Microsoft, Nintendo, EA
So how do Microsoft and Nintendo feel about these new developments? Nintendo’s official response to our inquries was brief: “Wii is on track to ship in Q4, Nintendo plans to ship 6 million systems to retailers around the world between its launch in the fourth quarter of 2006 and the end of its fiscal year on March 31, 2007.” Microsoft’s official response more directly took a stab at Sony’s predicament: “We know how challenging it is to pull off a global launch, particularly with unproven technology, so it's not surprising that Sony has backed away from their previously announced launch plans. Europe remains a priority for us and that is why gamers have been able to experience Xbox 360 from day 1 and why we're confident we're going to have a great holiday, regardless of what competitors are or are not in the market. Xbox 360 will have over 160 high-definition games including Viva Pińata from Rare, Gears of War from Epic, Pro Evolution Soccer 6 from Konami and FIFA 2007 from EA, a robust and continuously growing online gaming community in Xbox Live, fantastic entertainment capabilities, optional HD-DVD movie playback capability and a great-value price.”
FiringSquad also sent inquiries to publishers Electronic Arts, Activision, Sega and UbiSoft to get their official responses on Wednesday’s development. All of them have PS3 launch titles scheduled for this fall. Only EA responded back to us by the time this feature was posted: “While this is disappointing news for European consumers who were anticipating the arrival of the PS3 this year, Sony should still have opportunity for a strong launch next year in Europe. EA will have a great portfolio of games ready when the console arrives in Europe. We look forward to bringing our PS3 line up to gamers in the region next March.” EA did not respond to a follow up asking if the small launch unit numbers in the US will affect their sales.
FiringSquad also contacted other game developers to get their feelings on the PS3 delay in Europe and the unit shortfall in the US and Japan. One well known developer, who wished to remain anonymous for our article, told us, “This isn't a surprise; anyone who is surprised by this has had their head up their ass for the last 9 months. Sony has been behind for a long time. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if there is another, even worse announcement made later in the year. It will hurt the games biz; sales will be down in the very crucial (fourth quarter). The 360/DS/WII markets won't make up the difference. This will affect game scheduled to ship 6,9,12, even 18 months from then, as profits from that (quarter) that would have been spent on new games won't be there. It will have cascading effects into TV sales and HDTV penetration will slow.”
Alex Cruz, the president of Maxum Games, told us, “There will be one group who will be ecstatic on Nov 17th. – Ebay sellers. This low number of units will promote an exclusivity club of elite PS3 owners. The ones who can afford the $700 cost plus the $500 Ebay mark up will mostly receive these units and no one else. This might cause a sense of snobbery regarding the PS3 which will not be good. When the last three consoles came out, their price points where not as significantly different as this generation. People are going to feel an even stronger loyalty to the system and games they can afford. However ugly, the owners of low cost systems will be teased by the owners with the highest price system. This may cause resentment and distaste for the PS3 they cannot afford nor obtain. Sony may not recover and will probably lose the number one console spot not because of limited supply but because of alienation. ‘Hey, there goes that bastard driving away in his new PS3.’”
Cruz added, “On the developer side, less PS3 units means a smaller install base. A smaller install base means less profit for an exclusive title. This announcement will only hurt Sony’s relations with publishers and developers. They are all now reconsidering how much resources shall they devote to the estranged PS3. The industry may recover in the next couple of years when console prices level out and innovative solutions are presented to aid in the complexities of next-gen development.”