First off I’d like to congratulate MS for well and truly forcing their foot into the door of the industry that we all love, gaming. They have created a brand that is recognisable and popular (in some parts of the world), as well as introduced a lot of interesting new IPs to gamers. During a questionable start with hardware reliability they still managed to grab a lot of sales and 3rd party support, although much of this was done with next to no competition, it’s still an achievement. Microsoft came out guns blazing in a wild rush that paid off in a lot of ways but, my question is, without the advantage of a head start and Sony’s various slip ups, will MS be able to keep the market share they’ve grabbed?
Looking at it from an optimistic standpoint I could point out the differences between last gen Xbox sales and 360 sales and easily assume that the two totals create an upward trend. However a good scientist knows that more evidence would be needed and there are many factors that could make 360’s success appear as nothing more than an anomaly. The price, for example, 360 has been cheaper than PS3 for the entirety of its lifespan, making it the more attractive choice for non-gaming parents everywhere. There is no indication of any pricing for next gen systems as of yet, which means that the advantage of price could disappear; especially when you consider the rumour that MS intend to force a new (probably more expensive) version of Kinect onto gamers. Judging from past consoles, it’s nearly always the cheaper option that sells best in the US and probably UK too, would this mean MS resort to ‘gimping’ specs in order to maintain a price advantage? It could very well be.
The second advantage in Microsoft’s favour came from the early release, although, as mentioned, this may have backfired slightly with RROD. They still had over a year to themselves on the market and it’s something that has given them bragging rights for almost this entire generation, which is odd considering PS3 has managed to sell just as many units in less time. In fact, if you look at it closely you can work out exactly how much faster PS3 sold:
Although official figures aren’t released just yet you can bet they will be pretty close so for this example I’m going to say both are neck and neck at 80m right now.
Xbox 360 has been on market for 8 years (ish)
PS3 for 7 (ish)
So Xbox has sold (on average) 80m divided by 8 years, which is obviously 10m per year.
PS3 has sold (on average) 80m divided by 7 years, which comes to 11.4m per year (rounded down), which is made slightly more impressive because of the higher price point. Obviously this is just rough approximates but it does go to show that PS3 has done well in spite of the disadvantages it has faced.
Anal analytics aside, the advantage of time is something that MS, most likely, no longer have, well, that is unless they release the 3rd Xbox in the next couple of months, which is ludicrous. Sony has stated a “holiday 2013” release for PS4 putting any chance of another long MS competition free timeframe to rest.
It’s the loss of these advantages that is making next generation so interesting for me; we may get to see clearly, without so much confusion and misdirection clouding the truth of things. What I’m trying to say is that it could turn out to be a fair race this time and it’s anybodies to win, these are exciting times.