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Darren Waters

Sony on the way back?

  • Darren Waters
  • 6 May 08, 20:58 GMT

Sony's declaration that sales of its PlayStation 3 console have now overtaken the Xbox 360 in Europe will make for uncomfortable reading at Microsoft.

I've been chatting with games consultant Nick Parker, who told me that it was "no surprise" that the PS3 is now ahead of the 360.

But let's not forget the near-disastrous launch of PS3 16 months after the 360's debut, lack-luster early titles, production problems, delays, and seeming in-fighting between Sony Europe and America.

This was a textbook example of how not to launch a machine from a position of seeming dominance.

Yet the PlayStation brand has stayed strong enough in Europe to see off the Microsoft machine.

Nick Parker believes Microsoft's inability to widen the appeal of the Xbox 360 beyond the hardcore male gamer has been its undoing.

The worry for Microsoft must be that this is the start of the doomsday scenario they had always feared would come to pass.

Microsoft's gameplan for this generation of consoles has always been simple: get in first, build a lead and then retain it.

The company bust a gut to launch the Xbox 360 before the PlayStation 3, believing its lateness to the market in the last round of machines had cost it dear.

The big question was could the lead the company would accrue be large enough to hold off the inevitable PlayStation charge?

In Europe the answer is no.

In North America, the heartland of Xbox 360, the fight continues.


Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Even with this success sony still treats europe badly. We pay the highest price for the lowest spec PS3. No 80GB, very limited backwards compatibility, no dualshock 3.
    If the european PS3 had all this for a decent price compared to other regions then I'd buy one tomorrow, but while sony continue to shaft us I'll keep on waiting.

  • Comment number 2.

    T'is true how ALL companies, not just sony, give Europe the rough treatment. However the PS3 is selling better than the Xbox360 for very good reasons. Instead of giving us a Games Console they have gone and given us a fantastic Media Centre.

    The Blu-ray capability is fantastic but admittedly the web browser a work in progress, but it still meets my needs. Never liked MSN anyway, so that doesn't bother me... googlemail works for me!

    (One big question though while we are on the subject of europe being shafted... Why isn't the BBC highlighting this issue? Its been happening for decades now from Ford to Sony to Walkers Crisps!)

  • Comment number 3.

    Sony need to actually start advertising the PS3. Why have they spend zillions on a product not to promote it?

    People need to be more aware of the brand and to have their perceptions steered towards a positive attitude towards it. Call it what you like, but that's advertising ;)

    Oh, and also stop shafting us Europeans... treat us fair and the company and its products will be popular again.

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm actually surprised to hear this. I know that in my little part of the world most people have 360's. I work in the IT industry and am probably the stereotypical 'geek' when it comes to games consoles, owning all of the latest machines. I know of over 30 friends, family and work colleagues who have 360's, yet I only know of 2 other people who have invested in PS3's. Infact most people I know still take the mickey out of me for getting a PS3.

    There also seems to be a very strong and negative feeling towards SCEE with regards to the treatment of the European region, which again leaves me questioning whether Sony are somehow spinning these figures. All I would hope for is the start of some better treatment from Sony with regards to us EU customers, especially if it's true that we seem to be snapping up their console.

    However, much like the previous Sony promises of a Global PS3 launch, 100% backwards compatibility, or the numerous CGI vids passed of as in game footage, it all leaves me wondering if they are even telling the truth.

  • Comment number 5.

    like this is going to do any good for the gamers
    sony rake in $$$$ and in return we in europe are treated like poo.

    the only reason sony are selling so many units is because of the blueray (its cheaper then a Actual blue-ray dvd player) being someone that worked in retail and know people that sell the ps3. almost all clients and customers say they just bought it for the Blueray player.

    on a side note if sony are making so much wouldnt it be nice of them to stop treating us like dirt and charge us a fair price in the UK and not 30-40% more then US and JPN?

    and give us the 80GB like the US
    or atleast give the 60GB back

  • Comment number 6.

    And the PS3 has widened it's appeal to who exactly apart from just 'more' hard core gamers? As a PS360Wii owner at the minute Wii fit gets all the attention. The PS3 Blu Ray gives the promise of wonderment, but it's just a really expensive DVD player unless you shell out more than few thousand on complimentary Home cinema equipment that the new gen of consoles demands.

    Sony has been the leader for two successive generations of consoles. That natural lead will hardly let up just yet. But the 360 isn't dead by any stretch of the imagination and has a good 2+ years left in it yet. By which time we can say hello to the next MS offering....interesting....

  • Comment number 7.

    The brand of the second place console is of no importance to me.

    The wittle Wii showed that to be a success you need easy to use, inovative software. Not yet another Counter Halostrike clone with graphics that were state of the art on PCs 5 years ago.

    It is interesting to note that the failure of the XBox 360 is being partially put down to a failure to attract the non hard core gamer. I hope that the other software makers will notice this and will start to ignore the small but very vocal hard core gamer population in future.

  • Comment number 8.

    The Playstation brand was credited with opening up a more mainstream gaming market with more casual gamers. People expect it to to keep that up. I am big on my games but the Xbox and its successor have not really appealed to me once I started to look at the games on offer. Far too many generic FPS and RPG games I like both but I want variety too and Microsoft failed to secure that with developers.

    Sony on the other hand did manage it not so well this time the Wii stole everyones thunder but despite my anger with Sony I am sure they will woo developers again despite high developer kit costs and being rather snotty at the beginning of the current next gen war towards the developers and saying they only wanted to "work with the big three"

  • Comment number 9.

    I think the importance of the Blu-ray player is being significantly underestimated here.

    I've owned a PS3 since November and the main reason I got it was for the Blu Ray player and I don't think I'm alone.

    The fact that you can buy the console with built in Blu-Ray for less than you can most stand-alone Blu-Ray players is a massive factor. Added to that it because of its capability to go online, it is one of the few Blu-Ray players that can get software updates that could prove vital in the future.

    The fact that it can play games is almost just an added bonus. I'm a casual gamer who picks it up every now and again to play a few select titles but if it hadn't had the Blu-Ray player would I have bothered at all? Would I have got an X-Box 360 instead? I don't even know.

    Brand loyalty is also a big issue but I've said my bit.

  • Comment number 10.

    I think for a lot of people it's the realisation that you get what you pay for. I own a 360 and a Playstation 3 and, to be honest, I haven't even switched on my 360 since getting the PS3. With a PS3 you get solid build quality and it's quiet! The 360's noise is reminiscent of a jet fighter engine and with an estimated 30% failure rate, is it worth risking £159? I tried using it as a DVD player but that high-pitched whine all but destroyed the whole experience.

    In addition Sony are known for continuing support for owners of previous consoles. New games for the PS2 are still coming out now, whereas Microsoft dropped the original Xbox and made out like it didn't exist before the 360 was even released. Look at PlaysForSure for an example of how Microsoft like to treat its customers.

  • Comment number 11.

    "I think the importance of the Blu-ray player is being significantly underestimated here."

    Spot on.

    The PS3 is a decent console but the multiplayer experience isn't a patch on Xbox Live. This is one aspect where Microsoft is king - getting developers to build a unified achievements system and transparent voice chat into their games to make the whole gaming experience consistent is a great achievement for them. The Playstation Network has the feel of a beta by comparison - it's disjointed, there's no built-in support in games, etc.

    The big sale of the PS3 in my opinion is that it really works well as a media centre. The unit itself is beautifully designed and fits in seamlessly in modern AV environments. More importantly it is whisper quiet - it really can be used as a media centre without it feeling like a comprimise or a "home brew" solution.

    Of course it's piece d'resistance is the Blu Ray player which is still one of the cheapest available on the market, and with the benefit of firmware updates over the Internet is likely to remain cutting edge.

    Bottom line the PS3 just fits so much better into the typical consumers lounge, and with more and more consumers upgrading their AV equipment to LCDs/Plasmas the upward trend of PS3 buying is likely to continue.

  • Comment number 12.

    To all the people complaining about the European 40GB version and asking for 60GB... that's still tiny, really...

    ... for less than £60 you can get yourself this (http://www.ebuyer.com/product/131277) 250GB hard drive and just install it in your PS3 yourself.

    The hard drive is user-servicable, all you need is a screw driver to remove the old PS3 hard drive, and slot in a new one.

    If you need more guidance, just have a look on YouTube and there are several videos (including ones from c-net etc.) showing you how it's done - it'll take you less than 5mins...

  • Comment number 13.

    This article misses the point completely, the hardware is not the important part, the sales of game titles is where all the profit is. Remove the people who own the PS3 who own it for a BluRay player and the success will be much reduced. I see this as a BluRay sales spike, PS3 is the cheapest way to play BluRay discs therefore it will sell for this reason alone, will these same people buy lots of games, time will tell. I know only a handful of PS3 owners, all of which bought it for the BluRay playback.
    Whenever a brand like samsung etc release a cheaper player just watch the PS3 sales stall, remember these consoles are very greedy with power consumption and a separate player will always offer better value in the long run.
    And no I do not want to watch movies on the 360 either - unless it is a movie about vacuum cleaners.

  • Comment number 14.

    Another voice to add to the complaints about the way Europan customers are treated. We make up 50% of total PS3 sales and yet are treated like a second-class market.

    M$ absolutely nailed the online experience from the word go though - PS3 is still a long way behind both in terms of seamless integration and driving people to play online in the first place. Sony talk the "community" talk but they aint walking the walk....yet. I await with baited breath for PS3 Home.

    My main critcism with the version we get in the EU is not the hard drive size but the lack of USB connectivity - our version only has 2 USB ports when even the most basic laptop you can buy you'd expect up to 6. It's really stunting the ability of comsumers to use the device as a media hub without having to fork out for a USB expansion hub.

  • Comment number 15.

    I know two people with PS3s and both bought it for the Blu-Ray player and rarely (if ever) actually play a game on it.

    If it is true that console sales are effectively a loss-leader, with the manufacturers making their money from games sales then clearly the PS3 has some way to go before it becomes profitable for Sony.

    If all it wants to do is say "Hey, we've sold more than you", then it has even bigger problems than that.

    Given the sheer dominance of Sony in the last two generations, it should never have been in a position where it needed to play catchup.

    All that said ... I'll go back to my Wii now, thank you very much!

  • Comment number 16.

    Having owned a 360 first (never again, the DVD drive packed up in two months) then a PS3 I have to say the PS3 is far superior IMHO. As mentioned its super quiet in comparisson and you can upgrade the HDD yourself with a standard 2.5 inch drive. This is in stark comparisson to the proprietry HDD used in the 360.

    I didn't buy it as a Blu Ray player as my upscaled DVDs (something the 360 doesn't do) look fine thanks.

    I'd been sorely let down by the standard of modern games but GT5 has had me hooked since launch, the online leaderboard being a significant part of that.

    I can also make streaming of my mp3 collection to my TV work wirelessly using my PS3 which I could never get to work on my 260 and I much prefer the XMB interface.

    I'm not a Sony fanboy but after trying both I much prefer the PS3.

  • Comment number 17.

    The Wii is no more a threat to the PS3 and 360 than the Toyota Corolla is a threat to the Audi R8 or Mercedes SL.

    If you look at PS3 sales, they are as good as the PS2 - if not better - for the same life period. The Wii appeals to a different market.

    PS I find it funny how on a PS3 article lots of people say "it's only bought for the Blu-ray player" and on a Blu-ray article lots of people say "all those so-called Blu-ray players are actually PS3 owners who don't buy movies". You can't win, can you?

  • Comment number 18.

    So the ex SCEE employee says SCEE are great? Kind of figures doesn't it.

    Plus I'd love to know where Sony are getting their figures from for Xbox 360 units sold. As far as I knew the PS3 was 1 million units behind the 360, which is borne out by the figures shown here:

    http://www.vgchartz.com/

    So how many units do Sony think MS have sold?

  • Comment number 19.

    hyrules,

    Well done for quoting the most unreliable source for console sales there is.

    Good job.

    PS VGChartz' "other" covers every country in the world that is not North America or Japan. SCEE said Europe and only Europe. Do make sure you know what you are talking about before posting....

  • Comment number 20.

    Its great if this is correct, i have a PS3 which is an amazing console, i did have a 360 but traded it in to get a Wii in march, if PS3 has outsold the 360 in europe this is great for the console, PS3 has Blu-Ray, Better Games Libary and no where near as many hardware problems as the 360. My advice is get a PS3 and a Wii, that way you get the PS3's entertainment and great hardcore games and the Wii's gameplay and casual games.

  • Comment number 21.

    Do people not realise that even if consumers are buying the PS3 for Blu-Ray then Sony are still the real winners?

    Sony have a large stake in Blu-Ray, they are in fact one the bigger partners in the Blu-Ray Association. So if people buy the PS3 for Blu-Ray then Sony are making money from Blu-Ray sales, regardless of whether the Producer is Sony Pictures, Warner Bros or Paramount... Sony still get money for every single disc sold.

    Now, on to this "only people I know bought it for Sony". I know loads of people who bought it for Blu-Ray as well, however they are also purchasing games for the children and as well as purchasing the simple, arcade-style games from the PSN Store itself.

    Of the 15 or so people I know, ranging in age from 15 to 55+... they all bought the full version of SuperStardustHD.

    Amazing isn't it? Of all the charts saying COD4, GTA4, FIFA'08 etc... the only title I know of that everyone who I know owns a PS3 actually bought it was SuperStardustHD for £4.99.

    Now take that into contect of production cost and I would say that that game is an absolute profit maker for Sony... if you haven't downloaded the free demo yet then you do not know what you are missing!!!

  • Comment number 22.

    RevolutionBlues,

    I asked a question. Seeing as your post does not answer it then I fail to see the point of it?

    Do you have a public source of sales figures other than vgchartz? If not would you agree that vgchartz indicates that the PS3 is not ahead in Europe just yet?

    Warm regards,

    hyrules

  • Comment number 23.

    hyrules,

    Why would I agree when you are wrong? The VGC figure giving the 360 a million lead is for the ENTIRE WORLD outside of the US and Japan. SCEE said they had a lead in Europe. Spot the difference.

    So VGC (an unreliable source at the best of times) does NOT show the 360 a million ahead in Europe!

    We may not have Sony's source right here and right now, but don't come here bringing a really dodgy source - which doesn't even show what you says it does.

  • Comment number 24.

    RevolutionBlues,

    If you drill down into the reports you'll see that the 360 has around a 300,000 unit lead over the PS3. I know vgchartz isn't the most reliable website but I never said it was.

    My original question was where are Sony getting their figures from for Xbox 360 sales? If they are accurate why are they not telling us exactly how many 360's they think have been sold?

    Also, why are they completely ignoring the Wii? It's still a game console after all said and done.

    The fact that Sony are resorting to such tactics is very revealing and shows that they are very much a company on the back foot. Quite a turnaround from the last gen I'm sure you'd agree.

    Warm regards,

    hyrules

  • Comment number 25.

    If Sony are wrong then where is the rebuttal from Microsoft?
    Big corporations aren't going to lie about retail sales that are easliy verified by auditors and financial analysts alike. THh games industry is so big there is substantial interest with plenty of industy research.

    As for PS3 games sale - in the UK 55% of GTAIV sales were for 360 and 45% for PS3.

    That suggests there are plenty of PS3 owners buying games considering there are currently more 360's in the UK than PS3's.

    Hardly just buying for a blu rayplayer don't you think.



  • Comment number 26.

    It was only a matter of time before this happened! The PS3 is BY FAR the best next gen console - the Wii hardly counts. I have the 60Gig model, and so far 60gig is MORE than enough. I dont think I will need to swap it for a bigger one for a few years yet anyway.
    Microsoft have tried all kinds of money related incentives to out sell PS3 - its financial backing to the movie studio's for HD-DVD, its $50m payment to Rockstar games for downloadable content for GTAIV - and it has still failed to win over all of the worlds gamers.
    The XBox360 is a games console whereas the PS3 is an all round media centre with built in blu-ray player! As much as M$ like to think that downloadable Hi-Def movies is the future, until bit rates and storage devices can be improved, people will stick to movies on a physical media -blu-ray. I mean, blu-ray discs can hold up to a potential 200Gig(4 Layer blu-ray disc is in development), how many of those could you get onto a laptop or desktop PC?! Also, the bit rates, and therefor, quality are nowhere near as good as those on the discs themselves, so why spend all that time downloading a Hi-Def movie for the quality to be poor? I wont be. I, like many others I'm sure, want to have a physical disc of my films so wont be swtching to downloading them anytime soon.
    It wont be long before PS3 reclaims its lead at the top of the console market - it might take a bit longer to overtake the Wii, but thats not a next gen console. SONY know what they are doing when it comes to consoles and have not put a foot wrong since the days of PlayStation1, apart from the treatment of the customers. But the quality of the machine makes up for all of that.
    Remember too that M$ aint that great to their customers either - they all have to pay to play their games on-line after paying for a machine and a game.
    In a couple of years when the 3rd XBox comes out (rumoured for 2010), all of the PS3 owners will be sitting happily on their PS3 knowing that its more future proof than anything else on the market and that they probably wont need to buy a new machine for another few years!

    God I Love my PS3!!!

 

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