Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sony beheads goat at ´God of War II´ launch event in the UK

Sony Computer Entertainment beheaded a live goat at a launch event for ´God of War II´ in the UK. Further, attending members of the press were challenged to reach inside the still warm carcass and devour the raw innards in a competition to win a PlayStation3.

The unlikely story was broken by the UK´s Daily Mail. The current issue of the country´s Official PlayStation 2 Magazine has published a set of pictures showing the horrific act. In one of them, below, the beheaded goat has subsequently been pixellated. Hostesses at the event were bare-chested.

Copies of the magazine have already been mailed to subscribers. Newsstands are supposed to carry it from Tuesday (May 1st), but, apparently, the entire circulation of 80.000 has been recalled following the outrage.

Sony has apparently apologized for the event. However, there is no word yet on SCEE´s virtual press office.

According to the article, even a Member of Parliament has commented on the event and condemned it.

Has Sony finally lost its mind? There will surely be dire consequences for the company in the wake of this incident.

Sony has been criticized for a number of its advertising campaigns in the past. There were racist and illegal graffiti ads promoting the PSP, as well as a fake fan blog. This latest incident is by far the most serious, though, likely implicating lengthy legal proceedings, as well as a public outrage that will further damage the reputation of a company struggling to get back on its feet.

EDIT The title of this post may be misleading and some of the above information inaccurate, I am afraid. According to Kotaku and, perhaps after an update, the original article, the goat was not actually killed on site, but ordered from a butcher shop. It was then stuffed with other meats.

EDIT Interestingly, Dave Karraker, Senior Director of Corporate Communications at SCEA has issued an official response regarding this incident, although it really should have been up to SCEE to make that statement. Here it is:

The event was a theatrical dramatisation with a Greek mythological theme and, as part of the set dressing, a dead goat was provided by the production company from a qualified local butcher. Following the mainstream popularity of shows such as 'I'm a Celebrity, Get me out of here' a series of challenges were set for the journalists.

The 'warm entrails' referred to in the invitation and in the Mail on Sunday article was actually a meat soup, made to a traditional Greek recipe and served to attendees in china bowls direct from the caterers. There was never any question of journalists being able to touch the goat, or indeed eat the soup direct from the body of the goat, as one report has alleged. The goat was returned to the butcher at the end of the event.

Also, animal rights group PETA has mentioned this story on their blog:

When a company of Sony's stature goes out of its way to commit an act of senseless violence for a promotion, you have to start questioning whether they have any concern at all about the message they're sending to fans. Sony is evidently recalling the entire 80,000 print run of the PlayStation magazine in which this story featured, though it's frankly a bit late for the victim of the stunt at this stage.

Source: The Daily Mail
Image source: Official PlayStation 2 Magazine
Thanks to: Cheswick, Joystiq
See also: FOX News

Friday, April 27, 2007

Kutaragi´s fall from grace - or K.K.´s slide

Today, I would like to say goodbye to one of the industry´s most notorious figures. He is often referred to as the ´the father of the PlayStation´. TIME magazine even called him the ´Gutenberg of videogames´ once.

More recently, though, the Wall Street Journal called him ´uncommunicative´, a ´renegade´ and a ´stumbling block´ for Sony Corp.´s success. These allegations were based on an interview with the company´s CEO, Howard Stringer.

To most gamers and even media outlets, he is now known merely as ´Krazy Ken´ or, as I like to call him, ´Ken "Krusty" Kutaragi´.

Why the fall from grace? Well, let us recall some of Krusty´s more memorable quotes.

You can communicate to a new cybercity. Did you see the movie The Matrix? Same interface. Same concept. Starting from next year, you can jack into The Matrix! (about the PlayStation2)

Newsweek (via an excerpt from Dean Takahashi´s book ´Xbox360 Uncloaked´ on 1UP), March 2000

I'm not going to reveal [the PS3's] price today. I'm going to only say that it'll be expensive. (...)

I'm aware that with all these technologies, the PS3 can't be offered at a price that's targeted towards households.

PlayStation meeting speech (via CNN Money), July 2005

[We want] consumers to think to themselves 'I will work more hours to buy one'. We want people to feel that they want it, irrespective of anything else. (about the PlayStation3´s price)

Toyo Keizai (via T3), July 2005

It's probably too cheap. (about the PlayStation3´s price)

Of course, this is a number that we announced having made sure we can definitely prepare it. There is the possibility of unexpected problems like an earthquake or theft, so I won't say it's absolute, but if this type of trouble does not occur, there's no problem with this number. (about SCE´s global shipment target)

IT Media (via IGN), May 2006

I believe we made the most beautiful thing in the world. Nobody would criticize a renowned architect's blueprint that the position of a gate is wrong. It's the same as that. (about a design flaw with the PSP´s square button)

Nikkei Business (via Gamespot), January 2005

Cell will make possible a transformation in entertainment like that from novels to movies.

Forbes, February 2005

The PlayStation [3] is not a game machine. We've never once called it a game machine. (...) With the PS3, our intentions have been to create a machine with supercomputer calculation capabilities for home entertainment.

Impress PC Watch (via CNET), May 2005

Beating us for a short moment is like accidentally winning a point from a Shihan [Karate master], and Microsoft is still not a black belt. (about competition from Microsoft´s Xbox)

Asahi Shinbun (via Eurogamer), June 2005

We're not going to equip [the PS3 with] a HDD by default, because no matter how much [capacity] we put in it, it won't be enough.

Impress PC Watch (via CVG), June 2005

The idea of a computer architecture that emulates living organisms struck me as I was swimming through a sea of ideas. A network made of cells that works like a single computer? I felt this wild urge to try out that sort of thing. (...)

Just think of the Apollo program that sent human beings to the moon, or Celera's project to analyze the human genome. Not every engineer has the chance to participate in such projects that can impact the course of the history. Cell is exactly this kind of project. (...) Thirty years from now, some members of our team may end up being looked up to just like Shockley or Moore. (about the opportunity for engineers to work on the development of the Cell chip)

Tech On, April 2005

I have aimed at bringing about a computer revolution. (about the PlayStation3 being a computer rather than a games console) (...)

Application programs can no longer directly access the hardware; instead they will have to be written in high-level, object-oriented language. That was done for security reasons: If processors of high performance and wide bandwidth like the Cell were linked together without sufficient security, a worldwide system crash could occur with one attack. (about the ease of developing games for the PS3) (...)

The model image for the Cell-based network may be the Internet: Servers around the world form one virtual "computer," and each PC accesses it. One Cell or cluster of Cells can also function as a server; but whereas the present Internet mainly handles characters, applications on the Cell network will also handle semantics and reasoning. (...)

I am sure that a technology revolution is about to occur, not only within Sony but throughout the digital consumer electronics industry.

EE Times Asia, June 2005

Oh, my word. I was aware of most of those quotes, but I had evidently missed the best ones, like him comparing the PlayStation2 to the technology seen in the movie ´The Matrix´.

Also, believing that some engineers on the Cell chip development team may later be looked upon with the same regard as the father of Silicon Valley or the founder of Intel is another great one. And just think: if the engineers were to ascend into such spheres, where would that leave Kutaragi?

I cannot believe that this clown said all those things. The term hubris does not even start to describe his state of mind. I called for his resignation back in November, after it emerged that Krusty had been personally responsible for losing the console´s exclusivity of the ´Grand Theft Auto´ and ´Assassin´s Creed´ franchises. After all this, the only possible response to him leaving is ´good riddance´.

Just a little interesting tidbit which I stumbled over while researching this compilation: Kutaragi never said "Microsoft shoots for the moon. Sony shoots for the sun" or "The PS3 will instill discipline in our children and adults alike. Everyone will know discipline." Those quotes were fakes invented by Kotaku.

Sources: 1UP, CNN Money, T3, IGN, Gamespot, Forbes, CNET, Eurogamer, CVG, Tech On, EE Times Asia
Thanks to: Joystiq, Stinkles, Shacknews, ChairmanSteve, Kotaku, PS3 Today, IGN, The Guardian

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Nintendo sells six million units, expects 20 sold by March

Nintendo has met its target of shipping six million Wii consoles within the financial year 2006/2007 and expects to have an installed base of 19,84 million units by the end of the next financial year, ending March 2008. The console also achieved phenomenal software tie ratios.

Here is the information taken from the company´s most recent annual report (PDF file):

Wii hardware

Japan: 2 million

The Americas: 2,37 million

Other:: 1,47 million

Total: 5,84 million

Wii software

Japan: 6,12 million

The Americas: 14,49 million

Other:: 8,23 million

Total: 28,84 million

Tie ratios

Japan: 3,06

The Americas: 6,11

Other:: 5,60

Total: 4,94

The tie ratios are my own calculations and are very close to my estimates three months ago.

Please note that the software figures may include ´Wii Sports´. The game being bundled with the hardware outside of Japan, this would make the other figures go down to 5,11 and 4,60 for the Americas and other territories, respectively.

According to the report, Nintendo expects a further 55 million games to be sold between April and the end of March, bringing the expected total up to 83,84 million units and making for a tie ratio of 4,23 overall.

Source: Nintendo annual report 2006/2007 (PDF file)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wal-Mart to side with HD-DVD and end format war?

Chinese media are reporting that Wal-Mart has ordered 2 million HD-DVD players from Taiwanese manufacturer Fuh Yuan, according to a poster on the AVS forums. Wal-Mart will apparently pay $50 per unit. Hence, the players may carry a retail price tag between $99 and $199.

This is a fraction of the cheapest Blu-ray players, retailing at $600 (in the form of either the PlayStation3 or Sony´s BDP-S300 to be released soon). If true, this move could easily decide the format war. And if Blu-ray fails, the PlayStation3 will lose its unique selling point.

As you might have expected, I am in contact with Wal-Mart and will post their reply as soon as possible.

EDIT Gizmodo reports of select retailers selling the Xbox360´s external HD-DVD drive for little more than $70. However, this might be a limited offer to clear stock.

EDIT Wal-Mart has denied the rumours, speaking to PhysOrg.

"The article… was full of inaccuracies and we had no participation in it," the spokesman said in an e-mail to PC Magazine . "Most of the facts, including the purchase, were untrue," she added. "Not sure how it originated."

When asked to comment specifically on a statement appearing on Fuh Yuan's site, which implies the retailer is at least interested in ordering the players, the spokesperson said she could not comment on or disclose Wal-Mart's internal business with suppliers and our orders. However, the supplier said that no deal was imminent.

The manufacturer, Fuh Yuan, also retracted from their earlier claims, according to the article:

"We are sorry to correct the statement that we have two million HD-DVD players order from Wal-Mart and manufactured by China Great Wall Group," Fuh Yuan said. "The actuality is that we had not received yet. We are asked to provide the schedule to Wal-Mart and cost to determine the quantity even more than two million, if the cost is good enough and timing is correct. So the capacity is under consideration. Any qualified manufactured base group will be welcome."

Sources: Wei2008, ET Today (Chinese), UDN (Chinese)
Thanks to: Some Guy, Pocooo, Digital Trends, Gadgettell, Gizmodo, SciFi

Monday, April 23, 2007

Back from New York

Sorry for the lack of updates. I only just got back from a trip to New York. There, I got my greedy little hands on a cool Xbox360 game you already know about. And soon I can tell you all about it.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Jaffe implies that Blu-ray is an expendable PS3 feature

David Jaffe, Sony´s prestigious game designer (´God of War´) has implied that Blu-ray is an expendable feature of the PlayStation3.

Questioned what he would have changed about the console, the designer said in an interview with GameTrailers:

I probably would have taken the Blu-ray out and sold it for less money.

The full context of that comment is to be released this Sunday (the quote originates from a teaser advertising the upcoming third part of the interview). Nevertheless, this one sentence has sent a shockwave through the industry.

Dave Karraker, Senior Director of Corporate Communications at Sony Computer Entertainment America, has defended Jaffe´s right to question Blu-ray, but disagreed with his point, speaking to GameDaily.

David Jaffe is an industry pioneer who has earned the right to speak his mind on anything he wants when it comes to videogames. While we respect his opinion, we feel strongly that the future of gaming lies in the ability to deliver more to the consumer -- more gameplay options, more lifelike graphics, more dynamic sound -- all in high definition.

To do that, you need a storage vehicle such as the 50 GB Blu-ray disc, because your standard 9 GB DVD simply can't handle the demands of true next-generation gaming.

There is no mention of the story over on Jaffe´s blog.

This must be seen as a massive PR blunder for Sony (another one, to be sure). One of their most renowned designers is implying that Blu-ray is an unnecessary and, as such, expendable feature of the PlayStation3.

Sony, in contrast, have spent a great deal of time on hammering the message home that Blu-ray was the key to the PlayStation3 and the gateway to entirely new gaming experiences. In the light of Jaffe´s comment, this must be regarded as an overstatement, to be polite.

EDIT Answering to accusations of sensationalism, GameTrailers (via GamePro) has released a slightly longer excerpt from the full interview, which will be released tomorrow.

GameTrailers: If you designed the PlayStation3, what one thing would you have changed about it?

Jaffe: (pauses) This will bite me in the ass in four years, because it was probably a smart decision. But I probably would have taken the Blu-ray out and sold it for less money.

EDIT The third part of the Jaffe interview is online now, adding the full context of the quote in question.

GameTrailers: If you designed the PlayStation3, what one thing would you have changed about it?

Jaffe: (pauses) This will bite me in the ass in four years, because it was probably a smart decision. But I probably would have taken the Blu-ray out and sold it for less money.

GameTrailers: Why?

Jaffe: I think it could have been a more competitive system that way. I think more gamers would have bought it. And ultimately, I am not personally - not as a Sony employee, as a person - convinced that the average or even above-average consumer is really that interested in sort of trading in their DVD collection for another format right now. Maybe even next generation of PlayStation it would have been the right time.

Probably, this... Sony always surprises me, because they are always a hell of a lot smarter than I think when I hear the first, initial decision. So it will probably work out great and I hear Blu-ray is doing really well. But for me, if I was sitting at the helm at the time, I probably would have said: Yeah ...

GameTrailers: ... would not have taken the risk?

Jaffe: It´s not an issue of risk. It just doesn´t seem to be worth... I would have liked to have sold the box for cheaper and get more gamers having it versus sort of pricing it at that level, which we only could have priced it at, which is a great price when you consider Blu-ray is in it, but I would have just taken Blu-ray out.

Sources: GameTrailers, GameDaily
Thanks to: GameDaily,

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sony cans 20GB PS3

Sony has decided to pull the 20GB model, the cheaper of its two PS3 stock keeping units (SKU) from stores. This leaves the 60GB model as its one remaining SKU in North America, Joystiq quotes Dave Karraker, Senior Director of Corporate Communications at Sony Computer Entertainment America.

At launch, we offered two separate models of PlayStation 3 to meet the diverse needs and interests of our PlayStation fan base. Initial retail demand in North America was upwards of ninety percent in favor of the 60GB SKU, so we manufactured and shipped-in accordingly.

Due to the overwhelming demand for the 60GB model from both retailers and consumers, we have ceased offering the 20GB model here in North America. In addition to the larger internal hard drive, the 60GB PlayStation 3 features added storage media slots and built-in Wi-Fi not found in the 20GB system. Based on retailer and consumer feedback, we have decided to focus our current efforts on the more popular 60GB model.

The report does not specify whether the decision will affect the other territories as well. I regard this as highly likely, though.

Source: Joystiq

Take-Two to prioritize Nintendo

Take-Two Interactive has vowed to make development for Nintendo platforms a priority. The troubled publisher´s chairman Strauss Zelnick outlined this as part of a short-term plan for revitalizing the company to Gamasutra.

Also, their hit franchise ´Grand Theft Auto´ will remain their flagship series, the chairman continued.

Zelnick said that while it's true that no franchise lives forever, he saw GTA as the company's 'James Bond' -- a franchise that will continue to reinvent itself, adding that last year's Bond film release was its highest grossing to date. (...)

Asked about the company's traditionally weak relationship with Nintendo, Zelnick confirmed that "working with Nintendo is a priority," and in fact "all of next-gen is a priority," adding that the challenge was to tailor games to each platform and the type of consumer that was attracted to the platform, but that Take-Two was committed to creating "great games for Nintendo."

So ´GTA´ will continue to be their flagship series and the company vows to prioritize Nintendo platforms. Put the two aspects together and what do you get?

While no specific mention has been made, Zelnick´s comments stop short of an outright confirmation of a Wii version of ´Grand Theft Auto´. With publishers apparently scrambling to jump on the Wii bandwagon, this move would only make sense - for both companies.

However, shares in Take-Two were down almost five percent today, while Nintendo shares climbed another 1,6 percent to a four-year record high.

Source: Gamasutra
Image source: own artist´s conception

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Wii to ship 16 million units this year, says analyst

Nintendo is expected to ship 16 million units this year, an analyst with IDC has told Bloomberg.

Nintendo's lead will widen, pressuring companies even more. Researcher IDC predicts Nintendo will ship 16.1 million players this year, outpacing Microsoft's 9.87 million Xbox 360s and Sony's 9.1 million PlayStation 3s. Wii game sales will total $2.2 billion, trailing only Xbox 360, said IDC, based in Framingham, Massachusetts.

The analyst expects that these figures will ensure that Nintendo will overtake Microsoft and claim market leadership this year.

The article concentrates on Electronic Arts and other publishers underestimating the impact of the Wii until now. Those companies are apparently now rushing to get "their best-branded product on that platform. That will take a good nine to 12 months," another analyst claims.

Source: Bloomberg
Thanks to: Joystiq, MaxConsole

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Closer look at February´s hardware sales figures

While February´s console sales figures in the US have been out for some time, I believe that noone has made the effort to add up the weekly Japanese sales figures for that month, in order to compare the two countries side by side.

I did just that for my PS3 launch report the other day - and it remains an interesting comparison. Why is the PS2 still doing extraordinarily well in the US, but not in Japan? Why, then, is the PS3 not doing better in its home country?

Some interesting questions there. Please appreciate the fact that both charts were compiled and produced for RTL II. They are the copyright holders.

Source: RTL II

News round-up

Some big news making the rounds today. So here is another news round-up.

1. Nintendo raises profit outlook

Nintendo has upped their profit outlook once again, this time by 66 billion Yen (which approximates to 500 million US Dollar). According to the note to investors, the main reasons for this are ´robust trends in sales of "Nintendo DS" hardware and software.´

Source: Nintendo Co. Ltd. investors notice

2. European Wiis to get online gaming May 25th

´Mario Strikers´ will be the first Wii game in Europe to feature online gaming. This emerged from an article on Eurogamer, detailing the game´s online features.

It will be possible for two players on a single Wii to play on the same team against two players on another Wii connected to the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection network. (...)

The game will use the usual Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection "Friend code" system, and will also offer random matches. These will be region-locked though, so you won't ever be randomly paired with an opponent in Australia, for example.

However, you will be able to play against gamers in other regions if you have their friend code, meaning that there won't be anything to stop you smacking the Aussies around when the game arrives on 25th May if you already know them.

Source: Eurogamer
Thanks to: Kotaku

3. Wii breaks sales records in first four month

Kotaku have compiled a handy chart of various consoles´ sales figures from their respective first four months of sales in the US.

And here is the same chart, each console pitted against the respective system´s software sales.

With the latter chart adding a few systems, we should note that Wii is only beaten by the N64 - a grim reminder that four months are too early to declare a winner in the console wars.

Source: Kotaku

4. UK retailers reduce PS3 price to clear stock

UK retailers WH Smith and Play have temporarily dropped the PS3´s price tag by £25 (approximately $50) to £399,99 ($790). The latter even includes an HDMI cable and a Blu-ray movie.

If Sony has managed to come close to their shipment target of six million consoles by March, the estimated sales figures suggest that around three million consoles worldwide could be sitting on store shelves.

The price drop by those retailers comes out of their own pockets (since Sony has not reduced the wholesale price retailers pay). With the console launching less than two weeks ago, such a move - albeit for a limited period - is a clear indicator that the system is not selling through.

Those retailers are clearly looking to sell off PS3 stock in order to restock faster-selling products, like the Wii.

Sources: MCV, MCV
Image Source: Coneee
NOTE: The image does not show either retail outlet mentioned above
Thanks to: Joystiq

5. ´Resident Evil 4´ confirmed for Wii

Almost forgot this one... Famitsu has confirmed that ´Resident Evil 4´ will be the first Gamecube game to be re-released for Wii (discounting ´Zelda: Twilight Princess´), CVG reports.

Expect many more such ´Wii-makes´, as Miyamoto announced them back in August.

Miyamoto envisages any such remakes will retail at a much lower price to their 'Cube originals, and may even help bring third party support to the system. "Even now," continued Miyamoto, "[GameCube titles] are sold at used shops, so we don't feel we could sell them for full price.

However, development costs have been taken care of, so we could probably sell them at a more accessible price. If we make it so that such GC to Wii remakes can be produced quickly, it's possible that many titles will also be released from third parties."

There is apparently no mention of a lower price in the Famitsu article. But Gamestop had listed the game in question for only $29,99 - before removing the page.

Sources: CVG, IGN, CVG

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The two sides to the European PS3 launch

"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 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*

Monday, April 02, 2007

Nintendo meets shipment target, Sony misses

Both Nintendo Co. Ltd. and Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. have been committed to shipping six million units of their latest home consoles by last Saturday, respectively.

While no official figures have been made available yet, reliable estimates clearly show that Nintendo has met that goal, while Sony seems to have missed it.

Videogame Charts pegs current sales thus:

Wii: 6,47 million

Xbox360: 9,86 million

PlayStation3: 3,07 million

NexGen Wars paints a similar picture:

Wii: 5,3 million

Xbox360: 10,9 million

PlayStation3: 2,5 million

While it is important to point out that the two companies have committed to shipment numbers rather than sales, Nintendo has actually sold through the amount they intended to ship.

Sony, on the other hand, must have the same amount of consoles in transit or sitting in stores as they have sold so far, in order to make good their prediction. That is very, very unlikely. If true, after all, it would prove that millions of units are gathering dust in shops around the world, which would be very, very bad news.

Soon, each company will release financial statements that sum up the past fiscal year, including final shipment numbers. Stay tuned for the exact figures. It is already clear, however, that Nintendo will more than meet their target, while Sony will have no good news in store for investors.

Sources: Videogame Charts, NexGen Wars

Sunday, April 01, 2007

´Metal Gear Solid 4´ no longer PS3 exclusive?, part IV

´Metal Gear Solid 4´, previously believed to be a PS3 exclusive, is in development for Xbox360 and PC, the VG Resource Center claims to have been told by an anonymous source within Konami. The source apparently stated the following:

Yes, in fact, we are working on putting Metal Gear Solid 4 on the Xbox 360 and PC, which should both come out roughly 6 months after the PS3 release. However, we've been working with Microsoft so the 360 and PC versions will both take advantage of Xbox Live and Games for Windows Live, with such features as achievements and the ability for 360 and PC owners to play against each other in multiplayer.

While Joystiq is mulling the question whether this would classify as an April Fool´s joke, I believe that it is not. For one, it was posted yesterday. Secondly, they have since posted their April Fool´s joke. Finally, as an issue that has been discussed to death and been the subject of many such rumours, this one makes pretty bad April Fool´s material.

After all, this is the fourth time we are discussing this issue. In January, Hideo Kojima himself said that ´MGS4´ was "for the PS3 only so far."

In late December, industry insider Daniel Boutros claimed to know about an Xbox360 version. Two months prior to that, EGM had raised the question whether ´MGS4´ was going multi-platform. IGN discussed their article at some length.

We only just saw the PS3 lose exclusivity on ´Devil May Cry 4´. ´Metal Gear Solid 4´ will be next - read my commentary to the ´DMC4´ story for my reasoning.

In fact, I am just as sure that the ´Final Fantasy´ franchise will make its way to other consoles, too. Remember that Square Enix pledged limited support to Sony back in September:

We don't want the PlayStation 3 to be the overwhelming loser, so we want to support them. But we don't want them to be the overwhelming winner either, so we can't support them too much.

The subsequent developments in next-gen console sales only validate this approach.

Source: VG Resource Center
Thanks to: Joystiq