Sony's been touting a 10-year plan for its PlayStation 3 ever since launch, aiming at the same kind of lifespan its PlayStation 2 enjoyed.
In addition, analysts widely agree that new motion control solutions like Sony's Move and Microsoft's Kinect will act as a mid-cycle refresh, extending the shelf lives of the current generation's consoles further than the industry has seen in previous years.
But a new console generation must come eventually, and Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida is certain that PS3 won't be the first to turn over. Speaking to UK trade site Develop, Yoshida pointed to primary rival Microsoft first
, suggesting that the first to market will be the first to lose steam.
"Looking from the outside, it was Microsoft that released the first of this generation of consoles. Naturally, in my opinion, Microsoft will make the first move," he said.
Nintendo's strategy was almost diametrically opposed to Sony's -- it launched a simple hardware solution targeted at a mass audience, and its Wii has never much minded not being on the cutting edge.
In fact, it has foregone features like robust online infrastructures or high-resolution video capability and focused primarily on strong software. According to Yoshida, this might mean Nintendo will be forced to make a hardware refresh first.
"Nintendo’s approach was not to upgrade much on its basic hardware – Wii doesn’t even support HD resolution – so they might be the first to move," he suggests.
"Probably the watch should be on these companies, in my opinion," the exec continues. "Because PS3 was later than Xbox, and is more powerful, so it has a longer lifespan."
Analysts and industry companies often have differing opinions on the ultimate length of the current hardware cycle. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot has stressed
that the company is already preparing for "new home and handheld consoles" to be ready "in the next few years", while others, such as Electronic Arts chief creative officer Rich Hilleman
, say that the trend toward digital distribution means current consoles will stay relevant longer.