Report: European PS3 Delay Threatens U.S. Publishers
UBS Investment Research analyst Michael Wallace continues to assess the launch plans for Nintendo and Sony this November, and this time around, he's taking a look at how U.S. publishers might respond to the situation.
While he did mention that software sales are up 3% for the year (essentially proving his original prediction for 2006), he issued a warning that centered on the European PS3 launch delay. Wallace believes this could have a negative impact on some domestic companies' bottom lines for the year, and game publishers may take notice.
Europe had hoped to get a half-million PS3s this year, but with the PS3 bumped to March 2007, the analyst is concerned that this simply translates to 500,000 less potential consumers for early PS3 titles. Furthermore, publishers may ultimately decide to delay games scheduled for 2006 so sales wouldn't suffer; obviously, there will be a much larger userbase in 2007. But as this was a general report, Wallace did not single out any individual games that might be affected.
Further, he was quick to point out that if Sony can live up to its claim of 1.5 million PS3s shipped in the U.S. by year's end, this would make up for the lack of systems caused by the European delay. However, one of the publishers facing a potential downside of the aforementioned delay is Activision, who is relying on the PS3 launch to make their 4Q a big one. EA should also have four or five titles at launch as well, but Wallace believes they have a more diverse portfolio and therefore won't be quite as impacted.
And in more detail, Wallace noted that Activision could counter any potential losses in other aspects of business. For example, Nintendo expects to ship 2 million Wii units to the U.S. by year's end, and so publishers like Activision and THQ could easily take advantage of that (both have at least four games set for the Wii's launch). As of right now, the key clearly revolves around PS3 system availability in the U.S. in November and December. Gamers aren't the only ones keeping their fingers crossed.
10/4/2006 Ben Dutka