Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Gaming Console War is Still Undecided, Wii to Take Lead

During the last months of 2007, Sony has made significant efforts to boost the sales of its gaming console, PlayStation 3, which lagged far behind its rivals, Nintendo Wii and Microsoft’s Xbox 360. The latest data from NPD Group are in, showing that in January, PS3 has finally managed to surpass Xbox 360 and moved to the second spot, right behind Nintendo Wii.

Although it was a slow month for gaming sales, Sony sold 269,000 PS3s, 5,000 units less than Nintendo Wii. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 was kicked in the third place, with 230,000 units sold in January. Microsoft blamed the figures on its inability to anticipate strong post-holiday demand. Yes we heard that before. Jeff Bell, head of global marketing for Microsoft's games business, alleges that shortages will affect also the February sales of Xbox 360, but in the spring the company will be able to meet the demand.

This sounds very Wii-like, and maybe it is. Don Reisinger, who has a blog on CNET, said that he too finds this a bit fishy. He says that Nintendo may have well used this shortage stuff to boost its sales and create headlines all over the world over its precious console, which is so good that they just can't produce enough of them to meet demand. Is Microsoft playing the Wii card? It's impossible to find out for sure, but they might be.

Also, PlayStation Network downloads exceeded 7.9 million in January, up from 6.6 million in December 2007. This brings the total life-to-date downloads past the 52 million mark, according Sony Computer Entertainment America. The number of registered PlayStation Network accounts also neared the 3 million mark in North America last month.

"Coming off a great holiday season we see strong momentum behind PS3 in 2008, and feel confident about the year ahead,” said Sony Computer Entertainment America CEO Jack Tretton. "We have Blu-ray emerging as the de-facto high-def standard, the developer community is hitting their stride, consumers are recognizing the tremendous value and innovative services such as PlayStation Home are all in the works, so this is definitely shaping up to be a breakthrough year for us."

Meanwhile, market researcher iSuppli predicted Thursday that the global installed base of Wii game consoles will rise to 30.2 million units in 2008, up from 18 million in 2007, putting it ahead of the Xbox 360's projected 25.7 million units. This means that the long-reign of Xbox may well be finnaly over, with the Nintendo console taking over.

"At the top-line, on an average sales per week basis, January 2007 was actually up nearly 18 percent as compared to last year," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier to Gamespot. "And the big winner was console software which was up nearly 50 percent when compared on a level playing field to last year."

The top game according to sales in January was Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat (Xbox 360, Activision), with 331,000 units sold. Hardware figures indicate that Wii sold 274,000 consoles, followed by PlayStation 3 with 269,000 units, Nintendo DS with 251,000, PlayStation Portable which has sold in 230,000 units and Xbox 360 with 230,000 consoles sold.

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