So the November NPDs have come in and the results have some interesting implications and give a bit of a clearer picture of what each company’s current strategy is. Sony certainly coveted North America enough to secure the top spot but have resigned themselves to demand outstripping supply so they could take the rest of the world as well. Microsoft clearly has designs on not letting the United States slip away and have flooded retail since the launch. It wasn’t good enough to catch up in November, giving the PS4 a solid 200k+ lead going into December but with the Xbox One available nearly everywhere and the PS4 available almost nowhere it’s hard to believe that Sony will be the victor in December in North America. I think this should also put to rest the rumor that many people believed, myself included, that MS was having yield issues. Their console output has been extremely strong.
Both of these strategies make sense to me. Microsoft wants to sell services and they are going to do sell a helluva lot more NFL subscriptions in the US than it is in Taiwan. Sony is games-games-game, a message that resonates world-wide, and they want to get their foot in the door EVERYWHERE. I expect we will get Sony’s next world-wide total after their launch in Asia which should see them sell out the allotted 500k in the first day or two. This number will show a pretty strong lead for the PS4 around the globe.
But as I said before, I personally expect Microsoft to take NA in December. Some will point to NA even being close as a loss for Microsoft, but I tend to think of each generation as a reset – past performance does not mean you are guaranteed future success. The PS2 was the best-selling console of all time. The PS3 struggled mightily for years. It being basically a tie in NA at new years, with strong sales for both consoles, is good for everyone involved. Competition will ensure there isn’t complacency.
I don’t think Microsoft is out of the woods yet though. Demand for the PS4 is obviously outstripping supply. Supply will catch up, there’s no doubt about that – the question is when. And if Microsoft, who has basically decided that their entire ballgame is NA and the UK, start falling behind in those markets plus being outright dominated world-wide… they will have to spend A LOT of money to get developers on board for exclusives. That’s a big if though. I personally don’t see Microsoft trying to win consoles sold as much as they are trying to win money-made. Their focus on the US and UK may make them seem far behind but if people are buying games in those territories and buying XBLG, buying TV/Movies/NFL/etc…. I think MS will be perfectly happy. There is room in the market for both of these approaches and as of now it seems fairly even. Sony will take a strong lead in world-wide sales but I don’t think Microsoft is scrambling. Yet.
In other news, the Wii U is going to have to go FULL VITA and carve a niche and hope that niche can keep it afloat. The numbers weren’t as bad as Pachter predicted but they were about 1/3 of the Xbox 360. Mario did not save the Wii U. Personally I’d love to see it become the “HD remake Machine” and play upressed classics which would be cheap for them and possibly move some units. The 3DS is doing OK in North America but it’s pretty clear the west just does not care about handhelds like they used to. The Vita is holding on for dear life. The numbers are not good. They are, in fact, awful. But strong digital software sales will keep Sony supporting it for the foreseeable future. While the world at large waits for the Vita to die… everyone I talk to at Sony say they still have long-term plans for the device that haven’t deviated at all. Hopefully the Wii U can find a similar space where they can make some money without having a huge install base.