"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
´A Tale of Two Cities´, Charles Dickens
There are always two sides to a story - but last month´s PlayStation3 launch in Europe and Oceania has really hammered this message home. The launch events seem to have been met with near-total indifference, while the sales figures suggest a very successful launch. One week on, though, sales figures have dropped a staggering 82 percent.
The best of times
Starting with the good news, Sony has sold significantly more consoles in the UK than Wii did in their respective first two days of sales.
Sony’s PS3 becomes the fastest selling home console in the UK, selling an estimated 165,000 units in its first two days of release, bettered only by its older handheld sibling the PSP which sold around 185,000.
Sony UK also made sure that those waiting in line at London's main midnight launch event did not regret making the purchase.
Every gamer waiting in line at Virgin Megastores' midnight opening on Oxford Street was given a 46-inch high-definition Bravia TV as the PS3 finally arrived in Europe. (...) Sony also ensured its fanbase got home safely by laying on cabs for every new PS3 owner.
Some excellent marketing there. Learning from the bad publicity accompanying the frenzied US launch, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe made sure that at least the London crowd was happy and safe. Great move.
The great sales figures around launch apply to Europe at large. More than a million units were shipped and 600.000 sold on launch day. Sounds like Sony has finally turned things around. Or does it?
The worst of times
Today, Games Industry confirmed that PS3 sales in the UK dropped a staggering 82 percent in the console´s second week.
A spokesperson for Chart Track confirmed the figure to GamesIndustry.biz this afternoon, stating: "Yes, sales of PS3 hardware have dropped by 82 per cent." (...)
This week's software charts revealed that sales of the top two PlayStation 3 titles, Resistance: Fall of Man and MotorStorm, had dropped by over 60 per cent.
Prior to launch, Sony UK saw an unrivalled amount of cancellations: 20.000 people who had pre-ordered the PS3 did not go ahead with the purchase.
Despite the strong sales during the first week, the various launch events flopped, as Game Daily records.
It's certainly nice that Sony treated its customers in the U.K. to free televisions, but 100 people in line is far from a great turnout. In Paris, where the launch ceremony was held at the bottom of the Eiffel tower, even fewer turned out. Around 50 people waited in line there, and online reports suggest similar low turnout for the next-gen console in Berlin, Germany and down under in Australia.
In console-prone France, there were some particularly embarrassing events, according to Next-Gen.
Rendez-vous was at the Suffren port on the Seine river, just by the Eiffel Tower, where the Louisiana Bell Boat was waiting. The large embankment was ready to welcome thousands of people. A big screen outside was showing some clips and the popular French movie OSS 117, which was just released on Blu-ray. By 9:30 pm, only a few dozen young people were waiting for their consoles. When asked, they revealed that real buyers were surrounded by one or more friends that wouldn’t buy the console themselves. They didn’t care for the Blu-ray player and yes, they thought the PS3's price was too high. But “the Sony console is something special, a high class product”, conceded one young worker with enough cash in his pocket and a plasma screen ready at home.
The president of the Fnac group was supposed to make a speech but left before doing so. Long time general manager of Sony Computer France Georges Fornay was also supposed to show and tour the temporary store boat with the media. But if it happened, it was in front of a few select TV cameras. Despite the 15 cash registers ready, the ad hoc store in the boat was too small for any tour anyway. (...)
At midnight no more than 50 people were actually queuing for a PS3. More than 100 media people were trying to get an image or a worthwhile interview. They were the crowd. The first official buyer’s Visa Card didn’t work. His moment in the media moved swiftly to another. The second buyer was overwhelmed by cameras. He didn’t have much to say either. All in all, maybe 50 PS3s sold. 950 were not.
Reuters (via Yahoo News) adds:
A handful of gamers showed up at a midnight store opening at Schiphol Amsterdam.
French news agency AFP (via Yahoo News) provides some detail about the PS3´s most prestigious launch location in the French capital.
In Paris only about 50 people turned out for the 1,000 PS3s available at a ceremonial launch at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. (...)
Stores in Australia and New Zealand were the first to open their doors to eager gamers, and organisers had predicted that thousands of gaming fans would turn out to snatch up the first of the next-generation units that were given a glitzy launch at Sydney's Myers Department Store.
In the end, just 65 excited gamers queued outside Myers department store for around four hours, before being allowed inside where they barely outnumbered staff and publicists.
The Sidney Morning Herald recorded some highly unethical behaviour by frustrated journalists.
This prompted some journalists, expecting a frenzied launch like the one in the US in November, to fake some of the excitement.
The launch of Sony's PlayStation 3 games console got off to a feeble start last night with officials, media and security outnumbering customers for most of the evening.
Over 500 retailers around the country threw open their doors as the clock struck 12:00am, expecting the frenzy that accompanied the games console's overseas debuts.
But most stores were virtually deserted, despite the 20,000 pre-orders Sony said it had received.
Even at the official launch event held at Myer's Pitt Street store in Sydney's CBD and attended by Sony's local managing director, Michael Ephraim, media and security outnumbered PS3 fans until at least 11:00pm.
At midnight, about 40 PS3 buyers had arrived to collect their consoles, causing distress for the army of camera crews who turned up expecting to capture launch mayhem.
Desperate producers unashamedly asked the crowd to fake excitement when the cameras were rolling, while a team from 2Day FM let out bogus cheers to convince their radio listeners that a launch extravaganza was underway.
Altogether, Sony has managed to sell 20.000 consoles down under during the launch weekend.
Few launch events showed a half-decent turnout, as the BBC records:
One of the better attended events seems to have been in Prague in the Czech republic where more than 100 gamers queued for the chance to buy a PS3 soon after midnight.
The Italian newspaper ´Corriere della Sera´ documented a big national upset regarding the PS3´s backwards compatibility.
While we should not underestimate the strong sales figures in its first week, the PS3 has been met with a bad reception in general by consumers, media and analysts alike.
As far as the latter breed is concerned, we are starting to hear the first analysts who think that Nintendo will win the console wars, courtesy of Reuters (via Yahoo News)
The first signs from retailers are cause for some concern.
"While Sony has set expectations for 1 million units at launch, we believe the amount will be in the 500,000- to 700,000-unit range across all of Europe. We think the shortfall is related more to demand than supply," said analyst Todd Greenwald at brokerage Nollenberger Capital Partners. (...)
Long-term projections from some analysts predict Nintendo's "casual gaming" console, the Wii, will emerge as winner in the current devices race.
Extrapolating sales so far, and given historical patterns, analysts at investment bank J.P. Morgan predict Sony will sell 60 million to 65 million PS3s, compared with 40 million to 45 million Xbox 360 units and up to 100 million Wii consoles.
Sources: AFP (via Yahoo news), Games Industry, Games Industry, BBC, Medialoper, Games Industry
Thanks to: Playfuls, Joystiq, Joystiq, *Shiwayb*