NEW YORK — When Sony and Microsoft last came out with new video game consoles — seven and eight years ago, respectively — the companies touted the machines' high-definition graphics, powerful processors and ability to play DVDs, and in Sony's case, Blu-ray discs.
But a lot has changed since then. People are playing games on a broader array of devices than ever before and have more options to stream movies, TV shows and music.
That's the world Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One enter. The PlayStation 4 went on sale Friday and the Xbox One will be released next week.
While game console sales have been falling in the U.S., the worldwide video game market is growing, helped by mobile and online games and downloadable console games. Those sales are more than making up for a declining demand for game discs. Gartner expects the total video game market to hit $93.3 billion this year, up from $78.9 billion in 2012.
Both new gaming systems are expected to be in brisk demand around the holidays. Sony expects to sell 5 million units of the PlayStation 4 by the end of its fiscal year in March. Microsoft declined to offer a sales outlook for the Xbox One through the holidays, but Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter expects 3 million Xbox Ones to be sold through December and 4.5 million through March.
Why does the PlayStation get a slight edge? Price could be one reason. The Xbox One, which includes an updated Kinect motion sensor, will cost $500, which is $100 more than the PlayStation 4. Neither the Xbox One nor the PlayStation 4 is backward compatible, meaning the machines don't play games that were made for their predecessors.