I’ve always found these types of reports somewhat baffling. Do we care who has sold how many of what? Or is it just more fuel for the “my console is better than yours” fights?
EA played a role in convincing Microsoft to abandon Sega & go their own route with a Direct-X tv-adapter, the Xbox. In public the ‘small install base’ of the dreamcast was their excuse to not port their titles to it, but they were also just trying to kill it. I wonder if this is a similiar signal that they might shift sides again. I don’t think Xbox in general has ever turned a profit (correct me?), and Satya Nadela doesn’t seem to be into burning money anymore.
Some people prefer to play video games on consoles, due to the ease of “install” (just put the disc in) and the use of a gamepad. In addition, certain styles of games are gamepad-focused and appear first, or only, on consoles.
Because of that, developers will consider overall install base as an indicator for where to focus their coding resources. Large developers typically develop cross-platform, but smaller and mid-size ones tend to focus on one platform, and if the PS4 has twice the install base, that’s twice the potential sales.
There are other factors in play, but overall sales does have an impact for developers.
That makes sense looking at past generations, but with the current hardware being quite compatible these days, for larger titles I’m not sure it really matters anymore. Sure, a game may look prettier on one (probably PS4) than the other, but it’s not like we’re dealing with x86 versus cell processing this time around. Perhaps for exclusives, timed or otherwise, I could see sales factoring in, but past that?
I think we do. Speaking personally as someone who knows nothing about the current-gen consoles but who is toying with the idea of getting one, this article makes me lean towards getting a sony box. At a gut level, I assume that all those millions of consumers must know something if the difference in sales is so pronounced.
In general, “more successful == better” is a flawed but entirely common heuristic that many human beings use. See brands such as Nike that are popular more or less because they are popular. Microsoft understand this and that’s why they’re trying to keep quiet on their relatively poor sales.
We have both the Xbone and the PS4. We use the PS4 for Netflix, watching bluray movies, and Amazon Prime, in addition to playing games. We’d have to shell out $50-80 more a year for a Live membership on top of the service fees for the actual services to do similar things on Xbone, and I don’t even know if the damned thing plays bluerays, because why bother trying? I know the other one does.
The new Kinect works better than the one for 360. I’ll give 'em that much.
Yeah, it can be a very big factor. If you’re a gamer - or a parent - who is on the fence about what system to buy, these numbers definitely, definitely matter. This is because a games console isn’t just a consumer purchase that’s self contained - it’s also an investment into the future.
A larger install base means more games are going to be available for your system throughout it’s lifespan.
If you want a very revealing real-world example, just look at the handheld market. The 3ds, despite having inferior specs, absolutely overshadows the Vita’s pathetic library. Now, you may be able to find a Vita for sale, dirt cheap. However…that doesn’t mean it’s a good deal. Sony has all but abandoned the console, and there is little hope of much quality content being released for it going forward.
To flip the coin, take Minecraft, one of the biggest games in recent history. This all-ages title, which seems like a shoe-in for Nintendo hardware was JUST NOW released on one of their consoles, years after being released on the last-gen ps3 and xbox360.
Sales figures tell the whole story. If you want a console that will actually have games to play on it - you should heavily take them into consideration. No matter how innovative or powerful the hardware is, no one is going to develop for it if no one owns them. Nintendo gets a boost here by having the best 1st party titles by a country mile, but otherwise their current TV-console is pretty barren of games, despite it’s age.
Microsoft and Sony were pretty neck-and-neck last gen, so a lot of development plans went forward, I’d imagine, under the assumption that the stalemate would continue going forward. It remains to be seen, however, how favorable the climate will remain to Microsoft once it’s common knowledge that the ps4 outnumbers the xbone almost 2 to 1. Who would you prioritize if it was your paycheck or investment dollars?
It certainly matters for consoles like the Wii U - the specs are different enough from the other consoles that games for it are going to be developed with it specifically in mind. Or they would, if the poor sales didn’t mean it was basically a dead platform that no one wants to develop for. (There are a handful of games released by Nintendo themselves, but even they seem to have largely given up on it.) That’s less of an issue with the relative ease of releasing games for both Xbox and Playstation, but the disparate install bases could mean that AAA game development is being tailored more towards the hardware set of the Playstation. So game might have better performance/look better on that machine. Maybe. To some degree.
But I’d disagree with the assertion that the low sales of both consoles don’t indicate anything - in previous generations, sales of the new devices were in heavy competition with earlier versions (with the earlier version of a console out-selling the new one for several years). From the statistics I’ve read, that’s not true this generation. The previous console generation was unusually long, so sales had already dropped off significantly before this batch of consoles was released. Combined with the fact that the Wii U isn’t selling at all at this point, it’s only two consoles that are really competing with each other. This doesn’t bode well for the future prospects of AAA games on consoles, given the huge number of sales required to pay back development costs now. It also suggests a decline in console gaming in favor of mobile and PC platforms. (In Japan this is definitely true - traditionally console gamers, they’re now mobile gamers.)
It also helps calculate possible sales revenue for Developers and Publishers.
And as a consumer i’d like to know that my purchase is going to be backed up by plenty of good games.
I agree it matters on the Wii U, but I suspect that has to do more with their schtick than the console itself. I feel like they (Nintendo) did this to themselves this generation by introducing the Gamepad; it’s a neat idea, and some games (ZombiU) had some curious experiments for it, but to leverage the console as designed means necessarily developing JUST for the Wii U, or having to split your development efforts to focus on bringing some “benefit” to the Gamepad that other systems don’t have. And yes, Nintendo does seem to have given up on it. See: Mario Kart 8’s giant horn button.
As for XO and PS4, I guess we’ll see where it goes. I completely understand the longevity comment that @Grim_Beefer made and even agree with it. The original Xbox (what I used to call the Xbox 1) basically ceased releasing games as soon as the 360 came out, whereas the PS2 which was still trucking along quite well kept releasing games until… hell, they’re probably STILL releasing games for it.
Nintendo could produce ports of their back catalogue and support indie / small / arthouse developers and coast for 50 or 60 years maybe? I can only hope they don’t make the same mistakes as Sega. Maybe oddball consoles will come out in the next 5-10 years that defy current expectations. I don’t really understand the industry.
And then there is the current state of the art with PCs and how the consoles are very distant in respect to technical specifications. Maybe we shall see an era like the transition of video games from the arcade to the home, but from consoles to custom-assembled hardware, which at this point is rivalling consoles for affordability.
Yeah, any sort of idiosyncratic hardware pretty much screws with the ability to do multi-platform releases (Kinect has had the same problem). On top of which the Wii sold an enormous number of consoles but hardly any games, so publishers were probably feeling a bit skeptical about developing for the U even before it came out. Not to mention that consumers may have seen the Wii U controllers as tablet gaming on a console and wondered what the point was - the Wii motion controllers made it really easy to imagine what sort of gaming experiences it would provide (even if those imaginings might have been a bit optimistic).
The PS2 was outselling the PS3 for the first couple of years and had significant sales until about a year before the PS4 was introduced, with the last game released for it after the PS4 came out. I suspect Sony has been deliberately trying to avoid having that happen again, though.
In particular, idiosyncratic hardware that nobody seems to quite be able to figure out a decent use for, and so they just shoehorn some random functionality onto it solely to justify it’s existence, or it’s a sort-lived fad that collapses once the novelty wears off. Console history is absolutely littered with dead gimmick peripherals.
There’s two different sorts of hardware idiosyncrasies - different architecture and performance that can make it difficult or impossible to port games to it, and unique input/output schemes, and Wii U suffers from both. But yeah, the unique control/output schemes mean that either you reinvent how you make games, trying to actually make use of the unique qualities by designing games around them (and making it impossible to port them to any other system), where the games are cheaper (you don’t want to risk a AAA budget experimenting, especially for a single platform) and fail a lot (since you don’t have time-tested designs to rely on), or you take games designed for other platforms and half-heartedly try (without expending much money) to give it some feature that makes use of the unique hardware (and is likely pretty superfluous).
The Wii suffered from that to some degree, too, even though the possibilities of the motion control were pretty obvious. A big part of its popularity was that it was also being sold as a fitness machine.
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