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Console War Questions |

Revolution ControllersSomeone recently asked me a couple questions about the next-gen console war, and I thought I’d post my answers here (with small clarifications) in case anyone is interested.

1. How smart was Microsoft’s strategy in getting the system out before PS3?

Sony says that Microsoft’s headstart is no big deal. But although I think it may not give Microsoft quite the huge advantage they were thinking, it’s still a good thing in the short term. The Xbox 360 will be out in America for probably a whole year before the PS3 appears, giving Microsoft that much more of an installed base. In theory. However, Microsoft’s supply problems are crippling that effort. For example, fewer Xbox 360’s were sold in November and December than Microsoft had wanted and predicted. The Xbox 360 has sold more poorly in Japan than the original Xbox did. Microsoft had to lower its estimates for the first 3 months of total sales. However, they are still getting consoles out there while Sony is still developing theirs. If Sony’s console were to be a huge improvement over the Xbox 360 because of that delay, that might change things. But it looks like the graphics prowess of the two machines will be about the same. But in the long term, I don’t know how wise Microsoft’s strategy is. They forced the next generation of consoles to come early. The Xbox and PS2 still have life in them, and traditionally console makers have left more time between console releases. We are still getting games that are pushing the consoles to limits we didn’t know existed. Take a look at Burnout: Revenge or the upcoming game Black. Those look better than any previous games in their genres. Microsoft is forcing the Xbox 360 on people in order to win the next generation, and are abandoning the Xbox platform in the process. I think people won’t appreciate that.

2. The sales of Xbox 360 were lower than Microsoft expected, however, they say it was not because of demand? Do you agree with this?

Yes. Demand is high. Microsoft just couldn’t produce the units they wanted to. On the other hand, if there was a over abundance of supply, it would have been interesting to see how many 360’s sold. Maybe the demand was very close to the supply, but we don’t know.

3. What did you think about the Xbox price point? How will it compared to the PS3?

I don’t think it’s that bad. The PS2 came to America at $300, but it didn’t have all that the Xbox 360 has. And when the PS2 originally launched in Japan, it sold for the equivalent of over $400US if I remember correctly. But the price of technologies does come down, so for $400US, I would have liked to see a larger hard drive. System information and stuff like that take up several gigabytes. When you only have 20GB to start with, that hurts. But that’s just a small quibble. The price of the PS3 hasn’t been announced yet, so I can’t comment on that.

4. What kind of an effect will the PS3 have on the console community? Do you believe it will be more successful?

More successful than the 360? Yes I think so, because of Japan. But I don’t think they’ll have the same margin of dominance as the PS2 enjoyed worldwide. The PS3 will be released sometime this year and it’ll be a smash hit in Japan. I don’t need to be a soothsayer to predict that. It’s obvious. In North America it’s my opinion that it’ll do about as well as the 360.

5. How do you think Nintendo’s Revolution system will figure in?

Right now there’s lots of talk about the Revolution. Some are suggesting that it’ll pull a fast one on everyone and do a lot better than people expected, taking away marketshare from Sony and Microsoft. Personally, I don’t think that’ll happen. Gamers are maturing. Sure, kids play games like they always used to, but adults are playing video games in increasing numbers (kids grow up!), and Nintendo has historically pretty much ignored that market except for a very few games like Resident Evil. So kids that bought Nintendo N64 grow up and buy a PlayStation 2 instead of a GameCube. Sony and Microsoft are addressing that market, Nintendo isn’t. The fancy new controller won’t change that. A friend of mine has a GameCube (because he couldn’t find a PS2) and N64, and he plans not to buy a Revolution for just this reason. Too many kiddy games, not enough fun ones. Plus, the fact that the Revolution doesn’t support HD is a major strike against it in my mind (and my friend’s).

See the new poll on the Revolution versus GameCube.

6. Do you think this new generation of consoles will sell better than the record breaking previous generation? Are console developers expanding to new demographics to try and achieve this (ie. +30)?

I’ve heard predictions that 200 million PS3’s will be sold. (I know, I know – from an analyst. But it’s still a number we can discuss.) That’s twice the number of PS2’s that have sold up to now. But remember – Sony will continue selling the PS2 for probably another 5 years. That’s what it did with the PSone. So the PS2 will, once its life is over, probably have sold much more than 100 million. So to say that the PS3 will sell 200 million over its lifetime isn’t that much of a stretch. That said, I’m no fortune teller, and I don’t know how many new gamers Sony and Microsoft might entice with their products. Personally, I’m 36, and I’m already playing video games. I can’t imagine that they can grab other people like me who aren’t already playing games. The most they can do is entice them from playing computer games to playing console games. But to take a non-gamer and sell them a console? At the age of 30+? I find that hard to believe.

  • Bravo Henning. Excellent predictions for the next-gen. Although I do think you are underestimating the Revolution. Nintendo does admittedly make more toned down games, which some people call kiddy. But the Gamecube did not have the greatest 3rd party support, where as the Revolution seems to be sparking the creative minds of many developers.

  • Black Guy

    Henning – I’m shocked! iAlways labeled u as a Sony fanboy but… Just joking, those are really great responses. They were well thought out and professional.

    iDon’t think u underestimated Revo at all. iAgree w/ u that iDon’t c Revo moving in on PS3 or X360. It will probably find its own niche but iJust don’t c it appealing to too many mature gamers. For the last 2 generations, Nintendo has been loosing it and now they r taking a huge gamble w/ the Revo; if it doesn’t pan out, Nintendo will might have some problems.

    As for the PS3 being the most successful again, chances r it will. MS is trying to cater to the Japanese preferences of RPGs and whatever else but it still may not b enough. iCertaintly hope they do better cuz competition is better 4 everyone in the long run and many X360 owners would like to enjoy some of the Japanese developed titles for the beautiful X360. Even if the X360 finishes third in Japan, it has sufficient traction elsewhere to still do great and compete @ stronger position than Xbox 1.

  • Jordan

    Nice predictions!

    Here are mine

    1. The install base is a huge issue. Games have a limited shelf life (we all want whats new), so third-party publishers will want to wait until there are enough systems out there. I suspect many 360 games are near-ready but delayed to sell more on immediate release.

    2. Of course PS3 will sell more than PS2!!! Not because of technology, but because of globalization. 1 Billion people in China and India are emerging from poverty and entering the middle-class… they will require entertainment.

    3. I think 360 is doing very poorly. I am more excited about xbox titles! (I can’t believe I won’t be able to play Black).

    4. $400 PS3 is fine, with inflation its actually modest. But I expect Sony to add more TIVO type of functionality (120GB hard drive, cable-card, etc) making the average system $600+… not including PSP 1.5 for portable viewing.

    I wonder how long until Sony releases a PS3 with a BD-Recorder and the Toshiba Super-Capanion Cell chip for massive parallel HD recording. I know the PSX was unsuccuessful, (ahead of its time) but if they can include or liscense tivo and BD-R, it is a very attractive package.

    I like my Scientific Atlanta (Rogers) PVR, but I would ditch it in a second for the chance to archive my favorites on BD.

  • Chemical

    I do not necesseraly agree that Nintendo is going for a more kid friendly audience. If anything they are aiming toward’s a casual game audience. Though I doubt his numbers, Nolan Bushnell recently stated that at the height of the arcade boom 44 million people played video games. Today the number is closer to 20 million. I think its that “lost” demographic that Nintendo is trying to reach. People turned off by the complexity and the learning curve of todays games. Gamers who dont want to play shooters, or spend dozens of hours playing RPG’s and MMOs. I am 30 have been playing games since that Atari days. Yet when Bushnell said that the first time he saw the playstation controller he was scared to death a part of me can relate. Maybe in the last 10-15 years or so games have been getting to bloated for their own good. Dont get me wrong, personally Halo 2 is my favorite game of all time, but I think I do understand what Nintendo is trying to do, and wish them the best of luck. The more successful they are the better the whole industry will be. If anything I hope more people can get into the gaming, its great fun, and by trying to reach a larger demographic games might get a good influx of much needed creativity.

  • observer

    You are surprisingly slightly pro-360 for a guy who runs a PS3 blog. You’re trying to be calm and neutral which is good but I still would expect more pro-PS3 excitement from someone running a PS3 blog.

    I disagree with two points:

    – 360 and PS3 graphics will be the same? Of course, we don’t know until it comes out, but I would expect that the PS3 would have a horsepower edge given that it’s coming out later.
    – PS3 will only do as well as 360 in North America? I disagree for the same reason that the PS2 did a lot better than Xbox, even in North America: Content. Sony has a better roster of developers and much better exclusive content. The original Xbox got very few titles that weren’t on PS2 or PC and based on announced titles, the 360 looks to be the same. The most anticipated titles of 2006 seem to have many PS3 exclusives but few 360 exclusives. One good example list:

  • I think that the power of the RSX and the 360’s graphics chips will be about the same. However, I believe that the Cell processor’s physics capabilities will give the PS3 the edge in realism.

  • Yeah, I would have to agree, the PS3 should have the edge in power. I don’t think it will be a great deal more, but I would find it hard to believe if the PS3 is less powerful or equal to the 360.

  • Well most game publishers want to make their games run on all platforms reasonably well. Therefore, aside from exclusive titles, I think the quality of next gen visuals will only be as great as the weakest link. No one wants their game on Revolution to look like crud compared to the Xbox360 version. Or the 360 version to look bad compared to the PS3 one. No publisher wants to upset the user base.Nintendo’s, Sony’s, or Microsoft’s. As always you run a great blog. I linked to you on my blog.
    Keep up the great work.I will mention you on my site whenever I can. Thanks.

  • Black Guy

    The only reason Sony had a greater backing from developers last generation is because Sony had already established themselves in the game w/ PS1. By the time Xbox was ready, the PS brand had been on the market for about 5 years. Now that the Xbox is a proven brand, more developers r willing to devlop for the 360; it would be idiotic for them to simply ignore that market. PS3 will probably maintain its #1 position w/ more games, but it will not be consistent with what it had enjoyed in the past. The X360 will close the gap especially in America & Europe where the system is doing very well.

    Exclusive titles? If u haven’t noticed, not too many 3rd party publisher/developers are keen on developing exclusive titles these days and Sony can only buy so much. With increased development costs, there r going to be many more games going multiplatform in order to maximize profit potential. It will primarly b the responsibility of the 1st / 2nd party publisher/developer to distiguish their respective systems.

    Will the PS3 eventually outperform the X360 on the technical front? Maybe, but iDon’t think it will b a significant difference to matter. Recall that there was a noticable performance lag between the same title running on Genesis compared to the SNES, but the Genesis was still able to represent until Sega put their up their ass. It should also be considered that Sony is notorious for grossly exaggerating the performance claims of their products. Remember 1.5 million polys on PS1 or Toy Story running in realtime on PS2? I’m still laughing uncontrollably @ those who actually believed that.