Console sales

I had an argument today where a kid at work was spouting the near-complete repertoire of game console myths. Here is an annotated list of facts:

Microsoft lost at least $4 billion on the original Xbox (not $2 billion as many claim).

Microsoft has rather consistently sold just south of 2 million Xbox 360 units a quarter, every quarter since its release. (I believe they might just barely break 2 million units this quarter.)

November sales worldwide:

  1. 664,000 Playstation 2
  2. 511,000 Microsoft Xbox360
  3. 476,000 Nintendo Wii (scarce)
  4. 197,000 Sony Playstation 3 (scarce)

Yes, that’s right, the Playstation 2, though six years old, is still the #1 selling console worldwide. Also the Wii has almost caught the Xbox 360 even though it was not available in Japan or Europe and for only 11 days in the United States and Canada!

Microsoft had expected the Xbox 360 to be profitable by mid 2007, but that is behind schedule and they won’t turn a profit until 2008.

[Reasons why after the jump.]

I’m not trying to be a dick here. The Xbox 360 is a much better console than I expected, and Microsoft shows they learned a lot from the Xbox release (non-commodity chips, removed hard drive) but…

I’m sick of people saying what a great success the Xbox was. It was a failure by every metric and it failed to springboard its sequel sales.

I’m sick of people saying the Xbox 360 is going to dominate next generation consoles. The only thing “dominating” next gen sales is the Wii, which will, in it’s first (half) quarter of release, probably beat the best Xbox 360 quarter to date (currently 1.8 million units)—after all, it just sold 50,000 units in 12 hours in the UK. Oh yeah, did I mention that the Wii was profitable at launch, not two years after launch?

As for future domination, I guess we’ll have to see the numbers on the Xbox 360 HD DVD player. (Currently the numbers of HD DVD and Blu-Ray are so anemic that the winner is neither.)

4 thoughts on “Console sales

  1. Microsoft doesn’t need to make money on the consoles. Microsoft wants to make it’s money on game licensing & online content/services. The first xbox was a success in that it sold 25% of what PS2 sales were. That doesn’t sound good at first until you realize what it did for Microsoft. Game sales and online subscriptions made them decent money and it got their foot in the door against the Sony giant.

  2. Which part of these FACTS did you miss?: Microsoft lost $4 billion dollars lost on the Xbox. The Xbox, Xbox 360, games and licensing (altogether) will not profitable until 2008 at the earliest.

    You are looking at details when the facts I link trump your argument.

  3. According to VGCharts, sales to date:

    XBox360: 7.9 million
    Wii: 3.54 million
    PS3: 1.21 million.

    If this is accurate, we can guess the following:
    – The Xbox360 may have barely broken 2 million consoles this quarter their best quarter to date by 200,000 units.
    – The Wii, with half of the Xbox360’s worldwide cumulative total in just a little over a month of sales is a breakout hit. It may have outsold the Playstation2, marking the first quarter in years that Sony sold less consoles.
    – The PS3 did make their 1 million consoles by the end of the year target, just barely.

    When people saw Sony tripping, everyone assumed that Microsoft would pick up the slack, but my point was if you look at the facts, instead of hype, you could see it was Nintendo that was positioned to take advantage of it.

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