Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Console Post of the Week

This may look like the story:
According to sales data from Famitsu publisher, the Xbox 360 is the top selling home console in Japan for the sales week September 8th to September 14th...Here's the sales breakdown from Enterbrain:
• Xbox 360: 28,681 units
• Wii: 27,057 units
• Playstation 3: 8,050 units

That has to be the story, right? Has the 360 ever been the best-selling console in Japan, even for a week?

Believe it or not, though, that's not the story. The story is that for the last seven weeks, the 360 has sold more units in Japan than the PS3.

In August, the 360 outsold the PS3 (41,230 to 39,594). In the last three weeks, the 360 has sold 32,849 units, while the PS3 has sold 26,147 (that includes two week of data from Media Create and this last week from Enterbrain).

Here's some context. Look at how many PS3's sold for each 360, by month:
Dec-06--3.31 (severe inventory shortage)
Jan-07--3.23 (same)

I bolded every entry with a ratio below four-to-one. With the exception of two months with extreme inventory shortages following the launch of the PS3, that ratio had been below three only once before July of this year. Now, when September concludes, it will have been below three for three months in a row.

What's going on? The obvious answers are Tails of Vesperia last month and a price cut this week, but it's also a statement on how incredibly poorly the PS3 has done in Japan. It's been a washout, basically.

Microsoft also announced additional price cuts in both the UK and Europe this week. This comes on the heels of price cuts in both the U.S. and Japan. Simply put, Microsoft has gotten aggressive again.

I think one of the most important questions for this generation of consoles is whether Sony will ever be able to eliminate the price gap. I don't care if Blu-Ray represents "more value"-- the PS3 needs to sell at the same price as the 360 to reach critical mass. If they are content to stay $50 behind (at best), and $100 behind (at worst), then they're going to be chasing. They'll sell slightly better at the $50 difference, but worse at the $100 difference.

For Sony, this is the big fail. That's why they have to break out of this cycle, and I don't know how long they can afford to wait.

I didn't discuss Nintendo this week, but Mike Gilbert sent me a link to an article over at The Consumerist about an out-of-warranty Wii owner who needed to get their console repaired. It's surreal--in a good way.

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