PORTLAND, Ore. ( TheStreet) -- The video game industry as you know it is coming to an end with a bit of help from the Consumer Electronics Show.
Yes, Nintendo already released its next-generation Wii U console. No, Sony (SNE - Get Report) and Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) aren't going to announce successors to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 until the Electronics Entertainment Expo at the earliest. No, Microsoft isn't even going to deliver a keynote at this year's event, and Nintendo isn't even attending.
That said, things are happening on the edges of CES that should give gamers a clue about where the industry is headed within the next few years. Consider it a welcome change, as everything in gaming that isn't playable on a smartphone or downloaded from an online store has been headed nowhere for at least the past year.
Despite the release of the Wii U and the $1 billion generated by Activision's (ATVI) Call of Duty: Black Ops II in its first 15 days of release, NPD Group says video game sales are still in decline. Total industry sales in November -- the last month for which data were available -- fell 11% from November 2011. New game sales also fell 11%, while console sales dropped 13% as the Wii U ate into other consoles' numbers and the lame-duck Wii quickened its slide into history.That was the 12th-straight month of industry declines. While industry insiders note that November's drop was the smallest monthly decline during that span and that the industry's numbers are still double what they were the last time a generation of consoles was released in 2005, things admittedly don't look great. Sales of consoles, physical games and accessories dropped 16% during the past quarter from the same period in 2011, according to NPD Group numbers. Meanwhile, sales of digital content such as downloaded game apps and add-ons jumped 22% over the same span. NPD Group research also finds that smartphones and their apps now account for roughly half of all game downloads. Last year the number of gamers playing on mobile devices just surpassed the number playing on dedicated consoles. Looking into CES and beyond, here are a few pillars of the video game industry that should come crashing down after CES: