Thursday, November 30, 2006
I have learned that there are more Wii channels on the way, other than the ones already announced. As it stands, there are nine in total if you count them all: Disc, Mii, Photo, Forecast, News, Shop, Virtual Console, the Internet Channel and the Message Board.
The new channels, presumably, is where the elusive secrets are to be found that Perrin Kaplan hinted at.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Wii has sold 600.000 units in the eight days since its North American launch on November 19th. The total volume of hardware, first party software and accessories is billed at 190 million US Dollars, Nintendo of America (registration required) announced. They quote their president Reggie Fils-Aime as saying:
Even with sales already in excess of 600,000 units, demand continues to exceed supply, as it's clear this is one of the ‘gotta-have' products for the holiday season. We've shipped retailers several times the amount of hardware the other company was able to deliver for its launch around the same time - and we still sold out. Given the inclusive nature of Wii game play, we're seeing this new form of video gaming is already a huge hit with gamers and newcomers alike. It continues to be a phenomenal launch.
´Zelda: Twilight Princess sold more than 454.000 copies, meaning that a phenomenal 75 percent of all Wii buyers also purchased this game.
EDIT Meanwhile, the Taiwanese DigiTimes reports about a number defects with PS3 units. The cited problems are quite vague, though, and most are already known:
Problems related to overheating and inability to start the machine were reported since the PS3 launched in mid-November. Reports have circulated recently in the US retail market saying that when used with older high-definition (HD) TVs that support only a 1080i resolution, the PS3 displays 720p resolution games at only 480p. Sources at Sony said this problem could be caused by a firmware problem and that the company will resolve the problem as soon as possible.
In Taiwan, some users were complaining that the new game console is not compatible with some PS2 game titles and that the machine would shut down when it overheated, said the sources. After consulting with Taiwan's Consumer Protection Commission and distributors, the Taipei branch of Sony Computer Entertainment Hong Kong (SCEH) agreed to replace consoles found to have serious defects.
Source: Nintendo press server (registration required)
Thanks to: Joystiq, Game Daily
Sunday, November 26, 2006
The online auction house eBay has sold almost 15.000 PS3 consoles and a little over 26.000 Wii units so far, Reuters reports via Yahoo:
Popular items on eBay included Sony's PlayStation 3 -- 14,675 have been sold on eBay for an average price of $1,186.39 from November 17 to November 24 -- and the Nintendo Wii. Since that product debuted on November 19, 26,708 have been sold for an average price of $412.53.
Albeit limited to resellers on this particular platform, these are the first official sales figures released concerning the two contenders in the next-generation console war.
Of course, there were many more Wii consoles available than PS3s. But it should still come as something of a surprise that more Wiis were sold on eBay, since most PS3 buyers so far seemed to have been resellers while people in the Wii queues appeared to want the console for themselves.
Also, consider that the PS3 figures show sales over eight days, while the Wii figures only include six days of sales.
EDIT Just for reference (and also to brag just a tiny little bit), this story has now been covered by GoNintendo and Codename Revolution. Thanks to Kevin and Fahid for linking me.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
It seems that more and more mass media are favouring the Wii over the PS3, the Washington Post being the most recent example. I have compiled some of the more snappy quotes below.
This comes after Gamasutra found that the majority of developers were personally more excited about the new Nintendo console.
In the Wii-PS3 Playoff, Nintendo Upsets Sony on the Fun Factor
Most of my friends who picked up the PS3's controller ended up frustrated. The typical game for the system requires players to have memorized where all the buttons are, and it's much harder to just pick up a controller and have a good time. Some of the verdicts they offered are unprintable. (...)
While the people in my group preferred looking at the PS3's games, they preferred playing the Wii. (...) I have never seen a bunch of non-gamers get into this stuff like this, and I have never heard anybody laugh so much while playing any video game. A few of them now say they plan to buy the system for themselves. (...)
Nintendo got one feature right with the system on Day One: It's just darn fun.
Sony's Playstation 3 is Not Worth the Hype
People who have been camping out for days finally get their PS3s today. Sadly, both their time and money has been wasted. (...) I wouldn't recommend buying one, not even for the regular price, which is plenty expensive without the import markup. (...)
Sony's launch line-up just isn't that interesting. Almost all the PS3's outstanding games — F.E.A.R., Madden NFL '07, Need for Speed: Carbon, Call of Duty 3 — are available on the Xbox 360, and most (all except F.E.A.R.) are out for the Wii, too. There just isn't the leverage there to make buying a PS3 de rigeur. (...)
Give it time. The price will (probably) come down. Sony's online strategy will (probably) mature. More decent games will come out — the Playstation3 is notoriously difficult to develop for, and game-makers are still figuring out how to get the most out of it. Next holiday season, it just might be worth it. For now it's pretty much moot anyway.
A Weekend Full of Quality Time With PlayStation 3
Howard Stringer, you have a problem. Your company’s new video game system just isn’t that great. (...) Sony blithely insisted that the PS3 would leapfrog all competition to deliver an unsurpassed level of fun.
Put bluntly, Sony has failed to deliver on that promise.
Measured in megaflops, gigabytes and other technical benchmarks, the PlayStation 3 is certainly the world’s most powerful game console. It falls far short, however, of providing the world’s most engaging overall entertainment experience. (...)
“What’s weird is that the PS3 was originally supposed to come out in the spring, and here it came out in the fall, and it still doesn’t feel finished,” Christopher Grant, managing editor of Joystiq, one of the world’s biggest video-game blogs, said on the telephone Saturday night. “It’s really not the all-star showing they should have had at launch. Sony is playing catch-up in a lot of ways now, not just in terms of sales but in terms of the basic functionality and usability of the system.” (...)
If you can’t find one, don’t fret. Sony still has a lot of work to do. As Mr. Grant of Joystiq put it: “Maybe in six months it’ll be finished. Maybe by next fall I’ll be able to do all the cool stuff. I’m still kind of waiting.”
New York Times
PlayStation 3 can't hide its flaws
Cut through the hype, and the desire for the newest, flashiest gadget and the product is not as compelling as it might seem. The PS3, for all its power, feels incomplete at launch. (...)
Controlling games is pretty close to what PlayStation veterans are used to. The major shift this time is Sony has included a motion sensor in its controller (which has been redubbed the Sixaxis). In "NBA 07," for instance, twisting the controller will let you juke around an opposing player.
The problem is that the motion doesn't feel natural here, as it does with the Nintendo Wii. (...) You get the impression they were caught off guard when the feature was announced -- and rushed to find some way to include it.
Gone also is the rumble effect from the controller -- an omission that has upset many Sony loyalists. Personally, I miss the shaking. The feeling of a slight rumble in your hands as you fired a virtual weapon added to the fun. (...)
If you're somehow able to find a PlayStation 3 on a store shelf this year, is it worth buying one? Sadly, the answer is not yet. The system is too expensive for what most people will get out of it -- and the initial slate of games don't offer enough innovation or thrills to justify the purchase.
Playtesters say 'Wii' to console war question
After plowing through several hours of gaming and many boxes of pizza, the resounding favorite of our playtest was ...drumroll please...the Wii. (...)
“I’m definitely more excited about picking up a Wii,” said Eisner, a serious gamer. He liked the fact that he could not only play the Wii with his daughter but that, as our play test proved, the Wii quickly turned game time into party time.
With the PS3 and the Wii each hooked up in neighboring rooms, we found the PS3 sitting all alone at several points during the evening (hooked up to a giant high definition TV no less) while all the gamers gathered around the Wii and played together. (...)
The Wii just can’t compete with the visual splendor that pours forth from the PS3. In fact, games played on the Wii look like they're being played on nothing more than a slightly souped-up GameCube.
Most of our guest players didn’t seem to mind so much. Still though, for us game reviewers it was something of a disappointment. The PS3 and the Xbox 360 set the standard high, and once you get used to living in that kind of luxurious visual world, it’s hard to go back.
WII GOT GAME IN CONSOLE FACEOFF
While scuffles are breaking out over the PS3, our testing of both machines found that the Wii was more entertaining - at less than half the price. With its innovative Nunchuk controller, you'll be waving around your arms to battle enemies or swing a baseball bat. (...)
Though the graphics are stunning, the PS3 isn't that much different from the PS2. And compatibility issues mean it won't play as many old PlayStation games as were originally promised. The $500 version, meanwhile, isn't worth it. You have to pay $600 to get the complete package - a huge expense for a video game player, even if it does play DVDs as well. (...)
The Wii offers up a truly unique take on playing video games by getting people off their couches to play, introducing a new skill set (coordination is a must) and inducing much smack talk (like when you whiff every time you swing in Wii Baseball). Plus, Nintendo intends to ship 4 million units worldwide, so chances are you'll be able to get your hands on one soon - and for half the price.
New York Post
Release of PlayStation 3 Becomes a Waiting Game
Kaz Hirai, the chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment America, said that the company wanted "to elicit an emotional response from you, good, bad or indifferent." He said that creating such an emotional bond was the first step in making a sale, but that Sony also wanted to convey that the system is a good deal.
"It's not too expensive," Mr. Hirai said. "We're offering fantastic value to consumers." Future marketing efforts will emphasize Sony's position that the PlayStation 3 is built with high-end components that will still work in 5 or even 10 years. "Look at how long you'll be able to enjoy your investment," Mr. Hirai said.
Jim Louderback, editor in chief of PC Magazine, who recently reviewed both the PlayStation 3 and the Wii, said that idea did not sound realistic. "Considering there's a new generation of video game consoles every five years, that doesn't make a lot of sense to me," Mr. Louderback said.
International Herald Tribune / New York Times
Clad in a stylish tuxedo-chic shell and accessorized with cutting-edge electronic gadgetry, the PS3 is all dressed up...with no place to go. Many gamers, especially those who don't own an HDTV, are paying $600 (or more, if they give into the eBay vultures) for features that they (for now) can't fully appreciate. It's going to take a while before game programmers figure out how to harness the PS3's power and deliver some truly next-gen gaming experiences. Its online network is also a work in progress that has a long way to go before challenging the Xbox Live service. While it's human nature to want something that someone else wants, it's a smart move to resist temptation and sit on the sidelines until there are more compelling and practical reasons to commit to the PS3. B (...)
Not quite a next-generation console, the Wii must rely on its unique game interface — and a steady stream of titles that make full use of the Wii-mote and the companion Nunchuck. Is the Wii-mote a novelty that will soon wear thin? Beyond the healthy legions of Nintendo loyalists, the Wii's low price, strong lineup of nonviolent titles, and gentle learning curve might actually attract the kind of players (women, parents) normally put off by testosterone-fueled games that reward mastery of a dozen or more buttons. B+
Review: PS3, Wii Boost Gaming Experience
The Wii was the most fun and the easiest to use. It can deliver on Nintendo's promise to bring more non-gamers into the fold. (...) It's not that I wasn't impressed by the PS3 games, but after breaking into a sweat from a few hours with the Wii, sitting on my couch to shoot aliens in "Resistance: Fall of Man" felt pedestrian. (...)
Declaring one of these systems an overall winner is impossible, mostly because of the oddball Wii. It's just so different from its rivals, it's almost unfair to compare it to the PS3 or the Xbox 360.
But the Wii's unique controller and approachable $250 price could make it the surprise hit of the three.
The Wii: One Small Step for Nintendo, One Giant Leap for Gaming
Nintendo's Wii home video-gaming console (...) will put to rest any fears that it won't be able to compete with Sony's super-powered PlayStation 3 and Microsoft's already established Xbox 360. (...)
Despite its technical shortcomings, the Wii is a whole lot of fun to play. And the suggested retail price of about $250 makes it an attractive competitor to the $399 Xbox 360 and, especially, the PS3, the "full" model of which costs a whopping $599.
With that kind of price point, hardcore gamers might even consider picking up a Wii alongside a PS3 or Xbox 360. The Wii will simply play games — and come up with new ways of playing them — in a way that none of its competitors will be able to match.
In fact, after playing with a Wii for a while, PlayStation and Xbox can start to look like an exercise in nihilistic thumb gymnastics.
A Wii Workout: When Videogames Hurt
The new console has been wildly successful, selling out at stores and winning high marks from critics and game buffs. But as players spend more time with the Wii, some are noticing that hours waving the game's controller around can add up to fairly intense exertion -- resulting in aches and pains common in more familiar forms of exercise. They're reporting aching backs, sore shoulders -- even something some have dubbed "Wii elbow."
"It's harder than playing basketball," says Kaitlin Franke, a 12-year-old from Louisville, Ky. She has been camped out in front of her family's TV, fine-tuning her bowling motion and practicing boxing footwork in two of the Wii's games. Almost immediately, she says, her right arm started to feel numb.(...)
Another hazard: collisions. All those flailing arms can sometimes inadvertently smack into lamps, furniture and even competing players. IGN.com, a popular site that reviews videogames, said one player testing the Wii lost her grip and sent the controller flying into a wall. Blaine Stuart of Rochester, N.Y., mistakenly whacked his fiancée, Shelly Haefele, while playing tennis and also accidentally hit his dog while bowling.
Nintendo itself warns players about this risk just before some of the games begin. A message flashes up on the screen saying: "Make sure there are no people or objects around you that you might bump into while playing." Some Wii games also have pop-up reminders every 15 minutes advising gamers to take a break.
Wall Street Journal
EDIT 1UP has compiled a similar overview of mass media commenting on the Wii and on the PS3, respectively.
Thanks to: Zeldaphr3ak, GoNintendo
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
My good friend Product_Number_18 has come across an interesting Nintendo quote that might hint at a previously unannounced Wii feature.
Nintendo president Reginald Fils-Aime has, perhaps unwittingly, mentioned a microphone that will be utilized more in future software. Reggie said this towards the end of a recent interview with the Forbes Video Network:
There are things that I think we are just now scratching the surface of, in terms of what the system can do. One piece is the microphone and how the microphone enhances the gameplay.
Was this just a mistake? Or did Reggie unwittingly reveal a previously unannounced Wii feature? I have always believed that there was a microphone built into the Wiimote. What do you think?
Source: Forbes Video Network
Thanks to: Product_Number_18
Apparently, Sony Computer Entertainment - and Ken Kutaragi in person - is to blame for losing exclusivity of both ´GTA IV´ and ´Assassin´s Creed´, respected industry journalist N'Gai Croal reports.
The next installment of Ubisoft's Splinter Cell. Downloadable content for Grand Theft Auto IV. All locked up by Microsoft corporate vice president Peter Moore, his indefatigable team, and Uncle Bill's bottomless wallet.
Moore's job, however, was made easier by the fact that for the greater part of this year, PlayStation chief Ken Kutaragi hadn't finalized the business terms for independent publishers on the PS3. And without that, he was reluctant to greenlight any expenditures on Western third-party exclusives. In previous generations, Kutaragi's slowness hadn't been much of a problem because the first two PlayStations launched in Japan 8-12 months ahead of North America, leaving plenty of time to nail things down with Western publishers. But with the PS3 launching in North America just a week after Japan--and a year after a fiercely competitive Microsoft--Kutaragi's tardiness became a major issue. (...)
While Kutaragi dragged his feet, Microsoft's top brass called these third-parties almost daily, asking each of them, "What would it take for you to publish these games on 360?" Finally, the executives could wait no longer, and both Take-Two/Rockstar and Ubisoft cut deals to make their games available on Xbox 360 as well as PS3.
I seriously cannot believe how Sony appears to be doing everything wrong with the PS3. These two third-parties were willing to give their console exclusivity and Sony failed in merely finalizing those deals. Sony execs appear to be deliberately seeking to damage the console, the brand and the company. Ken Kutaragi needs to resign.
Thanks to: , PSX Extreme
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Here is the fantastic six-part Zelda retrospective, courtesy of Game Trailers and posted by Joystiq. It is brilliantly produced and well worth every second of it, both for Zelda beginners as well as experts.
Source: Game Trailers
Thanks to: Joystiq
Monday, November 20, 2006
Nintendo may have sold in excess of a million Wii consoles on launch day, Next-Gen estimates:
Nintendo Wii got off to a flyer yesterday with major retailers reporting sell-outs. Although Nintendo has not released official figures, day one sell-through should be at well over a million.
This would significantly up the current figure noted by NexGen Wars, which at the time of writing stands at just below 700.000. Their most recent figure is here:
You may ask yourself how that site comes up with those figures. I asked the owner about how he gathers the figures and this is what he mailed back:
There is no special secret to getting these. It basically just takes time and research to estimate the numbers as closely as possible.
What I have done is gotten charts of monthly sales for the past few years, and figured out certain trends. Then I have gotten past sales data and estimated the pace at which the consoles will sell. After I have the estimate and the counter running, I just watch out for anny official announcements, and adjust anything accordingly.
The site has been up since early July, and I haven't had to adjust the sales for the Xbox 360 since then. So far my estimation method has been pretty much right on. Now for the new consoles it is a little harder since there is no previous sales data to go off of. What I do for these is research how many they are expecting to have on launch and by the end of the year. For the launch counter I get it to around the number expected, and then I slow it down to pace it so that it will reach a good estimate for the end of the year, and as usual I will adjust anything if any official word comes in.
No, the numbers aren't perfect, but so far it seems to have been a very good estimate.
I myself am confident that NexGen Wars is as reliable a source as it gets, in the absence of official figures. In this case, I do believe the Next-Gen estimate, though, and would not be surprised if NexGen adjusted their numbers accordingly.
Nintendo refused to comment on this story. In fact, the company has not released any shipment and sales figures concerning the US launch - and they told me that they do not know when that data will be made available.
EDIT The owner of NexGen Wars has responded to my request for details on Wii and PS3 numbers. here is his response:
The Wii and PS3 numbers are a little bit more rough than the 360, but what I have looked at for those is trends in launches. I have then taken these trends and compiled the data with how many supposedly shipped and made it to stores. Assuming these shipment numbers are right, then the fact that everything sold out around launch means the Wii and PS3 numbers should be a pretty good estimate, but when any official word is released I will be able to adjust and more accurately estimate the numbers from then on.
Sources: Next-Gen, NexGen Wars
Thanks to: Joystiq
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Stop the clocks and rewrite the history books... Nintendo Wii has launched. With it, a new era of gaming will be ushered in. An era of gaming that prioritizes fun and friends over pixels and polygons. One where videogaming once more becomes an inclusive experience for families and people of all ages, rather than create a distinct subculture that divides societies, bitter people on each side.
At least, that is the idea.
Prior to launch, almost every sign has been a positive one for Nintendo. The current leader in the home console market, Sony, has suffered some very unfortunate setbacks. Never before was dominance in this market so much within Nintendo´s grasp, since losing it more than ten years ago.
Now, the company must deliver, though.
Where just a day ago words were the only weapon of choice, the company now must carry on fighting with nothing but production and shipment numbers, sell-through data and software tie-ratios.
Where the presidents and marketing people were sitting until yesterday, the production line managers, technicians and factory workers take the helm.
And where Nintendo has claimed the direction to be, which they wanted to move in, people need to populate the roads leading there and tread on what up until now were untrodden paths.
There undoubtedly is a blue ocean out there. Now all it takes for Nintendo is to have plenty of fish in that sea.
EDIT You can follow the numbers game over at NexGen Wars. This is what things look like at this very moment:
EDIT And here is the first footage of the Wii launch, courtesy of CNN. The footage is from New York City.
EDIT It has happened: According to NexGen Wars, Nintendo Wii is now the second console, leaving Sony in third place (pun intended).
There was a guy in a Wiimote costume walking around the PS3 lines this week. Have a look:
This is not something I would normally post, but it is quite entertaining ("You know what? Wii has rumble in the controller." - "[sad pause] Yeah.") and also allows for some degree of speculation. Is this just a fanboy with too much time on his hands or is this some kind of viral marketing? What do you think?
Thanks to: Xtremeboarder
Friday, November 17, 2006
Here is a comprehensive news round-up, most big news relating to the PlayStation3. There are some Wii tidbits, too.
1.) PS3 is a waste of TIME
TIME magazine has called the PlayStation3 a waste of time and money, only days after calling ´Wii: Sports´ potentially ´the greatest videogame ever´.
I wouldn't recommend buying one, not even for the regular price, which is plenty expensive without the import markup. (...) Look at what you get. The Playstation 3 is expensive: $500 or $600 bucks, depending on which version you buy, plus $60 for each game. (An Xbox 360 only costs $400 max, and Nintendo's Wii — yep, that name, still funny — is only $250.)
For that kind of scratch you want the deluxe treatment, and the PS3 simply doesn't deliver it. It's got some good-looking games, but unless you have a top-notch TV, the difference isn't mind-blowing. (And even if you do have a fancy TV, Sony makes you supply your own HDMI cable. Stingy.)
And Sony's launch line-up just isn't that interesting. Almost all the PS3's outstanding games — F.E.A.R., Madden NFL '07, Need for Speed: Carbon, Call of Duty 3 — are available on the Xbox 360, and most (all except F.E.A.R.) are out for the Wii, too. There just isn't the leverage there to make buying a PS3 de rigeur.
The article goes on to say that the console will be worth buying once the price comes down. This is pretty much what CNN´s Chris Morris has been saying, albeit less derogatory, calling the system ´incomplete´:
Is it worth buying one? Sadly, the answer is not yet. The system is too expensive for what most people will get out of it -- and the initial slate of games don't offer enough innovation or thrills to justify the purchase.
Wait until prices drop $100 or even $200 -- and until there are a few more good games available - before you consider making the plunge.
Finally, the New York Post also recommends buying the Wii instead of the PS3.
Sources: TIME magazine, CNN Money, GoNintendo
Thanks to: Ogryder, Joystiq
2.) Sony is losing $240 to $300 with each PS3
Sony is losing $300 and $240 with each 20 GB and 60 GB model sold, respectively. Market intelligence firm iSuppli has added up all the components and done the maths. At the same time, Microsoft are already making a profit with their Xbox360, as the following chart illustrates.
While market analysts are likely to call the financial risks involved suicidal, iSuppli celebrates this as good value for the consumer, calling the console an ´engineering masterpiece that sets a new high mark for computing price/performance´.
The company´s teardown services manager and senior analyst Andrew Rassweiler has only praise for the hardware:
With the PlayStation 3, you are getting the performance of a supercomputer at the price of an entry-level PC. (...) The reason why the PlayStation 3 is so costly to produce is because it has incredible processing power. If someone had shown me the PlayStation 3 motherboard from afar without telling me what it was, I would have assumed it was for a network switch or an enterprise server. (...)
To give an example of how cutting-edge the design is, in the entire history of the iSuppli Teardown Analysis team, we have seen only three semiconductors with 1,200 or more pins. The PlayStation 3 has three such semiconductors all by itself. There is nothing cheap about the PlayStation 3 design. This is not an adapted PC design. Even beyond the major chips in the PlayStation 3, the other components seem to also be expensive and somewhat exotic.
Thanks to: DigiTimes
3.) PS3 backward compatibility issues
The PlayStation3 appears to have problems playing a number of PS1 and PS2 titles, including ´Tekken 5´, ´Gran Turismo 4´ and ´Devil May Cry´.
While some news sites have made quite a big deal of this, most experts believe that a simple firmware upgrade will solve this problem. Microsoft is dealing with this issue in a similar fashion, as far as Xbox360 backward compatibility is concerned.
4.) Wii channels not ready at launch
Some Wii channels will not be ready from day one, Joystiq has learned, citing a Nintendo press release. Like online gaming, some channels will not be ready until early 2007:
The release reveals the forecast channel will debut on Dec. 20, while the news channel (with content from the Associated Press) will debut Jan. 27 of next year. The release also suggested that the Wii's Opera browser would not be available for download immediately, saying "more information about the availability of the browser will be released in the coming weeks."
5.) Red Steel uses PhysX Engine
There was some confusion about the ´PhysX´ logo appearing on Wii games, which fueled speculation that Wii might include a dedicated physics chip (PPU).
A simple call to ´PhysX´ manufacturer Ageia put those rumours to rest. PR rep Marti Miernik told me that a number of videogames are using the ´PhysX´ software solution, ´Red Steel´ and ´Gods of War´ being two examples. This does not mean that the consoles these games run on contain the company´s hardware solution, which is a separate PPU. In fact, neither PlayStation2 nor Wii does.
Source: Codename Revolution
6.) Wii SD card revealed
SD card manufacturer SanDisk has announced special Wii branded SD cards:
The press release reads:
The white cards, bearing the label “SanDisk For Wii”, will be available in three capacities – 512 megabytes (MB), 1 gigabyte (GB) and 2GB* -- at gaming and major consumer electronics stores. Suggested retail prices range from $34.99 to $89.99.
“We believe that the Nintendo Wii, with its physically interactive format and compelling games, will be a big hit this holiday season, and these co-branded flash cards will make it easy for gamers to purchase memory that allows for the portability of game saves between Wii consoles,” said Christina Day, SanDisk senior product marketing manager.
7.) Miyamoto confirms $99 rumour
Saving the best for last, Shigeru Miyamoto has confirmed my exclusive story I ran in October 2005 that Nintendo had plans of releasing the Wii for a price tag of $99. Alongside this rumour, I also broke the news that the console would be significantly underpowered when compared to its competitors.
While the latter quickly turned out to be true, the validity of the $99 rumour remained uncertain until now. Miyamoto now told Business Week:
Originally, I wanted a machine that would cost $100. My idea was to spend nothing on the console technology so all the money could be spent on improving the interface and software. If we hadn't used NAND flash memory [to store data such as games and photos] and other pricey parts, we might have succeeded.
So while Nintendo chose a different route, my sources proved reliable on both fronts.
Source: Business Week
Thursday, November 16, 2006
If you have ever wondered what SCE´s main strength is, this editorial should clear things up for you. It is their previously flawless marketing and PR effort, which managed to build up the brand name that is PlayStation.
In Germany, for example, SCE have managed to get the brand name into the Duden, the prescriptive dictionary for the German language, officially recognizing ´PlayStation´ as synonymous with console gaming (much like ´Hoover´ is used as a generic term for all vacuum cleaners in American English).
Although ´Gameboy´ is also recognized, ´PlayStation´ is the only home console in the dictionary and you will search for brand names like ´Nintendo´ and ´Xbox´ in vain.
And below is a prime example of the fruits of Sony´s labour. Here is a recent report by local television station NBC6 about people queueing up for the PlayStation3.
NBC6´s Sharon Lawson describes the scenes in front of the retail outlets like this:
Die-hard videogamers waiting to shell out $600 for the ultimate in next-generation consoles.
All it needed was a phrase like ´what they believe to be´ - and everything would have been fine from my point of view. But this particular brand name is so strong that even experienced reporters will assume that it is the ultimate, whoever else may be competing.
If you want, drop NBC6 a line and tell them how you feel. When leaving comments, you should tick at least the ´newsroom´ box.
But more importantly, this goes to show that Sony still has a big ace up their sleeve. And it is the strength of their brand. We all know the severe problems they have had and are still having. So do publishers. But if you ask ordinary people on the street about home consoles, most will think of ´PlayStation´ before they think of anything else. And this advantage should not be underestimated.
EDIT Here is another great example of mindless reporting, this time courtesy of CBS:
The reporter even congratulates Kaz Hirai on a very successful launch. In the meantime, I have been speaking to the analyst who confirmed that Sony launched with less than 200.000 consoles for the US market and he confirmed that position to me, further noting that the figure was leaning perhaps more towards 150.000.
Again, allow me to clarify my position: no console deserves this kind of uncritical, mindless reporting.
Thanks to: Godashram
Nintendo will provide four to five times as many consoles for the Japanese launch than Sony was able to, the BBC has learned.
The Japanese video game maker said it will ship almost 400,000 units of its Wii console, compared to 100,000 for Sony's PlayStation 3.
However Nintendo has not said how many consoles it will make available in the US where the Wii debuts on 19 November.
Undoubtedly, that Japanese launch shipment will sell through instantaneously. And given that Nintendo will also be able to put more consoles on US shelves this week, which is highly likely, while launching in Europe at least three months before Sony, it is obvious now - if it had not been obvious before - that the Wii will sell a multitude of the PS3´s sales figures.
Learning the actual size of Nintendo´s launch shipment for the US will be the real indicator as to whether they can deliver production-wise, though. The target of four million consoles worlwide by the end of the year is an ambitious one.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Sony will not be able to supply more than 200.000 units for the PlayStation3´s US launch, estimates Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian. Sebastian, quoted in a Next-Gen article, estimates that the shipment could be as low as 150.000 units. He cites retail checks as a source for his analysis. The article goes on:
Sony has said that it plans to ship 400,000 units to North America for the PS3’s launch day, with between 1-1.2 million shipping by the end of calendar 2006. Recently, however, mega-publisher Electronic Arts estimated 2006 PS3 North American shipments to be a substantially lower 500K-800K.
Sebastian estimated that Sony would sell around 750K PS3s domestically by year-end. (...) Sebastian added that he expects the Wii to sell 1.2 million units in the U.S. by year-end.
This estimate appears quite credible in the light of recent comments by SCEA co-chairman Jack Tretton that the 400.000 unit figure for the North American launch shipment was more of a target.
If true, this could be detrimental to Sony and the PlayStation3. My guess was that Sony had favoured the US launch, when splitting the worlwide launch shipment between the two regions. Now, it seems, the production problems may be even more severe than expected. The US launch shipment may have been split in half (bearing in mind that the 400.000 included the launch shipment for Canada).
Seriously - all fanboy allegiance aside for the moment - wouldn´t you start to worry if you had your money riding on that horse? If I was a publisher that had committed an exclusive title to the console, I would start to consider alternative options.
EDIT And KOEI has. The publisher has decided to take ´Fatal Inertia´ and ´Blade Storm´ also to the Xbox360, according to Joystiq.
As far as the numbers game is concerned, some analysts estimate the PS3 launch shipment to have been as small as 125.000 consoles.
Thanks to: Joystiq
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
YouTube user Nekoaitsu has been kind enough to upload the Wii preview disc that is being distributed at retail chains such as ´Toys ´R Us´. Here is the lot:
Virtual Console, Classic Games & Wii Points
New ´Zelda: Twilight Princess´ Trailer
Since the PlayStation3´s launch in Japan last Saturday, more consoles have been sold than games. Put differently, not every PS3 owner also bought a game to go with it. Famitsu publisher Enterbrain has done the maths, as Eurogamer reports:
The tie-in ratio of software to PlayStation 3 sales is 0.98 - less than one game per console.
The figure suggests that a portion of the 88.400 units sold were bought with the intention of selling [them] on as part of the 'grey market', the unofficial channel for second hand machines.
Analysts expect that two PS3 games will have been sold per system by the end of the year, Next-Gen reported a month ago, which is not an ideal figure either. The same analysts expect the Wii to have have a tie-ratio of 3 by year-end. Bear in mind that the main source of revenue for console manufacturers lies in software, accessories and license fees - not hardware.
Of course, tie-ratios are always low at the launch of a console. They are traditionally higher in Japan than anywhere else, but with such an expensive machine, buyers understandably go easy on games for the time being.
The original Xbox launched with only 1,45 games sold per console, according to GameSpot. The Xbox360 had accumulated a magnificent tie ratio of 3,9 by the end of 2005, according to Games Industry, but that result was in part due to the hardware shortage driving some retailers to prioritize customers who were willing to buy more games with the console.
Let us compare these figures with the tie-in ratios of consoles which are halfway through their lifespan. According to IGN, for the most part of 2003 those numbers looked like this:
The PS2´s tie-ratio has gone up to a staggering 11 last year, according to The Economist. So we see that the figures are naturally lower at launch.
But, of course, launching with a good tie-ratio is important to convince analysts and third-party publishers that the tie-ratio has potential. Because the tie-ratio is one of two indicators, alongside the installed hardware base, that money can be made on your platform.
Let us bear in mind, though, that the current numbers are so devastating largely because a whole number of people are planning to sell their PS3 on at a profit, because the demand for it is so high. Yet this raises another important point.
Why did Sony decide to lower the price of the 20GB model while re-including the HDMI port at a great production cost (and additional loss in share value)? They were sure to sell that measly launch shipment anyway.
And now the grey market prices show that customers are prepared to pay substantially more than even the original price. Those sellers are making a fortune and the extra profit they are making could have gone to Sony instead, if only they had stuck with their original prices.
Lowering the price in Japan was the economics of the madhouse. It is as simple as that.
Sources: Eurogamer, Next-Gen
Thanks to: Joystiq, PlayStation Team
The Wii pack-in title ´Wii: Sports´ has earned massive praise from TIME magazine, its editor Wilson Rothman noting ´that it might be the greatest videogame ever made.´ His article goes on:
Early clumsiness fast became aggressive, aerobic, precise gesticulation. You develop a forehand, a backhand, even an overhead smash, just like on the real courts, and you work up a sweat doing it. Each time the virtual racquet hits the ball, it delivers an unbelievably satisfying "thok."
Looking on, my wife couldn't remember the last time she saw something as silly as two dudes jumping around, waving their arms and strutting like Agassi at a Grand Slam. But since the controls were so simple, she wasn't allowed to refuse when we told her it was her turn. (...)
By the end of the weekend, the little machine had hooked ten people of very different temperaments and interests. Only one among us, Chris, was a bonafide gaming guy, and his years of button mashing didn't give him an unnatural advantage over anyone else. Excited as I was about my own attraction to the Wii, I was stunned by its universal appeal.
Us gamers might be tempted to discount this statement. After all, ´Wii: Sports´ really is just a series of tech demos with some simple, yet effective packaging. But casual or non-gamers do find titles like ´Zelda: Twilight Princess´ simply too complicated. In fact, the author remarks about that game that it "looked okay but didn't hook me."
I believe we should note this comment as showing the console´s impact on casual and non-gamers. Nintendo´s strategy seems to be working.
Source: TIME magazine
Thanks to: Joystiq
Monday, November 13, 2006
CNN ran the following item on the Japanese PlayStation3 launch.
Please note: This is a clean-feed version (i.e. without supers). Interviewees are Paul Constantine (the customer) and Hirokazu Hamamura from Famitsu publisher Enterbrain. Atika Shubert reports.
Here are some interesting quotes from the above package:
IT'S COLD, RAINY AND VERY EARLY IN THE MORNING. BUT THAT HASN'T STOPPED MORE THAN A THOUSAND GAMERS FROM COMING OUT TO BUY THIS: THE PLAYSTATION 3. THIS SCENE IS BEING REPEATED AT ELECTRONIC STORES THROUGHOUT THE CITY. BUT WILL THIS BE ENOUGH TO PICK SONY OUT OF ITS SLUMP?
AN EDGY AD CAMPAIGN HAS BEEN DRUMMING UP EXCITEMENT FOR WEEKS ... AFTER MONTHS OF DELAYS FOR THE PS 3 DUE TO TECHNICAL PROBLEMS AND PRICING CONCERNS. IT'S NOT CHEAP. SIX-HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR THE 60 GIGABYTE GAME CONSOLE. AROUND 90 BUCKS FOR EACH GAME. BUYERS CAN EASILY SPEND MORE THAN 1000 DOLLARS. SONY SAYS IT'S MORE THAN A GAME CONSOLE: IT'S AN ENTERTAINMENT CENTER. (...)
THE COMPETITION HAS A HEADSTART. MICROSOFT'S XBOX 360 HAS BEEN ON THE SHELVES FOR MORE THAN A YEAR AND COSTS SUBSTANTIALLY LESS. YET, IT STILL GETS REGULARLY OUTSOLD BY PLAYSTATION.
THE SURPRISE WINNER MAY BE NINTENDO'S WII - A REVOLUTIONARY GAME CONTROLLER THAT ALLOWS PLAYERS TO PHYSICALLY ACT OUT THEIR FANTASIES - WHETHER ITS TENNIS AT WIMBLEDON OR SWASHBUCKLING ACROSS AN IMAGINARY KINGDOM. AT LITTLE MORE THAN 200 DOLLARS IT'S A MUCH CHEAPER ALTERNATIVE - DUE FOR RELEASE IN JUST A FEW WEEKS.
CNN´s online coverage has also been outspokenly critical of the PS3:
Tatsuya Mizuno, analyst for Fitch Ratings in Tokyo, believes it will be hard for Sony to maintain the 70 percent market share domination it has built with previous PlayStation consoles, and Sony will likely lose some of that market to rivals, especially Nintendo. Sony has sold more than 200 million PlayStation series machines over the years.Source: CNN
Nintendo will back up the Wii with a marketing budget that exceeds 200 million US Dollars, Bloomberg has learned.
The advertising campaign is the biggest ever for Kyoto-based Nintendo, which begins selling Wii in the U.S. on Nov. 19., two days after Sony releases the PlayStation. Television ads beginning tomorrow will focus on Wii's ease of use and library of family- friendly games.
This is twice as much as Microsoft spent on the Xbox360, according to Next-Gen. It should be noted, however, that it is unclear whether either figure encompasses all territories and whether it is limited to the launch window (though that is when companies spend the lion share of their marketing budget, obviously).
EDIT Nintendo have outlined their marketing campaign in detail. Here is the info from their press server (registration required):
A different kind of video game system demands a different kind of marketing effort. That's why Nintendo is moving to unprecedented lengths to let people see, feel and experience the unparalleled new Wii™ system, created to be easily used by anyone. Nintendo's multimillion-dollar marketing campaign spotlights that Wii is the only new video game system every member of a household can enjoy.
Gaming for the masses is seen in every element of the marketing campaign, from an online social-networking community and sampling events in average people's homes to urban "gaming" hours, retail midnight madness events, a multi-city music tour and extended hands-on opportunities in malls nationwide. Across the country, men and women, young and old, experienced and not, are getting their hands on Wii and helping usher in a new generation of video gamers.
Already Nintendo's viral efforts have paid off. In a 24-hour period in early November, Wii served as the centerpiece of a multipart South Park episode, appeared on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, made People magazine's Style Watch gift guide issue, was featured in an NPR report about hot holiday gifts and had a BusinessWeek feature note: "industry execs and analysts are already calling a winner: Nintendo's Wii." And all of this before the system has even launched.
"Our plan to market Wii broadly with hands-on experiences continues to pay off," says George Harrison, Nintendo of America's senior vice president of marketing and corporate communications. "Wii introduces new ways to play to expand both the appeal of games and the audience of gamers, and our marketing campaign is central to that."
* Wii Ambassador Program: The yearlong initiative identified ambassadors in markets throughout the country. These ambassadors are of three categories: multigenerational families, hard-core gamers and modern moms. During the initial phase, Nintendo hosted events for each ambassador and 30 of his or her closest friends and relatives. The events offered an opportunity for everyday people from all walks of life to play Wii for the first time and share their experiences with others.
* Wii Mall Experience: Starting Nov. 15, Nintendo will set up six interactive Wii kiosks for a two-month period in 25 Westfield shopping centers across the country. Trained representatives will show visitors new ways to play. For a complete list of the participating malls, visit wii.nintendo.com.
* Nintendo Fusion Tour: The annual showcase for music and video games visits cities across the country through Nov. 11. In addition to live music from headliner Hawthorne Heights and four other up-and-coming bands, concert attendees get to enjoy some hands-on time with Wii.
* Blender: Nintendo Fusion Tour headliner Hawthorne Heights shows off their slick Wii moves and talk about some of the upcoming games for Wii in the December issue.
* Urban Gaming Hours: Through Nov. 17, Nintendo is hosting a gaming take on "happy hour" at gatherings for urban influencers in fashion, music and media, such as Vice magazine and Def Jam Records. The on-site events let participants experience Wii with their colleagues.
* RISE: The December issue of this sports and lifestyle magazine for teens will feature thoughts from top teen athletes about their experiences sampling the Wii console.
Feeding the Buzz
* How Wii Play: Wii's MySpace page at www.MySpace.com/howwiiplay has attracted nearly 1 million page views from more than 200,000 unique visitors, largely by word-of-mouth. Members have created their own Wii videos and posted thousands of messages in the robust forums.
* Midnight Madness: Countdown events at Toys "R" Us in New York's Times Square and at GameStop at Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles will turn the last few hours before the launch of Wii into an entertainment frenzy. Nintendo fans of all stripes will line up to be the first to purchase the console at the stroke of midnight as they are entertained by acrobats, music, pyrotechnics, Wii interactives on Segway scooters and a general party atmosphere.
* 7-Eleven: 7-Eleven is giving away 711 Wii consoles. Codes are printed on the sides of special Nintendo-branded Slurpee cups. Through Jan. 31, people go online to enter their codes to see if they have won. 7-Eleven also will introduce a new limited-time-only Nintendo-themed Slurpee flavor: StrawberrWii Banana. Print ads will run in Blender, Electronic Gaming Monthly and DC Comics. Print ads will also run in USA Today and The Onion. In addition, online banner ads will appear on Google, GameZone, IGN, Rotten Tomatoes and GameSpot.
* Pringles Snack Stacks: Pringles.com is giving away 100 Wii consoles. The program is supported by 7 million Wii-themed Pringles Snack Stacks packages and an additional 2 million Wii-themed Pringles canisters on display at Wal-Mart stores for the first three weeks of December. The sweepstakes runs now through April 16.
* Comedy Central: The comedy cable network will give away a Wii every hour Thursday through Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. Wii will be featured in a series of vignettes spoofing reality TV shows. At the end of the weekend, the grand prize will be a Wii console and a Scion tricked out to look like a Wii.
As Seen on TV
* Wii Would Like to Play: Wii's central ad campaign follows two friendly Japanese men who bring Wii to people's homes to demonstrate how easy and fun it is for everyone to play. Stephen Gaghan, who wrote the screenplay for and directed Syriana and won a best screenplay Oscar for writing Traffic, directed the four spots. The director of photography is John Seale, who won an Oscar for best cinematography on The English Patient and was nominated for Oscars for Rain Man, Cold Mountain and Witness. The spots begin airing the week of Nov. 13.
* Nick @ Nite: Wii will be featured on the Nov. 24 Nick@Nite episode of Road Crew. The spots feature a family from Long Island that finally finds something they can all enjoy together - playing Wii.
* Nickelodeon: A Wii ad begins Nov. 20. The 60-second spot shows a dad mistaking the Wii Remote for his television remote control. Dad becomes immersed in the fun, and soon the whole family joins in.
* TeleFutura: Nintendo will be at November auditions in New York for the highly successful international singing competition show Objetivo Fama (Objective: Fame) to allow contestants to sample the Wii console and calm their pre-audition jitters.
* Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Discovery Kids Network: A feature scheduled to air in December showcases kids, parents and teachers sampling Wii at a school event and sharing their experiences.
Sources: Bloomberg, Next-Gen, Nintendo press server (registration required)
Thanks to: Joystiq, Joystiq