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PlayStation 2 owners are more likely to be brand-loyal when considering a next generation console purchase than Xbox and GameCube owners, new research has found.

In a recent US survey, ABI Research canvassed consumer interest in buying a next-generation console and found that the next-gen console war between Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo will largely depend on current gamers despite manufacturers’ efforts to reach new gamers.

A total of 18 percent said they were likely to buy one in the coming year, compared with 28 percent of active gamers, ABI reported. But interest rose significantly when asking consumers who currently play on a console, with 42 percent of PS2 owners, 55 percent of Xbox owners and 54 percent of GameCube owners indicating they were likely to buy a new console.

ABI Research said that although the overall percentage of PS2 owners showing interest in a next-gen console today was the lowest of the three, their intensity of loyalty to Sony products was higher when considering a next generation purchase.

The research found 60 percent of those who own a PS2 and are considering a new console are likely to buy a PS3. By comparison, 45 percent of Xbox owners are looking to buy an Xbox 360 and 46 percent of GameCube owners are looking to buy a Wii.

“We believe that Sony’s much larger installed base combined with higher loyalty among current generation owners could translate into significant gains for them if they can, in fact, convert these prospective owners” said research director Michael Wolf. “Microsoft and Nintendo, while still seeing strong overall loyalty, do not enjoy the same intensity.”

“Not surprisingly, the interest in the new generation of consoles grows significantly among the already converted. While we think that the market of console owners will likely expand beyond its current bases, we believe that the market for the next one to two years will be driven by current console owners upgrading to the new generation,” he added.

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