Software Still The #1 Console Pusher
We are well aware of the year. We know it's not 1993. Back then, video game consoles played video games and nothing else. But now, over 15 years later, our game systems are full-fledged home entertainment units, capable of delivering everything from movies to music to picture and video content. Hence, there are plenty of factors to consider when evaluating sales charts in this new generation.
Price, for example, is always a driving force behind sales numbers, especially in an ailing economy. And if the price of your chosen system is a little higher than you might want, reliability quickly becomes another consideration. There are many things to think about, but in the end, the determining factor always remains the same: software. While there may be a few people out there who bought the PlayStation 3 for it's Blu-Ray capabilities, most everyone who forks over the cash to pick up a games consoles wants to play games. Everyone loves to dissect those sales charts, but for whatever reason, the question of software is often lost in the shuffle. Do you want an answer as to why a certain platform sold better at a certain time of year? Sure, you could look at a recent price drop or something like that, but instead, just simplify things and remember that at its core, this industry is still all about the games.
Grand Theft Auto IV releases and sales of both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 increase while Wii sales level off (a lull for them). Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots launches and PS3 sales go through the roof, easily topping both the 360 and Wii for a time. Earlier in 2008, the PSP enjoys the releases of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and God of War: Chains of Olympus, and lo and behold, sales increase, ultimately allowing the handheld to become the best-selling platform in Japan for the first 6 months of 2008. Gears of War 2 releases in November, causing holiday sales of the 360 to spike. PS3 sales didn't really spike due to LittleBigPlanet, Resistance 2 and PlayStation Home, but then again, Sony's advertising for such games was downright awful. If the consumers aren't aware of the games, it's tough to sell the system. They're pushing LBP pretty hard now, though, and Home will continue to be a selling point as it grows.
Killzone 2 will cause PS3 sales to rise. So will Gran Turismo 5 and God of War III. Heavy Rain and Infamous may have some impact, too, which is why we consider 2009 to be a winning year for the PS3. Sony's machine should also get a price drop at some point in 2009, but really...so what? Who cares if it dropped to $199 if it didn't have any games to play? Who's even considering the PS3 as a Blu-Ray player alone? Who wants the 360 for Netflix and the new Xbox Live Experience? No, look: if there's a GTAIV, sales go up. If there's a MGS4, sales go up. If there's a Gears 2, sales go up. There are other factors to consider and price is always important, but games are still - thank God - the #1 console pusher in this industry. Can't get any simpler than that.
12/30/2008 Ben Dutka