Monday, July 19, 2010

Console Post Of The Week: NPD and 3D

First off, the numbers for June:
360: 451,700
Wii: 422,500
PS3: 304,800

Last year:
360: 240,600
Wii: 361,700
PS3: 164,700

Unquestionably, that was a big month. For everyone.

360 demand wasn't quite "unprecedented" (Microsoft's P.R. BS), but it was pretty damned good. Context: besides September 2007 (Halo 3 launch), this is the best non-November/December month the 360 has ever had. This also seems to be an indication that Microsoft has a substantial market waiting for them at lower prices, because 35% of the June total were Arcade units sold at the $150 clearance price.

Sony also must be breathing a sign of relief, since they nearly doubled last year's total. Matt Matthews let me know that when I mentioned Sony's inventory problems easing, that it had actually been during the June period, not May. So while they still got pounded by Microsoft, they also didn't have a new unit or special pricing during the month, either.

If you're curious about year-to-date totals, so am I, and here they are (through June in the U.S.):
Wii: 2,455,700
360: 1,914,500
PS3: 1,591,000

Last year?
Wii: 3,024,400
360: 1,620,600
PS3: 1,119,900

Yes, the Wii has clearly slowed, but don't cry for me, Wii Nintendo. Lifetime installed base in the U.S.:
Wii: 29,571,000
360: 20,572,200
PS3: 12,717,000

At this point, I don't really understand why anyone is excited by these consoles anymore. The 360 is on its fifth year, and the Wii and PS3 are on their fourth. Their technical limitations, at this point, are obvious, and I thought that a new Microsoft console would be here no later than holiday 2011.

Now, though, that looks like an entirely wrong projection, because it appears that everyone is going to milk these consoles until the last drop is dry.

Richard Lawler e-mailed after the last console post and mentioned that the HDMI 1.3 spec offered no real-world advantages over 1.2 when it comes to 3D. An excerpt:
There's plenty of headroom to even send 1080p frame sequential 3D, it takes less bandwidth than 1080p60 2D,which the 360 can already send, it's just not an issue. The only reason Microsoft isn't pushing it like Sony is because they don't have TVs to sell, the rest is trivial.

I think it's fair to mention televisions to sell, because Sony desperately needs 3D to sell for the overall strategy to work. I think it's also fair to mention that for both of these consoles, there are CPU limitations. I mentioned my suspicions last week, but Sony made it official:
Sony has revealed that their official guidelines to 3D PlayStation 3 games do in fact limit games to a resolution no higher than 720p. 

Wait, there's more:
Benson admitted that a "more cinematic game" might actually benefit from a lower frame-rate and higher resolution, but he said the Sony guidelines don't allow for it. He also assured that even trained computer graphics artists could barely see a difference between a 720p and 1080p image in a 3D game, so it's unlikely many regular consumers will notice.

That's pretty damned funny, really, because the only reason anyone cares about 1080P is because Sony claimed anything less wasn't "full" HD resolution! So when Blu-Ray and HD-DVD were battling it out, Sony endlessly claimed that HD-DVD was inferior because it didn't support 1080P. So the difference between 720P and 1080P in 2D is massive, but the difference in 3D is barely noticeable?


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