Archive for 2006

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.

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New Poll: Revolution vs GameCube

Related to my discussion of the Revolution in my post about the console war, I have a new poll for you.

Will the Revolution play a larger role than the GameCube did?

Yes – much larger. (Takes significant market share from PS3 & 360.)
Yes – a little more. (Takes small market share from the PS3 & 360.)
No – about the same. (Market share about the same as the GC.)
No – worse. (Revolution will do worse than the GC did.)

Pick your poison. (Poll is in the sidebar.)

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Moore on PS3 Launch

Way back when, a long time ago, Gates made some remark about PS3 coming out and BAM! meeting Halo 3 in the market. Like Halo 3 would have some kind of impact on the sales of the PS3. I wrote something about it, but I’m too lazy right now to go looking for it. Anyway, Microsoft’s Mr. Moore came out on record saying that he does not think that Halo 3 could have that kind of influence over the PS3 launch. (Which I totally agree with and is one of those oh-so-obvious things that you don’t really want to mention because they’re so obvious but the irony of it is so great that you have to talk about it anyway.)

Here’s the quote:

They’ll launch and it’ll be very successful. There’s no doubt, regardless of whether I throw a title in there or an update of Live or whatever, that it’s not going to affect their launch.

You don’t think they’re not going to sell out of PlayStation 3s, do you? You think that if I could create a piece of IP so that PlayStation 3s would arrive at Best Buy and they’d sit on the shelves? Come on, it’s not going to happen.

But the more interesting quote is this one:

The Halo Nation would string me out from some flagpole if I used Halo to be a competitive counter balance to something else, for it to be anything other than for it to be the greatest game ever on an Xbox console – or on any console.

There’s too much invested in this franchise and the Halo Nation is too dear to us to use them as pawns in some bigger game. It doesn’t work that way.

Which sounds kind of strange to me. Microsoft is famous for announcing products just to swipe at a competitor. For pre-announcing products. For releasing crappy products. All to prevent people from buying a competing software package. But I guess Mr. Moore is talking about something totally different…

Kikizo – Moore Says MS Can’t Touch PS3 Launch

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PS3 Easier than PS2

This bit of “news” has been making the rounds recently and I thought I’d put in my two cents. The Killzone tester who writes this later in the thread even complains how everybody’s quoting him, which I find amusing. This dude is the only source of any kind of interesting information about the PS3, and he’s surprised when everyone plasters his statements all over the net? Tee hee. Anyway, here it is:

And as for the PS2 vs PS3 development question. I was chatting to Michiel and he was telling me how crazy-easy it was compared to the PS2 and how much quicker things have been going for them. I will take his word on that.

Short. Sweet. And totally unsubstantiated. We only have this guy’s second hand word to go by. Legit? No legit? You tell me.

PlayStation Boards – Ask the Dev Team – Part X

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