Thursday, June 12, 2008

May NPD: The Thrill Is Gone

May NPD numbers:

Here's that massive GTA IV bump that was supposed to happen in May (compared to April sales):
PS3: +21,000
360: -1,400

Oh, ouch. That's 19,600 extra units for both consoles combined over April sales, which weren't very high to begin with. And the 360 and PS3 were within a whisker of being outsold by the Wii 2-1 combined as well.

So the biggest release of the year has come and gone, and neither the 360 or the PS3 has averaged over 200,000 units in the last two months?

Again: ouch.

Of the two, though, Microsoft must be even more freaked out than Sony. After all, they paid a $50 million advance to Rockstar for exclusive downloadable content. So what did that and a $50 price drop from last year get them? About 45,000 more consoles than they sold in the same two months from last year, and they got outsold by Sony, even though Sony has released exactly one exclusive this year that anyone cared about (MLB 08: The Show).

Earlier today, it was announced that Jeff Bell (Corporate Vice President of Global Marketing for Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business and Puppy Killer--wait, I added that last bit because his title wasn't long enough already) was leaving Microsoft. I wouldn't be surprised if several more high-level executives follow him in the next three months.

Why? Microsoft had a huge amount of momentum at the end of last year, just huge. Five months later, it has been absolutely and completely squandered. First was the inventory fiasco of the first few months of 2008, followed by inept marketing of the exclusive downloadable content for GTA IV.

The 360 Premium is $50 less than the PS3, but in the U.S., which is Microsoft's best market (by far), they've been outsold (barely) so far this year by the PS3. That's a disaster for Microsoft.

I don't think Sony is happy with PS3 sales, either, but they've got to be quite pleased that they're slightly ahead of the 360 in the U.S., particularly with their staggeringly crap software lineup so far this year.

At some point, I think analysts are going to start questioning whether the Wii is hurting 360 and PS3 sales. If that's asking whether people are buying the Wii instead of the 360 or PS3, I think the answer is "yes," but I also think Microsoft and Sony are responsible. It's very simple: these consoles both cost too much at this point in their lifespan, no matter their features.

If you want to know what kind of juggernaut the Wii's turned into, look at a comparison between the Wii and the PS2 for the first five months of the year.
2002 (PS2): 1.80M
2003 (PS2): 1.88M
2004 (PS2): 1.42M
2005 (PS2): 2.12M
2006 (PS2): 1.28M
2008 (Wii): 2.81M

That's right. Even compared to 2005, the best year for the PS2 in the January-May period, The Wii still sold 690,000 more systems in the first five months.
Monthly average PS2 2005 (Jan-May): 424,000
Monthly average Wii 2008 (Jan-May): 562,000

Incredible. Oh, and out of 28 retailers in my area, how many have the Wii in stock? 1.

And I'm pretty sure by the time I got to that store, it would be gone.

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