Microsoft’s on top

Microsoft, in the Xbox 360, have made the games platform for the keen gamer. It has the biggest catalogue of games this generation by some margin and Live has overwhelming superiority to any other gaming portal, and continues to get even better. The keenness of these Xbox 360 owners is reflected in the very high attach rate for 360 games. And is one reason why the Xbox division of Microsoft is now profitable.

Knowing this it perhaps should not have come as a surprise that Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is selling nearly as many (48%) on the Xbox 360 in the UK as it is on all other platforms put together. And when you consider that those other platforms are the Sony PS2, the PS3, the PSP, the Nintendo Wii and the DS that is mightily impressive.

It is this sort of selling performance that makes the Xbox 360 the favourite platform for game developers. And it is why Sony PS3 exclusives are dying out, your 360 sku of a game is going to sell a lot more than your PS3 sku. Soon only first party Sony games will be platform exclusives. And remember that not only are your Xbox 360 skus going to sell more, they are also going to be quicker, cheaper and easier to develop. The Xbox 360 has become the win win platform for game developers.

Microsoft was winning the HD platform war before the price drop. So the floodgates that have opened since this announcement are just going to put it even further ahead. And having conquered the market for keen gamers it now has its eye on the casual and family markets. With the thought and strategy and money that Microsoft are putting into this I cannot see it losing.


  1. Don’t forget to mention how XNA is helping to get hobbyists and small developers into developing for the XBox360. While such games do not compare with the titles developed by traditional studios, these other titles also add value to the 360, as well as bring in even more developers that would want to work with this platform. In fact, it was XNA that got me to buy the console itself, as a means for me to start experimenting with console development.

  2. Come on, Bruce. You have claimed a market segment called “keen gamers” and declared Microsoft the winner of that segment. I think I will claim a segment called “discriminating gamers” and declare Sony the winner of that segment. And how about the “pseudo gamers” segment where Nintendo is the winner. Then, of course, there is the “hyper gamers” segment where the PC dominates.

  3. @Evan…What’s wrong with that? In truth, there are hardcore and casual gamers if we want to divide in up. Casual gamers are satisfied with the Wii as can be seen in their incredible profits. For the rest of us heavily involved in the gaming industry and who want to play competitively or to see some serious complex games, the 360 has been the best way to go, as Bruce said in this article. You correctly told us what Bruce did in the article, but failed to say why that is wrong in your opinion..

  4. @Dan … There is not a thing wrong with recognizing that different people select gaming systems for lots of different reasons. I simply found the market segment of “keen gamers” funny because it exists only on this blog. If by “keen gamers” Bruce means hardcore (or HD platform) gamers, then no objective observer would pronounce that Microsoft has “conquered” that segment. The 360 is a good console, but the battle for the HD platform segment is still in its infancy.

  5. The description of Xbox Live is pretty wide of the mark, unless you’re ignoring the PC. There are literally hundreds of millions more people playing online games on the PC now than have ever logged into Xbox Live (let alone paid the hidden fee levied by Microsoft to enable actual online play).

    On the other point, looking at the platform breakdown of high profile games like Call of Duty 4, GTA4 and DMC4 shows that the PS3 is steadily encroaching on the 360 in Europe and increasingly in the US. The Star Wars numbers just show (if proof were needed) that there are a lot of undiscerning gamers in the UK, many of whom have 360s.

  6. I see your point Dan. I think Bruce is being nice to Nintendo fans. Maybe he just don’t want to say hardcore with HD machines, because many Nintendo fans are hardcore. I would not say it is in it’s infancy. Two years is 40% of a console cycle regardless of if it stays around after the next generation comes around. Not many people, and even less developers cares about the ps2, gamecube race. There is a new race going on. My point is the same attitude will be around when the next generation starts(no one will care about ps3 and wii and 360). The entry price for a ps3 is still $100 above all previous new machine prices, and it has been out for 2 years. You can now have a 360 for 199 and a hard drive for $24.99 if you look just a little. By far most developers are developing for xbox360 first. Even square enix is putting two exclusives on the 360 in the usa but NONE for PS3!!! That is saying something (and yes one of the ffxiii is ps3 exclusive IN JAPAN only) But two exclusives for 360? One of them the next star ocean? I think it is not totally over, but starting to look like one of those sports games where a blow out is developing. If Sony can drop the price a $100 this year they will be back in the fight. But still $100 higher than the competition, because that will put them at 299.

  7. Please.
    Check out US sales, you’ll see that the PS3 and the Xbox 360 are in a close fight.
    In Europe, the PS3 dominates, and same in Japan, with a few blips being the super sellers, acquired with massive amounts of money. Same amounts spent to actually advertise these games (so how much does that make in terms of clean revenue in the end?).

    Counting all the issues the PS3 has and still encounters, the price, the year late take off and the fact that Sony is down the curve as it has a series of hits about to come out, I don’t see how one could reasonably write the PS3 off.

    The Xbox 360 has plenty of good arguments, but your conclusion is hasty and flawed.

  8. Uh Stone you do realize that Sony includes Africa, Russia, and another country that is NOT part of Europe in the European sales totals. That is the ONLY reason that they lead, because those are NOT just Europe numbers. Where as Microsoft just includes European numbers for Europe.

  9. I’m looking at EU’s major electronic savvy countries, case by case, precisely leaving Middle East, Russia and Africa out, plus some other eastern EU countries.
    Combined, the PS3 still had a clear lead over the 360 in most of them safe in UK (before 360’s large price cut), having tastes mirroring those of the US to a great extent, where the PS3 and 360 were even. From what I remember and other stuff I also kept on the HDD, some other EU countries, like Switzerland, Belgium and Netherlands had the PS3 leading as well (on sales, not shipping).
    A bit late, but still good to know, Switzerland’s 2008 Q2 sales for example:

    There’s also the type of exclusive games you get on the PS3. Don’t get me wrong, the 360 has the most extensive and rich catalog for the moment, but Sony’s console has games which feel less like typical Yankee stuff. Call that posh or artsy, that’s what they seemed headed for since the beginning anyway.
    Plus there’s no subscription for games nor movies, which makes a difference in the overall price. That’s without counting the failure rates and the possibility of people not wanting refurbished consoles after a RRoD, or simply not having the patience to wait for many weeks, say months.

    So, there’s lots of pros and cons, but there’s obviously a PS3 doing well despite all those elements holding it back.

    Besides, let’s keep an eye on the TGS and see what Sony will announce, they have a total of 9 first party games for the PS3.
    Plus Afrika is planned for Europe in early 2009.

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