Console Post of the Week: Eight Miles HighTo begin, let's look at the December NPD numbers again:
Also, let's look at the combined November-December numbers to get a look at the critical holiday month sales (remember, November-December sales are often as large as the other ten months of the year combined):
Here's a comparison with last year (November-December) in terms of growth:
Anyone can interpret that data. Except Kaz Hirai.
Here are some excerpt's from Kaz's latest interview with Official Playstation Magazine (thanks Eurogamer):
"This is not meant in terms of numbers, or who's got the biggest install base, or who's selling most in any particular week or month, but I'd like to think that we continue official leadership in this industry," Hirai told Official PlayStation Magazine.
"It's difficult to talk about Nintendo, because we don't look at their console as being a competitor. They're a different world, and we operate in our world - that's the kind of way I look at things.
"And with the Xbox - again, I can't come up with one word to fit. You need a word that describes something that lacks longevity," he added with a laugh.
"We don't provide the 'easy to program for' console that [developers] want, because 'easy to program for' means that anybody will be able to take advantage of pretty much what the hardware can do, so then the question is what do you do for the rest of the nine-and-a-half years?" explained Hirai.
I mean, I'm used to most Sony gaming executives being complete dicks--they have been for years now--but even so, the hubris is pretty breathtaking.
My favorite is what Kaz says about Nintendo: They're a different world, and we operate in our world - that's the kind of way I look at things. Yes, they live in a world where their console outsells yours 3-1. Let's call that the "real world." You, Kaz, live in a world where unicorns run through rainbow colored streams and PS3's are made out of solid chocolate.
I think Willy Wonka had a better grasp on reality than these people.
His other classic quote is his brilliant discussion of console architecture:
We don't provide the 'easy to program for' console that [developers] want, because 'easy to program for' means that anybody will be able to take advantage of pretty much what the hardware can do, so then the question is what do you do for the rest of the nine-and-a-half years?
Gee, I don't know. Make a bunch of damned good games, maybe? Seriously, has this guy ever been more of a tool than in this interview?
What Sony has done with their architecture is guarantee that only a small fraction of developers who make games for the PS3 will be able to get the most out of the hardware. It's a bizarre kind of elitism, and by bizarre I mean "stupid."
Isn't Hirai sounding more and more like an exiled dictator giving interviews from his Paris apartment? "We continue official leadership of this country."
Okay, it's pretty clear where we are right now. So where are we going?
Like I mentioned last month, I think that Sony and Microsoft are going to play price leapfrog for the next 18-24 months. When Sony pulls within $50 of the mid-level 360 SKU, they'll outsell the 360 by 10-15% in the U.S. When Microsoft pulls out to a $100 gap, though, the PS3 will continue to get crushed by nearly 2-1 margins.
This means that Sony, at some point, has to reach price parity with the 360 Pro. Selling for $50 more isn't going to get them anywhere. Actually, that's not quite correct: to gather any momentum, the PS3 has to STAY at price parity with the 360. So if Sony cuts the price by $100 this spring, as it's been rumored, they have to be prepared to cut the price AGAIN when Microsoft responds.
I don't think they can do that.
Nintendo had a historic year in the U.S. market. The PS2 sold 8,420,000 units in 2002, the same year that they cut the price to $199 (in May). That was the single biggest year for a console in history.
The Wii sold 10,151,300 units in the U.S. in 2008.
That's a shocking number, but here's context to make it even more shocking: that's more than double the best year of either the 360 or PS3.
Having said that, the Wii's fall software line up was mostly crap, except for the wonderful Monster Lab and De Blob. Nintendo totally whiffed on their own games (Wii Music was a huge disappointment), and they seem to be losing momentum in terms of quality games. There's no question that Nintendo is going to be a huge, force-of-nature financial success in this generation, but this is the first time I've questioned whether the quality games are going to follow.