Console Wars: How cash affects third party developers.

I thought this was an extremely interesting article from Sankaku Complex (via N4G) [Content warning – some readers may be offended by the anime links and images contained throughout the site.]

The article outlines how Microsoft will pony up money for an exclusive 360 title. At some point the game will be ported to the PS3, but Sony demands that the game contain extra content in order to be superior to the 360 version.

Responding to the complaints of Xbox 360 Tales of Vesperia beta testers, a developer has laid bare the not so shocking truth of just how Namco was paid off by Microsoft to secure an “exclusive” release, but instead merely used the Xbox subsidy to reduce development costs on the PS3 version, which it expected to sell better.

All in all, an interesting read, and is another example of an article that is full of fun user comments. It is funny how emotional gamers get about their systems. You have fans of both camps spinning this one left and right, all for a game that will hardly make a dent on the charts.


Console wars are interesting in Europe.

Not says me, but according to Good Gear Guide (Australian based something or another site found via N4G).

This places the Sony PS3 in a commanding position to usurp the Xbox 360 and Wii as Europe’s best-selling console. (Prior to the launch of the Slim, the original PlayStation 3 was only a million units behind its competitors in this territory.) The success of the PS3 Slim has been echoed around the globe, with total worldwide sales estimated at 500,000 — and that’s in its first week alone. With its inbuilt Blu-ray player, integrated Wi-Fi and free online gaming, it’s hard to argue that the PS3 doesn’t offer better value for money than its competitors (provided you actually want all of these things, of course).

Whichever way you look at it, it would seem that the price is finally right for hesitant PS3 buyers. One thing’s for sure, the console wars are about to get a lot more interesting…

Sustainability. That is where it is at. Ask again after Christmas.


More Final Fantasy Conundrums

There is nothing like a PS3 vs. Xbox 360 controversy to heat up the N4G charts. Add in a dash of Final Fantasy XIII is being compromised due to the limited capabilities of the non Blu-ray system, and you have the makings for a serious chart topper. This story from PS3Center makes the case that the PS3 version, which is the ideal platform for FFXIII, is not going to be perfect.

Many PS3 fans were looking forward to playing the PS3 version of the game with the Japanese voices with English subtitles. It was safe to assume that this would be the case at least for the PS3 version, because it didn’t have the size constraints of a DVD, Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm has this so why wouldn’t Final Fantasy right? Wrong. Due to the limitations of the DVD, the PS3 version of the game has been compromised in order to “keep both versions of the game identical.” This was confirmed with Final Fantasy XIII’s producer in an interview with GameTrailers.

He specifically mentions here that it is because they want to keep the game the same on both platforms, is that the Xbox 360 version not affecting the PS3 version? How hard can it be to include the Japanese audio track in the game? It will most likely include English subtitles anyway; the Japanese language track would simply replace the English language track. Well we can at least hope this will be coming as DLC at a later stage…

What a conundrum for the FF developers/publishers. Keep the game true to form on the PS3 or go after a wider audience and “compromise” FF XIII with a release on the Xbox 360. In the end the potential to make more $$$ always wins out.


360 sucks at playing Sony first party games.

These kinds of articles make N4G and other feeder services go haywire. Grown men cry; women hide the children. The blogsphere blows up. ars technical just posted an interview with Naughty Dog stating that the Xbox 360 cannot handle the upcoming Unchartered 2.

“I guarantee that this game couldn’t be working on XBox 360. It would be impossible. I’m 100 percent sure of this.” Christophe Balestra, co-president of Naughty Dog, spoke with Ars about the technology behind Uncharted 2, the hugely anticipated follow-up to one of the PS3’s best games: Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. “First of all, we fill the Blu-ray 100 percent, we have no room left on this one. We have 25GB of data; we’re using every single bit of it.”

This quote is a candidate for surprise quote of the year.


Consoles break; often.

First thing this morning I checked N4G to see what sort of PS3 price drop announcement was afoot, but right now we are getting silence. I am not sure why I care; it is not as if I am going to buy another PS3 just because they are cheaper. Maybe because mine dies again, which brings me to the point of this post from The Consumerist.

The poorly manufactured, red ring of death-prone console has a 54.2 percent failure rate, compared to 10.6 percent for the PS3 and the Wii’s 6.8 percent.

The magazine surveyed nearly 5,000 readers to get the data. And while the 360’s rate is alarmingly higher than the others, it’s still bafflingly low because it blows the mind to imagine that 45.8 percent of the consoles have not broken. Also, Microsoft’s numbers are inflated because 360s are used the most of the three consoles. Results said 40.3 percent of 360 owners use the console three to five hours a day, compared to 37 percent of PS3 owners. Meanwhile, the plurality of Wii owners (41.4 percent) play their consoles less than an hour a day.

Console failure rates in general are abysmal. I am not sure how they compare to computers, iPods, or other consumer electronics, but the numbers from this article are baffling.


Spinning the numbers. EA revenue by gaming platform.

Another day, another game of spin the numbers. This time MCV (via N4G) shows us that the PS3 outperforms Xbox 360 for EA.

Wii revenues lead the charge at $161m, up from $109m in the same quarter last year. Next up was PC, which courtesy of The Sims 3, bought in a considerable $124m.

Next in line was PS3 with total revenues of $121m, markedly higher than Xbox 360, which generated $73m for EA. The PSP was also a surprise victor over DS with revenues of $38m compared to DS’ $28m.

I guess you could say that is interesting, but it is funny that the lead was not Wii outshines other consoles, or maybe the PC kicks Sony and MS in the nuts.

Like a lot of articles I reference, be sure to check out the comments.  Sometimes (and this is the case with this article) the comments are better than the article.  Well … maybe more entertaining.


Spinning the numbers.

Console sales data is always a hot topic at N4G, so it is no surprise that this article from Gamezine [UK based] is burning up the charts. What I find surprising [actually this should come as no surprise] is the ridiculous spin everyone puts on this type of data. For example,

Although it’s odd to tout that the PS3 wasn’t that far behind the Xbox 360 during the quarter, it’s surely relevant for those who toot the horn that the Xbox 360 is beating the PS3 with a stick.

Microsoft’s console only sold approximately 100,000 more units than Sony’s PS3 (since the numbers are rounded to the nearest 0.1, the difference could be as little as 20,000 units) and though neither have had a great quarter, the differing price points for the consoles might raise some questions for Microsoft.

Compare that to this article from Gameplayer [an Australian based site] that takes the same data and comes to a somewhat different conclusion.

While Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft all reported a fall in total profits, it was only the latter that still showed a year-on-year increase in the sale of its console. Where 8.7 million consoles were sold during the same period in 2008, 11.2 million made it out the door in 2009. By comparison the once dominant Wii has seen sales more than halved in Q1 of 2009, dropping from 5.17 million units in 2008 to 2.23 million this year. The PlayStation 3 followed suit although not as dramatically dropping from 1.6 million sales, to 1.1 million in a Q1 comparison.

No matter how you spin things, the Wii still has a substantial market share, the 360 is still dominating the next generation market, and the PS3 is still in desperate need of a price cut.


I have nothing. Dog days of summer continue.

It is like a gaming vortex has sucked all the news dry. There is just not much going on right now. Maybe the biggest story is that Xbox 360 Live Gold subscribers will get the Madden 10 demo July 23, a week or so before anyone else. No idea when us poor saps with a PS3 will get to take on some demo-goodness.

In other news, my PS3 is due to arrive today.


Is there honor in third place?

I ran across this article via N4G and thought it was a bit ridiculous. The author is claiming that the PS3 is really not doing that bad. Huh?

In their lifetimes, the Gamecube sold 21.74 million units, and the original Xbox 24 million. With the PS3 at 23 million, that means that it has sold the same amount as the Gamecube and Xbox in about half the time.

Ooh! Ooh! I know the answer to this one. Dreamcast! I am sure Sony never saw the day coming where their shiny new Blu-ray of wonder would get compared to the Gamecube. Good grief. There are silver linings and then there are dark clouds of mumbo-jumbo.

Lastly, there’s the issue of cost. Sony lose money on every PS3 sold. In 2006 when the PS3 launched, Sony were losing approximately $250 on every PS3 sold. But now with Blu-Ray development costs dropping (as well as Sony taking a few features out of the console), the development costs are (as of January last year) about $450. 80 GB PS3s currently cost about $400, which means that Sony is now only losing $50 per PS3. The development costs of Blu-Ray will continue to drop, which means eventually Sony will start making money off of the PS3. Until then, though, they still have sales from the PS2, PSP, and other electronics (such as TVs and standalone Blu-Ray players) to help recover their losses.

But mom! I am only a little pregnant. Something like that. The author can spin the numbers any which way they darn well please, but the simple fact of the matter is that Sony has had it handed to them the last few years.

How is this current generation going to play out? Will a $50 price cut [you know we all want to see $100, but predictably Sony will do the wrong thing] actually salvage things for Sony? Will Sony attempt to keep the PS3 on a 10 year cycle similar to the PSX and PS2? Will Sony abandon the PS3 in hopes of competing with Microsoft by simultaneously launching the next PlayStation with the next Xbox?

There are lots of questions to ponder, but no real answers right now. Maybe I will start a rumor or two later. Until then, happy Sunday!


Friday Stuffs

Because it is Friday. And I have stuffs to discuss.

She’s a good hearted woman…
Happy b-day T! You’re still the best!

Many happy returns.
I never could get Sony’s online repair system to tell me squat about my PS3, but last night I received noticed that my PS3 just left Laredo, TX. It looks like it is due to arrive July 21. After going so long without playing, I am surprised how much I miss the little bastard. Cannot wait to play some more Ratchet & Clank.

That did’t take long.
July 4 I wrote a bit about the Braves making a bid for the NL East. So much for that. At the time of that article, the Braves were 2 GB, 1 under .500 (39-40). Today? Atlanta is still 1 under .500 (44-45), but they are now 6 GB. Sell, sell, sell!

Beckham madness over?
I never thought I would see the day that Beckham was ripped on ESPN, but it looks like that day has finally arrived.

In his first match since the Italian League’s season finale on May 31, Beckham was often behind the play and seemed winded. He had no free-kick chances near the goal, didn’t make any crosses that created threats and didn’t even take all the Galaxy corner kicks while he was in the match.

While this is not exactly a total bitch slap, the article was surprisingly overly negative towards Beckham. I agree with the overall assessment in the article. The Beckham buzz is done. Make of it what you will, but times, they are a changing.

Numbers game.
This article from EndSights (via N4G) contends that the latest NPD data shows that Microsoft is kicking Sony in the crown jewels. Actually, the author is trying to make a point that Sony fans are loyal, but the PS3 base is so much smaller than the 360 that the 360 will always have higher NPD numbers.

When you think about it, this is a bit of a head scratcher. I am not sure what loyalty has to do with it, right Sega fans?

Two of the biggest releases in June were Prototype and Fight Night Round 4, and both sold, in pure units, better on the Xbox 360. Prototype in particular was extremely pronounced, with the Activision published title selling 600,000 units between the two platforms, with the Xbox 360 accounting for close to 70 percent of those units — selling through close to 420,000 units. Fight Night Round 4 wasn’t as drastic. The title sold an impressive 471,100 units between the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, despite only being on retail shelves for five days. The Xbox 360 still represented the bulk of those sales, however, selling through 260,800 units — or 55.3 percent.

Despite the apparent dominance in the software sales chart by the Xbox 360, which, on one level, is an undeniable reality for Sony, also provides some rays of hope for the PlayStation 3 going forward. Conventional wisdom would say that Microsoft has a better hold on the hardcore gamer, as shown by their software sale dominance. Instead, if the June NPD numbers are any indication, it’s not software that Microsoft dominates — it’s hardware.

The whole system race (hardware game) is all about installed base. Grow your install base and make a cut off of each game sold. License fees and royalties rule.

All for now. Happy Friday!


Going, going, gone. Or another story on how Sony sucks eggs.

The only reason I am posting a link to this story from the escapist is because their content is always well written, provoking thought, and of course entertaining. But really, do we need another “Sony lost, blah, blah, blah …” story?

Only the Game Boy kept Nintendo in the race, while Sony led two hardware generations. It seemed immovable.

Then, a series of events brought Sony crashing down to earth. Microsoft released the Xbox 360 at the end of 2005 and enjoyed a full year as the sole next-gen console. When the PS3 eventually arrived, it did so practically in tandem with the epoch-making, zillion-selling, game-changing Wii.

On the handheld front, Sony’s attempt to remove Nintendo from its portable stronghold was equally disastrous. The PSP went head to head with the DS and came off far worse, hitting 50 million unit sales earlier this year as its rival reached 100 million.

Then the iPhone came along, but we won’t talk about that.

The article then goes on to talk about how news of the PSP Go was leaked prior to E3 and explains that third parties could give a rats ass about Sony. All true? Probably.

I did a write-up on this many moon ago; will have to see if I can dig up the original article. If anyone wants to write about Sony’s struggles, just lament back to the days of 3DO. The hardware was ahead of its time, and the price point was into the stratosphere as far as the average Joe was concerned. Oops, Sony failed to learn from history.

Playing second fiddle to Nintendo’s DS variations probably sucks for Sony, but when you consider the number of PSPs sold is 50+ million, that is a lot of opportunity to make some money. Even if the PS3 stays in third place for the remainder of this hardware generation (however that is defined) at some point I assume that Sony wins the high-def format war. Sony gets a little slice of paradise every time you double dip and purchase a Blu-ray upgrade to your DVD library.


Spreading rumors …

What the hell? N4G has a 1000+ degree hot item from TheSixthAxis. By golly wow, it appears that the PS3 is going to pick up a 360 game, hot dog!

Whilst we can’t reveal any specifics right now, we can now reveal that the PlayStation 3 will play host to a popular 360 favourite. The title, which has to remain under wraps with us for the time being, will be released towards the end of the year. We’ve been promised more information in roughly a month’s time, at which point we’ll be able to share the specifics, first.

Our contact has also let us know that the studio will have other exciting news to share soon enough. Note that we can not talk about this further at this stage.

Holy shit Batman, this is serious news! I’ll play along too just to help spread rumors. Speaking of which …

Did you hear the one about Susan? Some say she’s much too loose. That came straight from a guy who claims he’s tastin’ her juice.

Did you hear the one about Michael? Some say he must be gay.
I tried to argue but they said if he were straight he would’nt move that way.

Did you hear the one about Tina? Some say she’s just a tease. In a camisole she’s six feet tall she’ll knock you to your knees.

Mmmm … love me some rumors. Happy Saturday!


PS3, Rumors, State of the Console Market, and more Eric Lepel

I love these quick sound bites. According to Reuters, Sony Corp Chief Executive Howard Stringer says no PS3 price cuts anytime soon.

Asked about the logic of not cutting prices, Stringer said, “I (would) lose money on every PlayStation I make — how’s that for logic.”

Does that really mean no price cuts for the current PS3 models? There is that Slim thing we keep hearing about. Then you also have the silly rumors about the PS4 arriving in 2011/2012, which falls right in line with Activision saying that they may no longer support the PS3 in 2011.

JC’s Quick Take on the Console Market
I agree with most of the pundits that a price cut is really needed if Sony wants to make any sort of push with the PS3. A $299 price point in the U.S. in time for Christmas would make for a serious spike in sells, but these days I am not sure if Sony really knows their head from their ass. It is almost like there is no real focus or direction, and most of the time the Sony brass are in reactionary mode.

The good news is that I think the videogame market is fairly healthy. Consumers have their choice of the 360, Wii, and PS3. Competition is a good thing; I would hate to see one of the Nintendo, Microsoft, or Sony drop out of the hardware arena (i.e. Sega). Just think, a few years ago we lost Sega, and many experts thought Nintendo was next. Sony was dominating the market, and everyone was speculating if Microsoft has the wherewithal to make another run at Sony with a second console. Time marches on.

Eric Lepel … again
Sony’s Eric Lepel is making the interview rounds; this time with PCWorld.

You’ll definitely see another firmware update this year, but it won’t be like what the rumors say. We’re working on some consumer features that consumers will definitely like, but it’s nothing like what you’re reading about, and at this time I don’t want to confirm any of those features because they’re not completely locked down yet. We’re looking pretty good, and timing is a little rough, but just in terms of that rumor, it’s not the case.

At least now the rumor writers have more room for rumor speculation and blogging. After all, just what is Sony hiding with the next major firmware revision? Whatever it takes to keep the bloggers blogging.