North American players started forgetting about the PlayStation 2 somewhere around the end of 2007. The PS3 had been out for a year by that point and Sony—and independent third-party game publishers—were focusing all of their marketing efforts on the new platform.
But in developing and emerging markets, the PS2 was all the rage. In fact, that rage only recently died down: with production costs on the console having become negligible, Sony kept selling the system through January of this year, when it finally halted production.
Now another console cycle is about to begin. But the game is shaping up to be different this time around. The lag between a system launch in the U.S. and developing markets is expected to be significantly shorter this generation.
That's due, in part, to changes in how games are being sold. The next-generation machines deeply integrate digital distribution into their DNA, meaning if owners of those systems want a game, they don't have to purchase a physical copy—and that removes one of the key pain points that has kept gamers around the world from playing together.
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"If you live in a disc-based world, the only way to get superior games is to own a disc playing machine, like a PS3 or Xbox 360," said John Taylor, managing director of Arcadia Investment Management. "If you live in a world where they're based in the cloud, it's a lot easier to get them to other markets."