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Worldwide console and handheld online gaming subscribers estimated to increase to 30M by 2009

A study conducted by Research and Markets reveals that worldwide video game consoles and handheld online gaming subscribers are expected to continue to climb from just 3.4 million in 2004 to more than 30 million by 2009.

One of the factors that is going to affect this growth (and related revenues in the industry) is whether Sony will continue to provide free online console subscriptions or change it to a paid subscription service when it unveils the PlayStation 3 this year. So far, Microsoft is the only console manufacturer to offer a paid subscription service. According to Research and Markets, they anticipate the launch of the Xbox 360 and additions to its subscription service to boost Microsoft to just below 50% yearly subscriber growth from 2004 to 2009.

Other findings of the report are the following.

– Sony is under the impression that a paid subscription service is a huge barrier to console online gaming.
– Sony may have introduced several network gaming titles for its PSP handheld console in 2005 but it has not really been as active as Nintendo in establishing Wi-Fi networks or pushing its online service.
– Nintendo has pretty much ignored online console gaming so far but it has been marketing aggressively in the handheld console gaming sector, establishing hotspot networks in Japan, North America and Europe to host its free DS online service.

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