The State of Console Sales at the End of July 2014
Much has happened over the past two months that has had the potential to upset the status quo of console sales as they stood back at the end of May. E3 has been and gone, and with it two mediocre performances by Microsoft and Sony, along with a decidedly above average one from Nintendo, who were already buoyed by the May 30 release of Mario Kart 8. Serving as a backdrop to this E3 pageantry was the fact that the Kinectless Xbone price cut had only just come into effect on the 9th of June. The announcement that the Xbone would be sold without the dreaded Kinect had kept a lid on console sales for over a month, so Microsoft were primed for big things. Both Nintendo and Microsoft stood to gain positive sales momentum over the month of June, and both did by varying degrees.
Microsoft’s Xbone shot off like a rocket, and the pent up consumer demand saw the console’s sales surge neck-and-neck with the PS4 within the North American market. This reversal of fortune saw many Xboners predicting that that the Xbone would start making major inroads into decimating the PS4’s North American lead, to eventually reclaim the crown of top console in the US market. Some particularly blithering idiots also took it as a sign that the Xbone would come out ahead in overall sales too, because apparently markets do not exist outside of America. Many people had predicted that the Xbone would take top honours in the NPD numbers for June, yet this is something that did not eventually happen. Microsoft announced that they had doubled the number of Xbones sold in June, but it was Sony who announced that they had posted the highest sales figures for the month. Whatever hopes that Xboners had for the Xbone becoming the new US frontrunner must have surely taken a hit when the VGChartz numbers came in for the 19th of July [the most recent figures available], and it became evident that Xbone sales had slipped from neck-and-neck with the PS4 the week before, to a deficit of over twelve thousand units – essentially bringing expectations crashing back down to earth. Price parity with the PS4 in addition to a piece of must-have exclusive software may be enough to eventually elevate the Xbone above then PS4 in its domestic market, but no such exclusive software looks to be in the immediate offing. Sunset Overdrive looks fun but unspectacular, while the remastered Halo collection is comprised of content that people have already experienced. Even Halo 5 is something of a known quantity with a pre-defined audience, so no genuine surprises should be expected when it releases. At any rate, the net result of this backward slide is that the Xbone is back to selling half the number consoles as Sony in terms of global sales.
The Wii U for its part did not experience meteoric sales like the Xbone. It did not threaten to unseat the PS4 in the US or Europe. It did not even claw its way out of third place for the majority of June and July. What it did do however, was to post solid sales figures over this period, and [crucially] these sales figures look to be a sustained increase. The Xbone may have shot higher, but as it came crashing down to earth the Wii U’s stronger sales remained an unwavering constant. That is the power of a strong E3 showing [even if they were not technically at E3], and that is why the week of July 19 saw the Wii U in second place, rather than third in terms of global sales – as they lead Microsoft 59,173 to 57,774. At this rate Ubisoft may have to finally release that finished game which they have repeatedly threatened to drop…
Game Sales Surge on PS4
… Or not. Apparently Ubisoft’s sales on the Wii U are now so negligible that in the quarterly breakdown they released this week they did not even bother to list games sold on the Wii U, this despite the fact that they list one percent of their sales coming from its predecessor, the Wii. Granted, there were no significant Ubisoft releases on the Wii U during the previous three months, and one presumes that Ubi must have released one of their shovelware dance games on its predecessor during this time, yet it is still remarkable that the Wii U has managed to account for less than one percent of Ubisoft’s quarterly sales.
Ubisoft’s sales on the Wii U might be shockingly bad, but then it is unlikely that anyone would have predicted otherwise. What is perhaps a more fruitful line of consideration is what Ubisoft’s quarterly results might say about Xbone software sales. For the last six months one of the more common retorts favoured by Xboners in the face of poor console sales has been that Xbox owners buy more software than Playstation owners, so the huge installbase deficit does not matter. That being the case, Xbox owners must have a natural dislike for Ubisoft games. Seeing as the PS4’s lead over the Xbone is by significantly less than double the number, one might suppose that Xbox users would certainly manage to purchase software in a quantity that handily exceeded fifty percent of PS4 software sales, especially since Xbox owners are such prolific purchasers of software. Well, as it turns Xboners bought less than half the amount of Ubisoft software that PS4 owners did, this in spite of the fact that Ubisoft has released a game that is exclusive to the Xbone, Fighter Within. So much for the Xboner’s voracious appetite for purchasing software.
“Console / Percentage of Software Sales – From April-June 2014
PlayStation 4 36%
Xbox One 17%
PlayStation 3 17%
Xbox 360 14%
Given the poor state of Sony’s business as a whole, they really needed the PS4 to succeed right out of the gate, and by gum it did. Not only do they have a healthy lead in console sales, but it would appear that PS4 owners are inclined to purchase a disproportionately large amount of software – and Sony must be loving the inflow of royalties. That is not the only take away message from the above figures however, as there are two other vital points which should be appreciated. Firstly, Ubisoft’s PC sales are pretty amazing given they only trail a little behind the Xbone, and secondly it is evident that the PS4, Xbone, and PC comprise sixty-seven percent of Ubisoft’s sales, which serves to lend weight to the assertion that the time for developing AAA games for the last gen consoles is now over.
Ghost in the Machine
Lusipurr.com is not in the habit of reporting on human interest stories, especially not something as feelsy and mawkish as this, yet it does bear mentioning [in a slow news week] if only because it is something that could only have happened in the medium of modern gaming. A kind of bittersweet story has this week originated from the comments section of a Youtube video regarding spirituality in video games. Youtube user 00WARTHERAP00 recounted memories of his four year old self receiving his first game console, an OG Xbox, back in 2001, and the time he spent playing with his father until his father’s death some two years later. Subsequently, the lad found himself unable to use the console on which he and his father had spent so much time, and so the years came and went until ten years had passed, and finally he was far enough removed from the grief in order to hook up his old Xbox to play some games. What he found was altogether unexpected, and was something that allowed him to reconnect with his father like few other things could:
“Well, when i was 4, my dad bought a trusty XBox. you know, the first, ruggedy, blocky one from 2001. we had tons and tons and tons of fun playing all kinds of games together – until he died, when i was just 6.
i couldnt touch that console for 10 years.
but once i did, i noticed something.
we used to play a racing game, Rally Sports Challenge. actually pretty awesome for the time it came.
and once i started meddling around… i found a GHOST.
you know, when a time race happens, that the fastest lap so far gets recorded as a ghost driver? yep, you guessed it – his ghost still rolls around the track today.
and so i played and played, and played, untill i was almost able to beat the ghost. until one day i got ahead of it, i surpassed it, and…
i stopped right in front of the finish line, just to ensure i wouldnt delete it.
It is not at all uncommon for the bereaved to look to the things that the deceased leave behind in order to find solace – a scent on an old tshirt, a photo, a family film, a favourite nicknack, Jecht Spheres – but there are few [if any] mementos that would allow for the living to interact with the dead in quite the same way as this. It is also worth pointing out that as a largely digital generation we are likely unaware of the digital echoes and traces that we are leaving behind in a similar fashion. At any rate, it is a tale that certainly allowed this author to view the medium of video gaming with new eyes, so to speak.