Nintendo released their fiscal 2011 financials today, and looking over the sells charts for the 3DS, it became readily apparent the effect last summer’s price drop has had in turning the misfortunes of that system around from the dismal start last spring. The effect is so pronounced even, that 3DS is gaining traction faster than the DS, or the Wii in all three major sells markets: North America, Europe and Japan.
Looking at that charts in fact, not only can you see exactly when the 3DS price change occurred, but how far 3DS adoption has climbed, both in reference to the DS and the Wii, has got me thinking that Sony may seriously want to reconsider the price point of the PlayStation Vita before it launches next month, or they may be looking at a repeat of the 3DS’ initial dismal performance, prior to last summer’s price drop.
Well it would appear that CES once again, has become the dumping ground for the major game console makers to announce the previous year/quarter’s hardware sells numbers to the public. These are worldwide numbers for units sold during Q4 2011, and a huge shocker came out of this weeks announcements. Heavy competitors Sony and Microsoft were the first to announce their numbers. Microsoft last night at the CES 2012 keynote event, and Sony today in a press release from the show floor. Starting with the PlayStation 3, which has been slowly gaining on the Xbox 360 for the past five years and was poised to catch up the the market leader last year, Sony announced an Earth shattering 3.9 million units sold globally for the crucial quarter ending the calender year, 2011. However, the news of Sony’s sales numbers were already overshadowed by the previous night’s announcement from Microsoft, who managed to pull out a soul crushing (if you are a Sony fan, soul uplifting, if you reside in the Microsoft court) 10 million units globally, in the final three months of 2011. That is a face slapping 2.6 to 1 sales ratio against the Sony branded game console, which put Microsoft firmly back in the lead, no longer a neck and neck race, between the two consoles.
The question on everyone’s mind today has probably got to be, “how did they pull it off?” And sure enough as I read over the story at Joystiq, that seemed to be the question on everyone’s minds. And surprisingly, considering that it is a multi-console discussion on the very sensative topic of hardware sells numbers, it has got to be one of the most civilized (ie flamebait-free, troll-free, cynicism-free) discussions I have seen online on the subject matter, in almost a decade. There is some really well thought out insight into how Microsoft managed to pull this particular rabbit out of their hat. Anyway, I thought I’d add my $0.02 to the discussion. So here goes . . .
Joystiq’s Jason Lomberg wrote a nice editorial piece concerning video gaming’s shallowness, entitled, I’m Tired of Saving the World. In the piece he goes on about how in creating only the most surface of stories, and always avoiding the more interpersonal type of stories that directly connect with the human condition, gaming as a whole has sold itself short as a medium. In the piece he gives several examples of where gaming has gone wrong, and several more examples of some promising work done in recent years, that while their merits may be debatable depending on who you are, tend to attempt to push games into becoming a more versatile medium; and hopefully, into the true potential inherently in the medium.
Anyone who has known me for more than a few years, across almost any forum I have frequented, knows this issue, and it really is an issue with the medium, is one of those I have written about passionately over the past decade. It used to seem that I was alone in my feelings toward how far the true potential of the medium could stretch, but lately it seems that slowly, more, and more people (at least in the gaming press), are beginning to wake up to this potential. If you have not already read Jason Lomberg’s editorial (linked above), then do so, it is a really good read. And pretty much every thing that follows in the rest of this post, serves kind of as an addendum to what he wrote. I have a future post planned to expound far more into the subject matter than this post is today. I’ve been writing about this for ten years, so you can bet I have more than a few observations, and things to share on the issue. (more…)
For those not in the know, late last night (or early this morning if you are in Europe), cloud gaming company OnLive, released their Android and iOS apps, that will allow anyone with an Android tablet, Android smartphone, an iPhone, or an iPad, to play full PC games anywhere on the go, where they can connect with a 3G, 4G, or WiFi wireless connection. Along with the apps, OnLive debuted the OnLive Universal Controller, which will wirelessly connect to any of the above mentioned devices, plus an entire cornucopia of future HDTVs, blu-ray players and settop boxes that will come with OnLive already embedded in the device. Over 30, out of the near 200 games currently on the OnLive service, do not require a controller to play while using them over your mobile device. Working with publishers, these games either come with button overlays for your touchscreen, or in the case of titles like From Dust (arriving on the service soon), and Rockstar Games’ runaway hit, L.A. Noire, the developers worked extremely closely with OnLive to create game specific touchscreen controls. Which if reports are to be believed, not only represent the future of bringing PC games to mobile ecosystems, but are truly extraordinary, and have to be demoed by everyone to be believed.
Over at Joystiq where I regularly hang out, the topic kind of sprung up among some of the posters there (namely myself, ZoomyRamen, Scuffles, eat it, nerdydesi1, Kentbrockman, and a few others) about how OnLive, and more specifically what they were doing, could serve to benefit PC gaming as a whole. I was in the process of contributing my insights on the issue, upon realizing those insights were getting a bit verbose for Joystiq’s forums, and out of courtesy to the community there, have hosted my comment from my own blog. (more…)
I was over at Joystiq just now, and I was reading an op ed entitled, Nintendo’s creeping doom: how the company came to misplace $926 million, by freelancer writer, Russ Pitts. Russ, an industry veteran formerly of The Escapist, and The Screen Savers, makes some interesting points about how Nintendo got to where they are today – having misplaced almost $1 billion in just six months. It’s a very good read, and I highly recommend you read it when you have the time. In summation, Russ ultimately gets to the crux of his piece, that the true source of Nintendo’s problems, one that even Nintendo refuses to talk about (at least outwardly to the rest of the world), is their seeming lack of ability (or desire) to create great games in a timely fashion for their fledgling hardware. Not to be confused with good games, or “me too” games, but great games. And he’s right on the money with the assertion, but more on that later. (more…)