Posts Tagged ‘xbox 360’

New Report: PS3 surpasses Xbox 360 in Global Active Devices

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Market research firm Strategy Analytics has recently published a report indicating that Sony’s PlayStation 3 has overtaken Microsoft’s Xbox 360 in terms of globally active devices.  In the new report, “Global TV Games Console Forecast: Will New Sensor Technology Revive the Demand?” the firm documents that the active installed based of PS3s at the end of 2010 clocked in at 43.4 million.  Xbox 360’s numbers totaled 42.9, while Nintendo remained king of the console hill with 75.5 million active devices.

Obviously, based on the title of the report, there’s a heavy focus on motion controlled UI, which all three platforms now support.  Sony’s Move controller is easily compared to the Wii’s groundbreaking technology, while Microsoft has gone their own route with the Kinect.

“While the Kinect peripheral has given a boost to Microsoft’s Xbox 360 strategy, the console’s performance outside of the US continues to disappoint,” says report author, Jia Wu, Senior Analyst in Strategy Analytics’ Digital Consumer Practice. “Global demand for Sony’s PS3 has exceeded that of the Xbox 360 in each of the past two years, and we expect that to continue over the coming years.”

The report also includes predictions for the remainder of 2011, with Xbox excpected to fall short of Sony’s numbers.  Strategy Analytics points to a healthy 15.7 million PlayStations moving out the door, while Microsoft with move 13.7 million Xbox units.  The group is also forecasting Nintendo’s continued decline, with just over 10 million units expected to find new lodgings with consumers.  Along with other industry analysts, Strategy Analytics is predicting that Nintendo will launch a successor to the Wii by Q2 2012.

“Microsoft’s second generation console has dramatically improved the company’s position in the digital home,” notes David Mercer, Principal Analyst at Strategy Analytics in a statement. “But its relative weakness in Europe and Asia acts as a drag on its global performance. Microsoft should continue to innovate around its motion sensor technology, which will become increasingly relevant in the smart home era.”

Authored by Senior Analyst Jia Wu, the Global TV Games Console Forecast: Will New Sensor Technology Revive Demand is available directly from Strategy Analytics.

 

Microsoft moves 2.5M Kinect thus far; Nintendo, 1.5M gaming systems in a week

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

If there is a recession going on, please do not tell the American consumers. Based on recent reports, even if times are tough, and money is tight, pixel hungry consumers are out in force.

Microsoft Kinect

Microsoft recently announced that the traditional shopping nightmare day of Black Friday has propelled sales of the motion sensing Kinect over the 2.5 million mark. This represents a global total sales figure, and has been accomplished in only 25 days. And with some quick cocktail napkin math, that breaks down to 100,000 units sold/day.

“We are thrilled about the consumer response to Kinect, and are working hard with our retail and manufacturing partners to expedite production and shipments of Kinect to restock shelves as fast as possible to keep up with demand,” said Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “With sales already exceeding two and a half million units in just 25 days, we are on pace to reach our forecast of 5 million units sold to consumers this holiday.”

5 million units in just 2 months? Impressive numbers for sure Microsoft. To you, I can only say; Hats off. Available in more than 38 countries around the world, and 60,000 retailers, Kinect is Microsoft’s answer to the once-top-of-the-charts Nintendo Wii motion sensing controller. With Kinect, not only can you control games, but also interact with movies, music, and television, and the Kinect system also responds to voice commands.

“Kinect on Xbox 360 was a top performer at Target this weekend,” said Nik Nayar, vice president, merchandising, Target. “We expect Kinect will be a must-have gift this holiday season, so Target will continue to receive consistent shipments of Kinect throughout December. The hands-free, active gaming experience that Kinect offers is something that everyone in the family can enjoy.”

Nintendo

And while Microsoft might be on target to sell 5 Million units before the holiday season comes to an end, Nintendo also received the Black Friday bump, with Redmond reporting that consumers took home a combined $1.5 million worth of Nintendo gear over the course of Black Friday week, November 21st – 27th. Nintendo’s Black Friday sales numbers clocked in at a very healthy 900,000 units of the Nintendo DS line moving off the shelf, and with 600,000 Wii consoles destined for holiday happiness. This numbers do not reflect actual sales numbers, but are derived from Nintendo’s own internal sales estimates.

When viewed in the same Don Draper-esque math, Nintendo moved 9,000 units per hour over the Black Friday Week.

“For the past several years, consumers have decided that Nintendo defined both top value and all-inclusive entertainment, and that sentiment continues again at the start of this shopping season,” comments Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime.

Nintendo points to it’s attractive new hardware color offerings, as well as popular game/hardware bundles as primary drivers for the sales numbers. Bundles include a limited edition Mario red Wii and DSiXL, as well as orange and green DSi systems, all of which feature one iteration or another of the now 25 year old Mario franchise.

Of the past few years, we’ve predicted that the video game industry may be recession proof, and while sales numbers and associated costs have remained relatively consistent with all other forms of entertainment around them, it’s very clear that consumers are finding significant value in video game entertainment. To put a number on that value? Well … it’s somewhere around 5 million for Microsoft and Kinect, and certainly, Nintendo has nothing to complain about with 1.5 million units moved in a week.

 

Apple iPhone OS 4 – Game Changer?

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Last Thursday, Apple capitalized on the buzz surrounding their newest device, the iPad, with an announcement of a “coming soon” OS 4.0 for the companies’ popular iPhone device. The iPad runs on a modified version of this operating system. While the word on the street was all about the multitasking, the lesser discussed inclusion in the 4.0 OS is Apple’s Game Center.

The Game Center is Apple’s introduction of a social gaming network that will reside within the mobile device. In other words, think about the social (and associated purchasing options) features that consoles such as the Xbox 360 and PS3 offer, but all on the go. The Game Center will allow for friend invites, a number of multiplayer game options, as well as leaderboards and matchmaking features.

While Apple has previously stated that they’re serious about games, particularly in regard to the iPhone, this is Cupertino’s first rock solid “above and beyond” feature that definitively backs this statement up. Clearly, this is Apple’s attempt not only to bring gamers together, and presumably push more product, but also to cut in on the action that Facebook has been enjoying for quite some time now.

While the details in Thursday’s announcement were vague at best (possibly contributing to the lack of buzz), the beta release of the OS is slated to include a preview of the Game Center for developers, and include a set of APIs, thus allowing devs to start taking advantage of the newest features offered.

And since the iPad is already running a very similar OS, it’s not a far leap to assume that iPad owners’ behaviors and usage patterns would be similar to iPhone users’. Low and behold, a look at some initial demographics back this theory up. Clearly Games are dominating both of Apple’s portable devices. Now throw some social matching making and friend connections in there, and the avalanche of dollars is poised and ready.
ipadstatistics_april10

And now for the bad.

In theory, Apple’s Game Center is amazing, and should open up hundreds, if not thousands of new opportunities for not only games developers, but developers of all apps. That is, however, if you’re welling to write them all in C/C++/Objective-C. This tiny little snipped, aka clause 3.3.1, has already sparked a debate, with points and counterpoints coming from Jobs himself.

The problem herein, is that a vast majority of today’s games run on a third party engine. And while Apple says that they want to get into the game of games, already limiting the ways and means of getting into the club is a bit counter productive. Yes, developers will bend to Apple’s mighty ways, as they are the keeper of the proverbial castle, but it does show a bit of their obtuseness and arrogance, especially when trying to cater to a crowd that’s traditionally been PC or none-at-all based.

 

Year End Report: Console Games Releases up – but just barely

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

EEDAR’s Jesse Divnich recently disclosed the number of new games for 2009: 1,099 up just slightly from 1,092 in 2008. According to Divnich, this only slight increase doesn’t bode well for the console gaming community.

wii-360-ps3In an interview with GameSpot Divnich comments, “For just the current generation home consoles (PS3/360/Wii), 2009′s release quantities increase the total availability of games to consumers by 55 percent. Unless retail shelf space grows by the same amount, and it won’t, than the retail shelf life for an average game decreases dramatically.”

Divnich also points out that once console titles achieve a certain appeal and/or market presence, they occupy a permanent spot on retailer’s shelves, thereby creating less and less space for new titles. According to Divnich the number of new releases is outpacing the industry’s growth. “It does mean the average new release is producing fewer unit sales than in previous years.” An odd dichotomy in an economic that is seeing game production costs skyrocketing.

However, and this is a big however, Divnich says that digital distribution sales were NOT included in the research data. According to EEDAR’s research, 2009’s largest gainers were Nintendo’s Wii and DS platforms. Both Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s Playstation 3 saw flat or slightly decreased releases. But again, this data does not include digital deliver methods, something that both consoles increased over the past year.

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Based on peak release trends from previous generation consoles as well as industry consolidations, Divnich expects the number of new releases to be on the decline in 2010. Adding to the decline of packaged goods on retailer’s shelves will be increased delivery of games via downloads, as well as the continued development of streaming or ‘cloud’ based gaming solutions.

 

Turbine to tackle console MMO and microtransactions?

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

What would a hot day in Texas be without a little dust raising? It looks like Turbine’s VP of Product Development, Craig Alexander raised a little dust himself, as well as a few eyebrows when he took the stage on the last day of the GDC Austin 2009 event. In his presentation Alexander stated that the market of MMORPG’s on consoles, specifically Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3 could be worth in upwards of $2.3 billion a year. Obviously a number no one is willing to pass on. However, up until now, no one’s taken a fair stab at making this dream a reality. To this end, according to Alexander, Turbine’s about to take a serious run at tapping this multi-billion dollar market.

craigalexanderIn his address, Alexander confirmed that the Westwood, MA based Turbine studios is in fact current at work on a console MMORPG. Citing the technical challenges of the physical operating procedure Sony’s PS3 employs, Alexander said that the team is developing for the PS3, with plans to shortly there after port the title to the Xbox. But if it sounds so easy on paper, why haven’t there been more serious attempts at addressing this market? In the end, it comes down to one simple answer: Money. According to Alexander, any decent attempt at this project is going to cost somewhere in the $20 million range just to develop. Given that Turbine has recently started receiving funding from a proposed $50 million investment round, their popular Lord of the Rings Online shows no signs of dipping in popularity, and their most recent experimentation into the world of hybrid subscriptions/microtransactions supported Dungeons and Dragons is out of the gate with a label of success, it’s fair to say that Turbine has the cheddar to make this a reality.

Alexander says that part of the difficulty in creating an MMORPG for a console is that in order to succeed, it must be radically different from the current state of play. A console MMO would need to have better graphics, less grind, and much more social interaction than is currently employed in the unofficial ‘standard elements your MMORPG must contain’ handbook. Speaking to the fact that many consider MMO’s a purely PC based form of play, Alexander was quick to point out that the same arguments were previously made when applied to sports sims and the FPS genre, but now market leaders Madden and Call of Duty have a massive console audience and following.

When talking monetization, Alexander primarily focused on subscriptions. Notably, he pointed out that reoccurring billing (subscriptions, if you will) options are already available on both platforms, and that the Xbox Live services are a clear indication that set top box players are willing to set up subscriptions and pay for additional enjoyment. If any of this sounds familiar, don’t forget that the rumor mill was rife with speculation back in May when the idea of LotRO microtransactions being utilized in the Xbox 360 item shop circulated. Alexander flatly and specifically denied this rumor of porting LotRO to the Xbox during his presentation.

And while the rumor didn’t pan out, it’s clear that with the implementation of a hybrid model with Dungeons and Dragons Online, and this confirmation that Turbine is seriously committed to a perhaps industry revolutionizing MMO for consoles project, clearly something major is afoot at Turbine. If they can truly hit the nail on the head and show us something that’s never been seen before, the pure subscription based model may have merit, but if they fall anything short of perfect, we may see them revert to something they’ve already seen work, and work well – the microtransaction/subscription hybrid model.

 

Nielsen reports record gaming for June 2009

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

According to a new report published by Nielsen Co., this past June was a banner month in video game play. While sales of consoles might have been flat, it appears that those that already own a console (or two) spent record amounts of time (measured in minutes) gaming. According to a recent NPD Group survey June ’09 hardware sales took a beating, dropping 31 percent when compared to June ’08.

Compared to June 2008, Nielsen’s year-over-year numbers indicate a 21 percent increase in time spent with games. On average, gamers spent 12.8 hours playing during the month of June.

101576-games

Of particular interest, the Nielsen survey clearly indicates that consumers have reached the crucial critical mass numbers with ‘new generation’ consoles, the Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii, as half the minutes played during the month of June were dedicated solely to these consoles. Nielsen’s director of video game services, Geraldo Guzman comments, “The transition has happened. Now that there is critical mass on the new generation of consoles, it gives marketers a chance to reach gamers on the platforms which offer in-game advertising.” An interesting point, as currently only the Xbox 360 and PS3 support dynamically served in-game advertising. However, let’s not forget about the recent WipEoutHD iga fiasco.

The Nielsen study also indicates that more than 50 percent of all gamers are over the age of 18 (insert marketing opportunity here), with teens 12 – 17 making up the largest segment of minutes played players, a massive 25 percent.

 

Ubisoft takes a Q1 51 percent nosedive

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

While yesterday’s report of company record setting revenues from Changyou might be a plus for the gaming industry, major French publisher Ubisoft reported a massive 51 percent drop in Q1 sales to €83 million, or approximately $114 million. This drop represents a missed financial guidance target of 12 percent. Low numbers are attributed to slow sales of Nintendo DS titles, as well as back catalogue PS3 and Xbox 360 games. Company Chief Yves Guillemot said that sales in both the U.S. and Europe have seen a “very sharp slowdown.”

ubisoft“We are currently experiencing a very sharp slowdown in our sales for Nintendo DS as well as sales of back-catalog titles, in the context of a market that is tougher than anticipated,” Guillemot said. “This will have a significant impact on our first-half showing. Against this backdrop, the solid performance of our Wii titles combined with the successful launches of Anno and Call of Juarez are points of satisfaction and demonstrate that good products are continuing to sell well.”

However, it’s not just the sharp slowdown that’s affecting Ubisoft. Guillemot also points to piracy, specifically in the DS sector, as a factor in the company’s poor showing. “Piracy is strong so we are working to put new figurines and new elements in the boxes that will change that in the future… for example in Europe we have the same market share in DS this year as last year…,” Guillemot said. “We see a different attitude toward piracy in the U.S. than Europe. We did a survey that said our consumers will be more willing to buy products than pirate them. ”

This under-performance has led Ubisoft to take on some “damage control” measures. To that end, Ubisoft has reduced its Q2 projections to €80 million ($110 million). Previous Q2 projections were set at €130 million, or $178 million. This deflation of numbers will then represent a 54 percent decrease in Ubisoft’s year-over-year revenues from 2008.

Notably, Ubisoft’s delays in getting Spinter Cell Conviction and Red Steel 2 out the door don’t bode well. Likewise, Ubisoft has also delayed the releases of Ghost Recon and I Am Alive from a projected date sometime in Q4 09 to sometime in 2010.

“We are disappointed that we have to postpone the release of several major games but we consider that this choice is the best one in the long-term interests of Ubisoft,” Guillemot added. “…The excellent response to our games at E3, as well as the high buzz generated for titles such as Assassin’s Creed 2, Splinter Cell Conviction and Avatar, reinforce our belief that the company can achieve strong growth in the second half of the fiscal year.”

With troubling numbers, release date delays, and piracy running rampant, the question begs to be asked; Is now the time that Ubisoft might want to start taking a long hard look at the free-to-play model? Historically, game development has been done at a rather rapid pace (be that a plus or minus), and piracy would literally be eliminated. Granted, Shadowbane went the F2P route, but was closed on July 1 of this year, but we’re also looking at a title that’s almost 6 years old, and lagged behind in a number of areas of today’s free-to-plays. Let’s see just how, and with what Ubisoft can pull itself out of the slump.

 

Battlefield Heroes coming to Xbox and PS3?

Monday, May 18th, 2009

The eagle eyed folks over at GOONL!NE caught what might just be a typo over the weekend, but…it begs the question: OMGZ rlly?  The ‘probably just a typo’ in question concerns a listing in the press release section of EA’s site, listing Battlefield Heroes as having a June 2009 release date for both the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360.

Driving suspicion even further, the ‘official’ release date slated for the PC version of BFH is September 2009.  If that is in fact the case, then a June release of both PS3 and Xbox 360 version seems highly unlikely.  Throw a bit of Battlefield Heroes track record of ‘Hold your fire’ in there, and the rumor becoming even more less likely.  But then again…we’ve seen stranger things happen.

bfh

Adding to the mystique, DICE has said in the past that they’re not interested in porting a PC game to a console version, “We could port the engine and do it I just don’t know what we would gain from it. Everyone’s who’s got a 360 or PS3 also will have a PC that can run this game.”  If I can just think out loud for a second, ’ummm, how about millions of gamers around the world that would rather have a seat on the couch instead of behind a desk, something we do all day long?’  The comfort and convenience of a console factor aside, both Xbox and PS3 have been delving further and further into the realm of microtransactions, and is it just me, or would a premier DICE/EA shooter featuring microtransactions not make both the Sony and Microsoft folks’ mouths water with anticipation?

Again, perhaps this is just one big ol’ typographical error on the part of EA, but with E3 just 12 days away now, the timing does seem slightly suspect.  DICE’s comments about no interest in porting the game to a console version were made over a year ago, and as evidenced by this years GDC and the growing interest by developers and publishers worldwide in microtransactions, perhaps the Swedes have changed their minds, and are now interested in opening the floodgates wide open and letting the sofa surfers have a whack at BFH?  No doubt we’ll hear more about this in the coming few weeks, stay tuned….

Update: The head honcho, Ben Cousins of DICE made a statement on the Heroes Dev. Blog:

Contrary to rumours spreading around the internet in the weekend we have no plans to release Battlefield Heroes on either PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360.

Battlefield Heroes’ mixture of free download (funded by micro-transactions and advertising) and our extensive use of the web for social features means that Heroes is tailor-made for PC.

Ok, fair statement, but are microtransactions and advertising something we’ve not seen on Xbox 360 or PS3?  As far as using the web for social features, I can’t really see how bringing this to a console would kill said features.  With that said, if DICE has no interest, so be it, but wouldn’t it be truly freakin’ awesome to see this one come to consoles?  Rumors (and associated interest) have made the impossible possible in the past.

 

Nielsen study finds gaming up, prime time television consumption down

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

As tougher economic times bear down on the global market, and wallets get tighter, consumer spending and consumption habits are bound to change, appropriately reflecting market conditions.  But according to a new Nielsen study, the healthy growth of the video game industry is bucking all the trends and setting out on it’s own path.

The recently published ‘State of the Video Gamer’ report looked at gaming on consoles, PC, and mobile gaming happening in the United States during Q4 of 2008.  The Nielsen study found that gaming, traditionally a realm reserved for younger males, have grown in popularity with females, older players, and diversified groups.  The report also revealed that this new consumers’ play time is cutting into prime time television consumption.

“Gaming, once the domain of kids and a small group of core fans, is now more mainstream than ever.  As the number of platforms continues to expand, we would expect that more people will be drawn to the entertainment video games can offer.  Along with this, the evolution of gaming consoles into multimedia devices has changed consumption habits of traditional media such as TV, movie and Internet content,” said Bradley Raczka, Marketing Manager for Nielsen Games.

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Key findings from the study include:

  • The PlayStation 2, while still leading all other consoles in total minutes of usage, continues to have the highest downward trending rate of usage.  Trending data suggests by the end of 2009, the PlayStation 2 will no longer be the most used console in the United States.
  • Females 25 years and older make up the largest block of PC game players, accounting for 46.2 percent of all players and 54.6 percent of all game play minutes in December 2008.
  • More sophisticated consoles such as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 attract the more engaged console users, who are less likely to be watching television in Prime Time than users of other consoles.

The Nielsen data was mined from a sample of more the 17,000 US television households and 185,000 US tracked PC’s.

While the Nielsen study is certainly not all encompassing, it does deliver a hefty blow to an already ailing television industry.  With the rise of console complexity and interactivity, this study clearly indicates more and more households are tuning off the tube, and turning on the titles.

So what does this all mean?

The Nielsen study only confirms and strengthens a similar study currently being conducted by NeoEdge and Frank Magid Associates – that in-game advertising is more effective than television advertising.  Depending on which sources you look at, spending on in-game advertising is expected to balloon to somewhere between $732 million to $1.8 billion by 2010.  Which then raises the question – why is IGA Worldwide in trouble and looking for more money, or a buyer?  With more and more info hitting the streets regarding the potential of in-game advertising, I’d expect in-game advertising specialists like IGA Worldwide, Massive, and Double Fusion to be working at maximum capacity.

Download the Nielsen ‘State of the Video Gamer’ report here (PDF).

 

New survey finds outsourcing in game development on the rise

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Think Services Game Group’s Game Developer recently released findings from their most recent survey, asking approximately 200 developers their opinions and usage statistics on outsourcing game development.

thinkservicesThe 2009 Game Development Outsourcing Report found that between 2007 and 2008 outsourced development rose 10 percent, from 76 percent to 86 percent.  The Think Services Game Group conducted a blind survey, and approximately 200 professional game developers were polled anonymously, thereby ensuring a fair, yet comprehensive look at the industry segment.  Questions included studios’ usage of outsourcing, the associated budgets and plans to accompany this outsourcing, and regional factors, amongst a number of others.

This survey reveals key data on the rise and usage of outsourced development work, and how the practice is on track to grow even larger than current levels.  Of those surveyed that do not use outsourcing at one point or another during development work, half of them responded that they plan on doing so in the near future.  Likewise, of those surveyed that do currently use outsourcing, 95 percent of them plan on continuing to do so.

One factor contributing to the outsourcing movement, according to the survey is the increasing cost and bandwidth required to create a high volume of assets for modern console systems.  Respondents reported that the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 are the two platforms in which game development is most often outsourced.  To compliment these findings, the survey also found that overall outsourcing budgets are on the rise, nearly doubling.  The majority of companies planning to spend $2 million or more on outsourcing  rose almost 20 percent in 2008.

“It is the goal of Game Developer Research to provide the professional game community with an understanding of the industry landscape from multiple perspectives,” said Simon Carless, publisher of Game Developer Magazine and director of Game Developer Research. “With game outsourcing an increasingly important part of making large-scale video games, we hope this survey will give both contractors and game studios a good sense of how business practices are evolving.”

The 2009 Game Development Outsourcing Report is available for purchase from gamedevresearch.com and also discusses overall budgets, reasons for outsourcing, the selection process for choosing firms to outsource to, and the regions of the world that the respondents worked with.  The report also includes a directory of established outsourcing studios from across the globe that were mentioned by survey respondents, with a particular emphasis on those mentioned multiple times.