just tossing darts around?

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