Monday, February 04, 2008

Which is more? 4.3 or 4.9

Strange title? Not really. I'm referring to the sales of the Xbox 360 and the Playstation3 over the Christmas Season. I've already stated that I don't think Microsoft actually sold 4.3 million Xbox 360's. I base this on what has generally been outright fabrication about Vista sales, and Microsoft's repeated historical mis-representations of actual sales numbers.

By the same token, I never really trust Sony's numbers either. Sony pretty much wrote the book during the time of the original Playstation on how to hide negative data on sales. Over the past years I've gone into depth on their tax filings and regulatory reports, data which has gone up on Gamenikki before.

Now, ignoring the Wii for a second, I stated at the start of the year that the Playstation 3 had taken 2007. So upon hearing that the Playstation 3 had managed to sell 4.9 million units during the Christmas season, from Dailytech of all news sites, was of interest. What's even more interesting is that a quick overview of retail sales and it I'm not seeing any data that would suggest the number is incorrect. It does look like Sony is reporting accurately... the Playstation 3 console looks to have sold just under 5 million units.

Okay, so I was wrong. Sony has already started outselling Microsoft in the console market. It is not an event that is going to happen sometime in the future. So, lets examine why Sony is going to be the winner, and we'll do that by starting with Nintendo.

Where does Nintendo fit into the overall scheme of console sales? Well, the answer nobody is going to like is this: Nintendo doesn't. Most console sales are started out by the hardcore gamers and gadget lovers buying up the first shipments. Most expect the games to be junk, they just want to be first. The Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 are exact models of this purchasing behavior.

By comparison Nintendo's launch and retail success has not been delivered by hardcore gamers. Instead Nintendo has enjoyed success by one of the widest ranges of purchasing consumers in the history of video games. Nintendo is constantly running success stories of where the Wii and DS systems are being picked up by elderly consumers. The DS in it's pink format has sold in the millions to females which are not typically known for buying video games.

In the traditional model after a year or so the mainstream retail market starts buying each console as units become available, prices are reduced, and a larger library of games is available. The Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 are entering this stage of their retail life. Developers have finally started to get handle on each console, good games are being released on a regular basis, and the price is acceptable.

Nintendo breaks the traditional model. The mainstream market that would only now start to the buy the products has already buying in conjunction with the traditional gamer market. That is one of the factors behind Nintendo's inability to keep Wii's in stock. The demand that would only come in a year or so after the console's launch was in effect from just about day 1.

Nintendo then presents a major problem to third party developers. Many of the successful games so far have been one-shot games. Stuff like Dancing with the Stars comes to mind. Nintendo holds the current lead for overall number of consoles sold, and the demand is not likely to decrease for several months, if not another year, to come.

Ergo, many developers are having to rapidly retool their production lines and development programs to get stable franchises onto the Wii platform. Almost all major developers now have Wii games planned, and have reported that they've reallocated various resources to fuel Wii production.

The result is that Nintendo really doesn't factor into considerations of the Playstation 3 or Xbox 360. The Wii has successfully become the dominant product, and will remain so as the restructured development process starts pouring on the software selection.

Okay, back to the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 then. Why is Sony going to win the overall sales record? I went into some of the reasons before. In crude terms, Microsoft basically has a single PSG1, and it's already fired the allotted shot, Halo. Sony has the equivalent of a M60.

Let me put it this way. When was the last time RareWare was a factor for Microsoft?
Well, It wasn't a factor with the big gun from the Nintendo 64, Conker, on his Xbox Remake. Rare wasn't a factor at the launch of the 360. Perfect Dark Zero had mediocre sales. Rare wasn't a factor after launch, as Kameo: Elements of Power didn't too well either. In fact if you take a look at Gamefaqs you'll note something relatively disturbing.

2006
Xbox 360 Kameo: Elements of Power 02/02/06
Xbox 360 Viva Pinata 11/09/06
Wii Donkey Kong Country 12/08/06

2007
DS Diddy Kong Racing DS 02/05/07
Xbox 360 Jetpac Refuelled 03/28/07
Wii Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest 05/16/07
Wii Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble 12/24/07

I've bolded the... appropriate... sections here. While I'm not sure whether or not Nintendo has published individual Virtual Console sales numbers, 3 of RareWare's past 7 releases were modified ROM's from their Super Nintendo days. In fact, during the entire time that RareWare has been a part of Microsoft, they've only released 6 games total for their owners platform. During that time RareWare has launched 8 titles for handheld systems, 7 of those titles going to Nintendo platforms. That's a far cry from the 1999 and 2000 sales where RareWare released over 4 games each year. 2001 could have been a 5 game year as well if Dinosaur Planet hadn't been delayed to it's 2002 launch as Star Fox Adventures.

The point I'm getting is that RareWare has basically done the same thing to Microsoft that Nintendo got rid of them for. I've always stated RareWare was a bad purchase, and that has been born out by the sales records.

That's pretty much been true of all Microsoft's developers. Most of them cannot deliver on time, if at all.

Sony, by comparison, has a large stable of first and second party developers. These first party projects mean exclusive sales. Sony also has free online play, where-as the Xbox 360 has paid online play. That might not sound like such a big deal if you are a hardcore gamer, but it doesn't take long for the average consumer to figure out that they will pay more to play a Xbox 360 online, than it will to play a Playstation 3 online. That will be factor in the mainstream purchasing decisions.

Sony also has an advantage in their media playback, which as new models of LCD panels are introduced, the prices of getting a decent wide-screen TV have fallen. I myself use an almost stock Wide-Screen monitor. That will be a factor as consumers look to the future over the next year. The Playstation 3 simply offers a better media playback system, which what is going to be the dominant media format, Blu-Ray.

So... was I wrong about Sony had sell the Playstation 3 as more than just a Blu-Ray player. I don't know. I'm still convinced that if Sony had taken the chance to go after Vista with the launch of the Playstation 3, there wouldn't even be a discussion about Vista anymore. I don't think it would factor in for any purchasing decision. I'm still convinced that Sony has the opportunity to deliver a knock-out blow to the Xbox 360 that Microsoft will not be able to recover from.

Keep in mind that Microsoft is under federal regulation for at least two more years. Microsoft cannot add a word-processor, browser, email client, or other such items to the Xbox 360, in order to make it equal to a standard personal computer.

Sony... can.

Yes, the Playstation 3 has already begun to surpass the Xbox 360 in current retail sales, but there still are several million Xbox 360's already on the market. Those systems are not going to go away. They are not going to disappear. I think that the Playstation 3 sold because it started offering real games like Ratchet and Clank or Uncharted. I think the Playstation 3 sold because Sony got smart about the downloads and started putting hard to find titles like Wild Arms into the store. I think the Playstation 3 sold because it is a better product than the Xbox 360.

And I think it could sell better if Sony would just get over what-ever fear they have and make the Playstation 3 a Linux computer.


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My Apologies if this seems disjointed to read. I got stopped several times during the course of writing this, and I think that is obvious in some of the paragraph junctures. I also tried to keep from repeating that which I've already said in other links, which also served to put artificial breaks where I had to re-write the context to build a point.
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