Thursday, March 22, 2007

Console Post of the Week

Here's a quick summary of what's going to happen in Europe.

Launch Day (LD): Sony declares that it was the GRATEST LAUNCH EVAR.
LD +1: someone posts pictures of midnight launch locations that were strangely absent things like, um, lines.
LD+5: the resale market for the PS3 in Europe indicates that everyone thinking they could flip their console for a profit made a big, big mistake.
LD +10: pictures of stacks of PS3's sitting around at retailers are widely circulated.

In May, the April sales numbers will get released, and shockingly, the PS3 will be selling no better in Europe than it is in North America or Japan.

The price of this unit is an endemic problem. It cannot be resolved by spending more money on marketing. Period.

Next, here's a note from Gamespot: Final Fantasy XXIII may not be platform-exclusive.
One more platform-exclusive title may be going multiplatform, it has been revealed. The latest news appears to be that Square Enix's latest epic role-playing game, Final Fantasy XIII, may follow other titles--including Saints Row, Assassin's Creed, and Devil May Cry 4--that have now been announced as appearing on at least one other platform as well.

Sony Computer Entertainment France president Georges Fornay dropped the bombshell in an interview with French-language newspaper
Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace (subscription required). He said, "The development costs of games have exploded, and it has become more difficult to have exclusives, outside of our own games. But we have for launch day [in France] 30 games, including MotorStorm, Resistance: Fall of Man, and Virtua Fighter 5. Moreover, we are expecting 200 games [for the PS3] by the end of 2007...As far as Final Fantasy XIII goes, I can tell you that the exclusivity is in discussion."

If that's true, and FF XIII comes out on multiple platforms, it would be an absolute disaster for Sony. Actually, "catastrophe" would also be accurate.

Remember how I talked about the flow of software and how it would change because of the PS3's price and the Wii's fun? When the PS3 launched, EB Games listed more games in development for the PS3 than for the 360. I believe it was eleven pages of PS3 "coming soon" and either nine or ten pages for the 360 (I'm doing this from memory, so it could easily have been twelve-ten or something similar). Also, there were only four pages for the Wii.

I said back then that those numbers were going to change radically.

Today I looked and the 360 now has ten "coming soon" pages. The PS3 has eight. And the Wii has six.

This is not an absolute comparison, because EB slips some non-game crap into the Coming Soon pages. But as a rule of thumb, I think it's a good guide.

Lastly, Howard Stringer (Sony chairman and CEO) gave a television interview this week (yet to air, although summaries have been made available) where he said “if we fail, it is because we positioned PS3 as the Mercedes of the video game field.”

I guarantee you that was not Sony's intention. Crazy Ken spent so much money on R&D that they were forced to position it that way because of the bill of material costs. When your console costs $800+ to build, you have to position it as a luxury item. Oops.

The non-Sony news this week is that Microsoft is, according to multiple sources, releasing a new version of the 360 for $479 that includes both a 120GB hard drive and an HDMI connection. Once the "special edition" units are sold through, those features are supposed to be incorporated into the "premium" 360 at the $399 price.

More features for the same price is always good, but I think they should be focusing on a price cut instead. Microsoft needs to be conscious of what's happening with the Wii as much as they are with Sony.

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