Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Console Notes of the Week

"Notes" because there are only a few bits of information this week, which is not a bad thing once in a while.

First off, the reports that the 40GB PS3 are using 65nm chips are incorrect. Sony confirmed to Heise Online (thanks Engadget) that the 90nm CPU is still being used. However, Sony also confirmed that the design had been updated to consume significantly less power--from 180-200 watts originally to 120-140 now. That's extremely impressive, and it should make the new unit significantly quieter.

N'Gai Croal has the monthly NPD roundtable discussion with Geoff Keighley here, and it's long. It's all good, though, and there were two notes I particularly wanted to comment on. The first is by Geoff Keighley:

With the PS3 in a weakened position and the 360 coasting along in third gear (but not fifth), the most interesting stat in the September NPD relates to the Wii. And it's not Wii Play's sales. No, it's the sales of the top third party game, #15 on the overall charts: Carnival Games from Take-Two Interactive. Now by all accounts this is a throwaway game, with a milk bottle throw and a skeeball simulator. And it's beating the sales of any games from EA, Activision, THQ?! This should be sending a shockwave through the industry! Here the Wii is the best selling platform of the year, and EA is being beaten by a bunch of carnival games with motion controls?

He's right, but he's got it backwards. We've got Carnival Games--I played it every day with Eli 6.2 for a month. As a game for grown-ups, it's true that it's a "throwaway," but as a game to play with your family, it's a blast. There are 25 different games, they're all very faithful to the real-world versions, and the motion-sensing controls are put to good use.

Carnival Games had a bit of advertising behind it (not a lot), but what it really had going for it was word of mouth. And that word of mouth will help it sell 250,000+ units by the end of the year.

Why did I say that Geoff had it backwards? Because when he says "...by all accounts this is a throwaway game," he was referring to the reviews, which have been dismal. On Metacritic, there are 22 reviews with an average score of 56.

So reviewers really despised this game. I think that's one example, though, of the fundamental disconnect between how the people who review Wii games play them and how everyone else plays them. Another good example is Mario Party 8, which has an average score of 62 with 39 reviews. It's another game that reviewers really disliked--and it's sold well over a million units.

Again, as a one-person game, a 62 is a fair score. But who's going to play it by themselves?

The reviews for Wii games that are primarily a single-player experience have been much more accurate overall, so it's not that reviewers hate the Wii. They just aren't playing the "party games" in the context in which they're meant to be played.

One last note, also from N'Gai (as I hop from topic to topic like a drunken bunny): NPD has inexplicably decided to cut back on the information they give the media each month. No more monthly console sales, just quarterly. Instead of the top ten selling games of the month, just the top five.

We'll still get all this information, obviously, because subscribers to the NPD service are going to leak/announce everything, so I have absolutely no clue why NPD would do this. It makes nothing they sell more valuable, and it lowers their profile as an organization.

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