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Console Predictions from a Gamer

posted on April 11th, 2007 by matt

After what felt like three bajillion years (which seemed to be filled with pointless bickering), all three systems are finally out on the market, waiting for whomever wants to jump into the next-generation console war. The last few months have been a very telling period for gaming, with the PS3 not performing as well as some would hope, and Nintendo’s new console coming completely out of nowhere with some amazing numbers, especially considering it’s coming off the heels of possibly the worst performing Nintendo console ever, the GameCube. With that in mind, we can get into the nitty gritty: the future. What’s in store for each player in the console war? We can’t say for sure exactly, but we can have fun predicting.

Xbox 360: In a startling revelation that I’ve found while roaming this clogged series of tubes, many people who were on the fence about the 360 went straight for it the moment the PS3 stumbled coming out of the gate last November. It’s only logical, though, what with the $200 cheaper price tag and strong library. The 360 and PS3 have no real discernible differences, so the cheaper one may always win. But can that one-year momentum keep going?

If Sony keeps the price out of reach for the mass market, and Nintendo makes a misstep or two (more on that later) the 360 may become the number one player in the console market. It’s been getting a lot of games that were initially thought to be PS3 exclusive, adding even more power to the brand. Also, Xbox Live is the choice for any form of online gaming, and the Achievements system is what many are calling the main reason to play games nowadays. If Achievements can get people to buy the Burger King games, then you know Msoft did something right. Many people have stated that, if a game came out for PS3 and 360 with very few differences between the two versions, they would go for the 360 one just for the Achievements.

A 360.

The 360 has a lot of things going for it right now. It has a healthy library of games that is growing by the minute. It’s got a cheaper price tag, and is a very robust system concerning other forms of multimedia. If the PS3 continues to stumble, then you can bet your ass that the Wii60 will become a reality, with the 360 pretty close to the top.

As of right now, though, the 360 is still rooted in the hard-core sector of gaming. Only people who are really into gaming have a 360 or plan on getting one. This will become a problem if Sony can correct its issues, as the Playstation brand is extremely powerful with all walks of life, casual and hardcore. People are still following the PS3, hoping the price goes down, and if it does, the 360 will have a hard time recovering, and it will be original Xbox all over again. Strong performance, but nothing that great.

As for Japan, I’m sorry, but the 360 is dead in the water. They really should have waited until they had a big enough Japanese-based games library to release with the system. Blue Dragon, and possibly a good Gundam game at the starting gate would have done a lot to get the Land of the Rising Sun to give the big white box a chance. As of now though, the 360 will do better than the original one, but nowhere near as well as the Wii or PS3. Think Dreamcast status, and you’ll understand how good/bad the 360 will do in Japan.

And yes, Halo 3 will destroy the competition, but I just can’t see it making that big a difference in the long run. It will get the remaining stragglers to buy the system, but again, Halo is for hard-core gamers, and will not make the 360 the de facto system to have. If that were the case, then the original Xbox would have been number one last generation, and that simply didn’t happen, even when it had two Halo games under its belt. Expect stellar sales, but next January it will be back to normal.

PS3: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the price is Sony’s biggest problem right now. No one wants to spend $600 on a video game system, no matter how big a bang it is for their buck. It’s just too steep an entry fee. If Sony doesn’t do something about the price, then I can easily see the PS3 finishing dead last in the console wars. I would even go as far to say that the games selection would not court gamers to its side if the price stays the same. Metal Gear Solid 4 will help sell consoles, but it will only be a one time deal. Once that games sells its 2 million+ units (consisting of people that already own a PS3), the PS3 will still perform badly in the market, all because of the price.

It would be easy to say Sony should reduce the price, but you really do get a lot under the hood. It is the most powerful system, it has Blu-Ray, and it comes with a 60GB HDD. Having a system like that is great, but again, it comes with a hefty price tag. And if we look to the PSP, Sony was very tough with the $200 price tag until now. In comparison, the DS went down in price only one year after being released.

A PS3.

Home will do nothing to bring gamers into the PS3 fold, either. It’s just not something that can turn everything around, no matter how good Phil Harrison can spin that “Game 3.0” bullshit. It’s a very innovative idea, but it’s really only a bonus for having a PS3 in the first place, not a reason to buy one.

Also, many people think getting a Blu-Ray player for $400 less than a stand-alone player is a reason to get a PS3, but again, it’s just a benefit for having a PS3. Blu-Ray will win against HD-DVD because of this, but it will not make the PS3 the winner in the console race.

If Sony can reduce the price, then the PS3 will completely trounce the competition. That’s where its answer lies. Once that is ironed out, the Playstation brand will become unstoppable. At $400, the system would be amazing, and everyone would flock to it. The 360 would be left in the dust. But this is a huge if. For the immediate future, the PS3 will be a niche console.

Wii: This was the wild card that I predicted would change a lot. I knew it was gonna be good, but I never thought it would be this good. The Wii has reached 60% of 360’s install base in just under four months. That’s simply amazing. Three games have already sold a million copies (Wii Sports and Wii Play in Japan, and Zelda in NA), when it usually takes a little more than six months for a system to achieve that, and it’s usually only one title, not three. The Wii, for all intents and purposes, is THE console right now. If nothing changes, the Wii will become number one in little over a year. That’s if the momentum it has right now stays strong, which may actually happen. I think this year’s Wii lineup is extremely robust (compare it with 360’s first year and it easily beats it), and will help the system reach the holiday season with enough power to get consumers to continue to buy it in droves. Super Mario Galaxy will become another million seller by years end, and Brain Age will help get more non-gamers into the system’s strongholds.

A lot of Wii’s ultimate success lies in what happens next year. I will go out on a limb here and say Smash Bros. Brawl will come out in early 2008, and be the big game of the first quarter. I think Nintendo knows that this is THE game for the system and they want it to be as good as it can be. With Mario in the forefront, and with all those non-gamer games that they probably have waiting in the wings, Nintendo has enough on its plate, and doesn’t want to ruin the game most likely to be the Wii’s biggest game in its lifetime. So expect a longer wait than you thought.

As for after that, it’s a big if with the Wii. Nintendo will have released all of its major franchises by then. I can see Pikmin swooping in, but that’s not their strongest seller. I think 3rd party titles are what’s gonna pull the Wii through 2008, and it’s a 50/50 chance if it comes out alright. 3rd parties have not instilled a lot of faith with the Wii masses, and if they can’t get their act together by the end of this year, then the Wii will be just another Nintendo-based console. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it will not help Nintendo regain their number one spot. It will do better than the GameCube, but will not beat the 360 or the PS3 in the long run. And if Sony drops the PS3 price to a reasonable amount, then say goodbye to Wii’s chances altogether.

Wii.

The best bet is for Nintendo to prove itself once again with the non-gamer masses. I’m betting Wii Sports 2 will be showcased at 2008’s E3, becoming another million seller for the Big N. Expect it to be online-enabled as well, solidifying its success with even the hardcore gamers. And this is just speculation. Nintendo could drop the ball and lose the one opportunity they had to regain their #1 status.

Synopsis: Everything hangs on what Sony will do with the PS3’s price. If Sony reduces it, then put all your money on the big black box. 360 is a viable choice for most gamers only because of Sony’s faltering, and the Wii seems to be holding onto a very short string with the masses (even though I don’t think its justified). Once Sony gets the price of the PS3 down to $400, the gamers will forget about the Wii and the 360, and it will regain the stranglehold that it had with the PS2. Personally, I don’t see it happening until late 2008, maybe early 2009. And that’s far too late to make any real difference. It will help the PS3 surpass the 360 in this generation, seeing as how the 360 still seems a little too hardcore-ish to become a mega hit, but it will be so far behind the Wii that we can safely say it will end up in second place.

If I had to give a short concluding sentence for all you short-attention spanners, I’d say Wii wins by a fairly big majority, 360 stays strong until the PS3 comes from behind to take second place. I think all of them will perform very strongly, but it won’t be like last generation, with one huge winner. I’ll go even further and predict units sold globally: 75 million for Wii, 45-55 million for PS3, and 35-45 million for 360, only because of Japan’s complete lack of enthusiasm for the system.

Totally awesome to act like a financial forecaster:)

4 Comments

  1. tony said on April 12, 2007:

    I don’t agree that the problem with the PS3 is just based on the cost.  When the PS2 came out people said "No way will anyone pay $400 for a game console.  Sony is crazy and they will fail."  Well we know how accurate that statement was, and it was because of the amazing catalog of games Sony was able to amass, not the later price drops, that made it sell so well.  Simply put, there isn’t one game out for the PS3 that makes me want to buy the system at this point.  You can tell people it’s a strong system, and that it plays fancy DVDs, but if there’s no games people won’t buy it … period.  Sony needs good games and they need them fast.
    The same can be said about Nintendo.  I played the shit of out my Wii (huh, huh) for the first three months I had it.  Now it sits on my console rack next to my 360 that is constantly on.  I can see it crying … it even tries to tempt me with its pulsing blue come-hither look … but it’s just a message from Nintendo telling me not to break my wrist straps like a douchebag.  There’s nothing out for the Wii right now either.  Couple that with the lack of online functionality and it’s threatening to kill all of its well earned buzz before June.  If Nintendo didn’t have Zelda, Metroid and Mario ready to go within five months from launch, they should have waited.  Eight months (maybe) for a Metroid game is stupidity.  Over a year for a Mario game is just damn insane.

  2. tony said on April 12, 2007:

    Oh and Super Paper Mario doesn’t count.  You know the Mario I’m talking about.

  3. jay said on April 12, 2007:

    I disagree. Everyone’s point may be different, but there’s a price point that is just too high. The PS3 could have exclusive rights to MGS3, RE5, DMC4, FF13, Super Mario Galaxy and the Second Coming of Jesus but at $600 it just doesn’t make the slightest difference to me. If PS3 games were all free I’d still have to think about purchasing a system that expensive. I guess what really matters is the price at which the majority of gamers are just uninterested. I cannot say it’s $600, but I can’t conceive of it being much higher.

  4. pat said on April 12, 2007:

    im pissed at sony for expecting me to be able to pay $600 for their system, but i have to admit, if they had a handful of games i really wanted i would probably blow some of that fat (just kidding) bonus check on a machine.  this game, from naughty dog, looks like a good start in that direction.  if it does become the home of the best rpgs and adventure-type games i’ll find the cash somewhere. as far as the wii is concerned, im loving it so far but i havent bought anything besides zelda.  there just arent a ton of good options yet, they need a bigger, more eclectic library. 

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