Friday, June 16, 2006

Gaming By the Numbers

Two sets of numbers.

First, Chucky D over at Cheap Ass Gamers put together an interesting analysis of backward compatibility and the Xbox 360 (thanks Joystiq). Using Metacritic, he put together a list of the 300 best-reviewed Xbox games and checked to see which ones were playable on the 360.

Great idea.

27% of the top 300 were playable. 32% of the top 100.

Here's a link to the full story.

That certainly doesn't match Microsoft's statements about backward compatibility pre-launch, but it's also been pretty clearly established that making titles backward compatible is a bear. Going from an Nvidia GPU to an ATI GPU alone must cause huge headaches.

I've pretty much made my peace with backwards compatibility, with the exception of one title: ESPN NFL2K5. It's the 17th best-reviewed Xbox game on Metacritic, it's far better than the two sports games listed ahead of it (which both came out earlier), and it's the best sports game ever released for the Xbox. It was also spectacular looking, even in 480p.

And we'll never have another one, because EA has thrown insane amounts of money to the NFL and the NFLPA for an exclusive license.

Exclusive sports league licenses are a curse on gaming mankind. I mean, not that I'm bitter about it or anything.

Second, DQ reader Glen Haag sent me an interesting piece of information that he saw on the Gaming Age Forums. Neither one of us can find the thread anymore, so I don't have a link, but it's basically a compilation of monthly sales information for all consoles and handhelds since October 2000.

I can't verify that all the numbers are totally accurate, but the bits and pieces I can confirm make me believe that it's solid.

Here's what I found that was most surprising (to me, anyway): console sales in November and December (combined) roughly equal sales for the rest of the year. That's not exact, and when new consoles get introduced they skew the numbers. But if it's not a launch year for a console (or its successor), sales seem to follow that pattern.

I knew that there was a holiday bias in terms of hardware sales, but man! So there are two "halves" of the console hardware year: November/December and the rest of the year. Amazing.

The other thing I noticed is that price drops have an immediate and significant effect. Sony knows this, so their "strategy" for the $599 PS3 (which totally ignores price sensitivity in the gaming market) appears at this point to have consisted entirely of dropping a large weight on their foot, followed by hopping around.

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