Next-gen console war wages on

By Siyabonga Africa, ITWeb junior journalist
Johannesburg, 22 Jul 2008

Local sales of next-generation consoles are increasing, says the GFK Marketing Services Group, with Microsoft's Xbox 360 leading the pack at 65 000 units sold so far.

GFK consultant Roger Carbonell says sales of Sony's PlayStation 3 (PS3), the Nintendo Wii and the Xbox 360 had gone up 22% year-to-date, despite the adverse economic climate and the introduction of the New Credit Act.

Carbonell says the Xbox 360 had sold more units because it had been in the market for longer, having been launched in SA in 2006.

The PS3 and Wii were only launched in March 2007 and October 2007, respectively. Even so, the PS3 managed to sell more than 40 000 units, with the Wii having the "fastest introduction of all the next-generation platforms, reaching approximately 45 000 sold units".

Carbonell adds that Microsoft has 43% of the market, with the Wii having 30% and PS3 trailing at 27% ownership of the market.

Xbox product manager John Press believes Xbox's large video game archive is one of the reasons the console is doing so well in SA. Some of the Xbox's most lucrative games, he adds, include Gears of War and Halo 3.

Despite the continuous growth in the console market, GFK adds that the Xbox 360 is experiencing the least growth out of the three contenders. The Xbox 360 is flat-lining in its growth rate because it came out before the PS3 and the Wii, it points out. Price erosion on the three consoles, in particular Xbox 360, also led to lower growth rates for value development.

Core Group spokesman Matthew Grose says the Wii is doing better than ever. "I'm out of stock," he says. The console that put Nintendo back in the console game has been growing exponentially every month because it went back to what Grose says is "basic family fun".

Games galore

During the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) Media and Business Summit, in Los Angeles, in the US, Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft revealed several games they believed would gain them the upper hand in the next-generation console war.

Among the expected titles are Gears of War 2, scheduled for a December release on the Xbox 360, and God of War 3, for the PS3.

Xbox's Press says the new interactive games Microsoft unveiled during E3 would revitalise Xbox 360 sales. "Games like Scene It! Box Office Smash! and Lips will bring in a wider audience for the Xbox 360 by tapping into a market that was not a hardcore gaming market."

Grose notes that E3 was focused entirely on the US market and says Core Group is waiting to see what will happen at the Games Convention, in August, that will dictate when the hyped games will come out in Europe and SA.

rAge Expo marketing manager Jacqui Jacobs could not say whether there would be any big announcements from the next-generation consoles during this year's expo, which takes place in October.

"There might be some news on the new Tomb Raider game and also Guitar Hero World Tour, but other than that I can not say."

Related stories:
Xbox could go Live in SA
PS3 to lead hardware growth
Gaming sales soar