If you have been paying attention to gaming monthly NPD data reports, you would have noticed that Microsoft has posted six consecutive “winning months” in 2010. Helped by the new Kinect controller and it’s wide popularity, Microsoft seems to have a strong and healthy lead in the race for second place among consoles this generation. Or do they? A recent interview between Industry Gamers and John Riccitiello seems to poke holes in the theory that Microsoft has a secure lead, and that lead will be surmounted for good in the near future.
I think that Microsoft has done great work the last couple of years, and they’ve made a lot of smart moves: hitting pricing when they needed to, the right combination of hitting price points and disk drive sizes that allow them to hit price points that matter, and they’ve done a great job with Xbox Live. At the same time, the Xbox brand, the Microsoft brand, doesn’t carry anywhere near as much sway as the Sony and PlayStation brand do outside the United States, and so I think the reality is the international marketplace is just so important and it’s a natural advantage that no matter how good Microsoft is at growing their business, Sony has an almost-impossible-to-supersede head start.”
Meaning that the one year head start that Microsoft had at the beginning of the generation was necessary only in relation to Sony’s immense worldwide popularity. Either way you cut it, world wide, The PlayStation brand is synonymous with video games. Analysts have been going on record to state that it’s only a matter of time before the PlayStation pushes Microsoft back into third place in this generation. The question is if the PlayStation 3 would still be relevant at that point, or if a new console would be on the way from Microsoft. With Kinect’s addition to the Xbox 360 brand, and it’s extension of the console lifespan this may work against Microsoft in the long run as far comparative sales analysis goes. If this was a normal historical market cycle, the average lifespan of a console would have long run its course, and this message would be an afterthought.
But with this console now pushing into its 6th year it has given the PlayStation 3 more than enough time to market their do-everything consoles to many of the end users that passed on the product due to it’s expensive Blu-ray technology. Prices coming down for both onboard HDD’s and manufacturing costs for Sony have allowed for them to begin dropping prices on the PS3 and it seems that the EA head and other gaming analysts can read the tea leaves when stating that the lead for Microsoft is certainly not insurmountable. With a console that is still considered to be in it’s prime, an online service that is hitting on all cylinders, and arguably the best batch of first party titles coming in 2011, I don’t think there has ever been a better time to get a PlayStation 3. At these prices they are a great gaming value, and a great entertainment value in general. But even if Americans don’t see it this way, the rest of the world sure will.