THQ: Hardware Cycles Irrelevant in Current Market

The game industry's traditional "hardware cycle"—the rate at which existing consoles and handheld platforms are replaced with new iterations—no longer applies in the current market, THQ president and CEO Brian Ferrell believes.

"We used to always think of this industry as "the cycle,'" Ferrell said, as reported by MTV Multiplayer. "I think the reality now is there are several sub-cycles."

The executive went on to describe the industry as having at least three separate sub-cycles, consisting of the handheld market, the continued competition between Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3, and the Nintendo Wii. Ferrell further noted that yet another sub-cycle may be emerging in the online games market.

"It's hard now to talk about 'the cycle'—I think we have to talk about all of the cycles," Ferrell added. "The way we think about it at THQ is we plan our business around each of those platforms, not around 'the cycle.'"

The most recent generation of home consoles and handheld platforms suggest a rapidly shifting definition of a system's life cycle, with current estimates of a console's shelf-life ranging from five to eight years. Sony Computer Entertainment president Kazuo Hirai recently reiterated that Sony expects the PlayStation 3 to push ten years in active development.

Meanwhile, Gears of War (PC, Xbox) developer Epic Games roughly targeted the next hardware generation as 2012 from 2018, or six to seven years after the current generation's debut.

While software production slowed significantly for Nintendo's GameCube and Microsoft's Xbox following the releases of their respective follow-up platforms, Sony's PlayStation 2—originally released in late 2000—has seen continued support since the PS3's release, with high profile releases such as Atlus' Persona 4 still in the works.