Monday, December 31, 2007

Calling it: the Playstation 3 and Wii take 2007

This... isn't... the article I wanted to run. I had a couple other items sitting on the burner that I hadn't gotten around to finishing up. Primary is an update on the systems for sale. However, while browsing news postings I saw that a normally creditable game site is running an article with the title "Calling It: The Xbox 360 Won 2007." Only... it didn't. Not by anybody's imagination, and certainly not Kotaku's.

The first massive problem facing the Xbox 360 is of course the Nintendo Wii. The Nintendo Wii has already completely surpassed the Xbox 360 for total number of systems sold, period. Not just the number of systems sold in a year, the number of systems sold since launch. Over a calendar year later Nintendo can't keep stock in stores. Every single shipment of a Nintendo Wii is selling out, with an average selling time measure in minutes.

The problem gets even worse when you account for the Playstation 3. Okay, unlike the Nintendo Wii, the PlayStation 3 still lags behind the Xbox 360 in terms of overall sales. However, there are several factors that indicate that the PS3 is on track to surpass the Xbox 360, and possibly within the next 3 months. The first factor is of course, Blu-Ray. Now, I still think Sony is making a mistake by pushing the PS3 as a Blu-Ray player. I still think they would have a lot more success just sucking it up, telling Nvidia to add RSX to Nvidia-GLX, and promoting the PS3 as a premium Linux Personal Computer.

However, care to guess what the average selling difference between the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD formats are? Well, if you are thinking 2 to 1, you'd be a little off. If you are thinking 3 to 1, you might be getting closer. If you are thinking 5 to 1, you'd be just about right. Yes, the Blu-Ray format sells on average, 5-1 more copies on dual format discs.

Comparing Exclusive format movies a bit different, since people who want one format will be stuck with that format. However, numbers that can be compared are numbers of nomral DVD's to the their High Resolution Counterparts. HD-DVD loses there too, and by a far greater margin than Blu-Ray.

Where this gets interesting is which devices actually make up the majority of players for each format. The PS3 makes up over 74% of the available Blu-Ray players on the market as of December 5th 2007. The Xbox 360? Nowhere near as close. It is over 33% though, as of December 16th 2007.

So... lets put that in perspective as the consoles go. Because Blu-Ray is built into the PS3, and it is a competent solution, 100% of all PS3's are counted towards Blu-Ray players. Because HD-DVD is an add-on that misses many features on the majority of sold Xbox 360's... It's not even a popular accessory for the Xbox 360 itself.

So, the Xbox 360 lost on the media front. How did it do on the games front?

Well, lets be honest. Resistance: Fall Of Man was the Halo of PS3. It wasn't that great a game, and sorry Naughty Dog, you can't do first person shooters. However, compared to the rest of what the platform offered, Resistance looked pretty good. The fact is, Sony blew their first months in markets. There isn't any way around that. They launched with an outrageous price, and possibly the worst launch line-up since the Gamecube.

Sony also has made some pretty nasty stumbles along the way to now. The former 60gb PS3 is the most sought after version... since all current models use a Software Emulator for PS2 games.

However, Sony finally got their pricing under control, and lets be honest, a 299 price tag in some markets made for an explosive selling system. With 399 and 499 prices in most other markets, the PS3 is not as outlandish as it appears.

In fact, that's the key reason why the Xbox 360 lost against the PS3 in 2007. Everybody knew Japan was a write-off from the start for the Xbox 360. It was a given that the PS3 and Wii would be the most popular consoles there, period.

However, outside of Japan, in the UK and the US, the two other largest markets, the PS3 has steadily closed the gap between itself and the Xbox 360. As I said before, the PS3 is within 3 potential months of surpassing total Xbox 360 sales figures... and the Xbox 360 had a years head start.

Suddenly, 2007 doesn't look that good for the Xbox 360. It doesn't look good at all. Microsoft hasn't been able to maintain a lead against their competitor. Sure, they still have one right now, but the sales ratios between the PS3 and Xbox 360? Are firmly in the PS3's favor.

The Xbox 360 is also made worse by it's releases going into the end of 2007. Aside from Halo, which common, was still an average game, I couldn't tell you what other exclusives the Xbox 360 went out on... and I recorded most of Microsoft's press conference in Santa Monica.

However, the PS3 went into the Christmas Season with Naughty Dog's return to the adventure genre, Uncharted. Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction, which gave us everything we asked for at the end of the last Ratchet and Clank... in half the game.

Thing is, the PS3 is finally getting started on it's game roll, and something else to consider is the high number of console exclusives Sony is providing. Over 15 studios are working on PS3 exclusive games. Sony is rolling more titles out for it's console... than even Nintendo.

As I look back over 2007, I don't really see any successes for the Xbox 360... outside of Halo. Now, I've made it clear before, Halo is a manufactured Hyped Product. The real worry is that once again Microsoft is wading into battle with only one significant star, and a star that even pro-Halo fans are starting to admit, is not that bright. Bungie leaving Microsoft was a huge shake-up among the Halo faithful, who suddenly had to examine the possibility that maybe Bungie wasn't as good as they thought.

However, I'm easily able to point to several retail successes for both the PS3 and the Wii... and sorry Kotaku... that makes them the winners.
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