Friday, April 20, 2007

The Console Wars - An Irish perspective.

I am cheating here. I originally wrote this as an email to Bill Harris in response to his blog comments on PS3 sales figures but then I thought I may as well use it to pad out my own fairly lack-lustre blog. Anyway it would seem that PS3 is crashing and burning on a worldwide scale.

I am not a console gamer but I really hope the situation isn't as disastrous for Sony as sales figures suggest. I will always be grateful to Sony for their inspired Playstation advertising campaigns which were the first that I am aware of to recognise that intelligent adults play games.

I live in Ireland on the periphery of Europe and I have tried to get a local perspective to complement the figures that Bill gives for for Japan and the USA but I am afraid I don't have great sources. I have managed to put together a picture from games sales charts and combining that with my own obervations seems to present a slightly different picture to that in the US.

Latest game sales charts for Ireland are given by Chart Track here . As I am not a suscriber I can't see much detail but by correlating the overall entertainment software chart with the individual console charts I can draw the following conclusions:

1. The top 20 is dominated by PC, Handheld and PS2 titles.
2. One PS3 title makes it into the top 20 at number 18.
3. No Xbox360 or Wii title makes it into the top 20

I haven't accounted for cross platform games in my conclusions but as the top selling titles for 360 and Wii have not made the list I am guessing that their contribution to high selling cross platform games like Tiger Woods 07 has been small.

My own observations from visiting game shops matches the above. PS2 and handhelds continue to get the Lion's share of shelf space. Xbox 360 has a presence but is effectively only displacing the space that used to be occupied by Xbox. PS3 is relatively new and still has less shelf space than XBOX360 but more than Wii. In sharp contrast to the US experience Wii appears to be going nowhere in Ireland. One interesting side note is that the current uncertainty over the outcome of the console wars is benefiting PC gaming. For several years the shelf space devoted to PC gaming has been shrinking but in the last few months this trend seems to have stopped and even reversed.

You should know that Ireland had one of the highest concentrations of PS2 ownership in the world. There is a huge amount of almost fanatical brand loyalty. I talked to a number of PS2 fans who really want PS3 to succeed and have almost no thought for any other console. Price is a major dificulty however and until PS3 comes down to a more achievable price level PS2 will continue to outsell it.

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