Two years after the arrival of the eighth generation of home gaming consoles, the market situation and the endless speculations allow us to identify some firm points next to many uncertainties: Sony PlayStation 4 is still enjoying a seemingly unapproachable success, while Microsoft is trying to come out of its beaten-up boxer corner by playing the card of exclusive features - which in the end aren’t so exclusive, or at least not quite so. The uncertainties? They mostly apply to Nintendo, a company with an outlook that never seemed so frail.
After unveiling the partnership with DeNa for smartphone games and the new console known as NX, Nintendo recently said not to feel like a loser in the home console market: the corporation isn’t “cornered” at all, president Satoru Iwata has stated, even though it is aware of the need to be up to date in a constantly changing world. Nintendo had more than a chance to enter the mobile casual gaming business, so the DeNa partnership comes from a thoughtful choice and not from desperation.
The last time I was talking about surprising news coming for the home consoles, and in these two weeks it was mostly Nintendo that stirred things up with unexpected announcements that (partially) confirm specific analysts’ anticipations and the need to stimulate a merciless market. But let’s start from the beginning: NPD Group numbers about sales of gaming hardware and software reinforce Sony’s lead on February too, at least for the home consoles, and the Japanese corporation’s business grows accordingly.
Who is winning and who is losing, more than a year after the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One debut, the commercial, technological and gaming challenge of the eighth generation home consoles? The market seems to confirm the trend already set the past year, with the Sony console as the leading platform and the Microsoft machine desperately trying to get back on the top. Nintendo, at last, is really this generation’s Cinderella. But the future could be surprising for everyone, even for users thinking they have purchased a hardware device made to be forever unchanged.
After the last November’s lively beginning, the commercial race of the eighth generation home consoles is still nurturing the perpetual machine of controversy over each machine performances, the plans of the three big corporations in the industry (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo) for the future and everything. Unlike the recent past, however, controversy and rumors are just the garnish coming with the main dish - ie how many units the new consoles can sell to the customers still willing to invest their money on the gaming business.
Five years after the last post about the topic, the state of the everlasting commercial and technological war between gaming consoles couldn’t be more different: the machine which seemed to be done (PS3) recovered brilliantly, the Nintendo battleship is living a new difficult moment in its troubled history and the eighth generation of home console has been finally deployed in full with the PS4 and Xbox One debut. But the market is pretty different compared to the past as well, while everyone’s expectations - for publishers, analysts and players - have grown a ton.
After more than four years since the post with which this blog tried to highlight the dark side of that hollow and meaningless thing hidden behind the “cloud computing” moniker, I think it’s now time to go back on the topic with an annotated list of the most recent and remarkable horrors fallen down from the sky of Internet servers. The “mainframe 3.0″ class services promise a lot, keep very little and don’t give any guarantee on anything. Or to say it with the Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, selling one’s own rights of ownership on software, data and products is the first stone of the road that leads to digital hell.
It’s one of the most debated issues within the PC world together with the digital downloads’ true weight: how much is the computer video games market worth, what financial results does the PC gaming hardware gain compared to the - seemingly much healthier - major home consoles one? The reply comes from the PC Gaming Alliance (PCGA), the publishers and producers non-profit organization “dedicated to driving the worldwide growth of PC gaming” which details heavy numbers and proclaims: the computer definitely is the largest, most widespread and financially important gaming platform out there.
What do the (relatively) recent exploit of Nintendo’s Wii console, the iPhone popularity and the videogaming velleities of social networks like Facebook share? They all are facts which have contributed to open the video games market to a broader and broader audience, establishing the principle that casual gaming, that kind of ludic activity which does not force you to know the magic sequence “WASD” or the difference between a hack’n slash and a “pure” role playing game, is a growing phenomenon that will eventually shape the entire industry alongside its traditional technological and commercial models.
Maybe it isn’t correct to use expressions like “the Sony failure”, “the death of PlayStation platform” and others on the same model, but the numbers released by market research experts and by NPD Group in particular surely outline a more and more discouraging situation for the market adventure of PS3, continuously highlight the mistakes and the inability of Sony Computer Entertainment into innovating the videogaming market as in the past years and set off even more the clamorous success of Microsoft and Nintendo branded home consoles.
The worldwide recession is getting worse, wasting economies and laying off employees that will find themselves with no salary hence without money to spend in home entertainment. In such a scenario what was a balance leaning between hope and pessimism turns in a sword of Damocles dangerously close to deadly hit Sony’s Blu-ray, that maybe will get through this Christmas but could not be able to see the dawn of the next one.
Microsoft continues to push on the aggressive Xbox 360 price strategy announced in the first days of September. After having brought the cost of the basic console version below 200 dollars in the United States, Redmond has got through doing the same in the Old Continent where Xbox 360 “Arcade” will have a price of 180 € starting from tomorrow September 19.
In a candid impotence acknowledgment in regard of the money-making machine that the Wii console has turned to be, senior vice-president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business division Don Mattrick has clearly said that the larger part of seventh generation home consoles’ sales is enlarging and will continue to enlarge the yet-puffy Nintendo’s wallet.
Sony Computer Entertainment chairman Kazuo “Kaz” Hirai would like to sell 150 millions of PlayStation 3 in ten years, but even that wouldn’t be enough to recover from the astounding cost of the 3 billions of dollars lost for the console. It has been said not by a Nintendo fanboy but by the Sony Corporation Chief Executive Officer Sir Howard Stringer, who has frankly admitted with the press that PS3 is and will be a product at a loss for the coming years yet.
Is cause of a sensation the news coming from Japan in these days, according to which the Microsoft Xbox 360 console has exceeded the Sony PlayStation 3 in weekly sales. A fact that’s undoubtedly exceptional, considering that the American device has always been only a little more than an appearance in the Japanese videogaming scenery, and that can be an ideal background for some general considerations on the present landscape of the endless war among the seventh generation home consoles.
Looking at the last news coming out from the interactive entertainment market, the title couldn’t be more suitable: according to unconfirmed rumors Sony would have delayed the PS3 debut of a renowned futuristic racing saga for speeding and too much light effects, while Capcom executives have stated the strong will to not to skimp on blood gushes and assorted guts availability in the next chapter of the survival horror par excellence. At the cost of being unable to sell it to teenagers.