Another Day, Another Dollar!
Welcome to Armchair Analysis, with your humble host, Peter Skerritt. This ongoing feature will discuss console video game industry sales news,
trends, and data. While full NPD data access is limited, "armchair analysts"
such as myself are able to pull data from reliable sources and draw conclusions
based on recent trends, existing data, and industry experience. Personally, I've
been covering NPD analysis for nearly four years. I got my start writing about
the numbers back in the summer of 2008, and have had stops at a couple of
different websites before happily landing here to share my analysis with you.
Full disclosure: while I do have a fair amount of experience in the
prediction and numbers game, I'm not a professional analyst;
therefore, any conclusions and observations that I make are mine alone and do
not necessarily reflect those of Popzara Press, its writers, or other editorial
staff. I call things as I see them, and I leave the decision of credibility to
you - the readers - to determine.
Having said all of that, it's time to look at my hardware sales expectations
for April 2012:
With April being a weak month for significant new software releases (Kinect
Star Wars, The Witcher 2), there were few drivers to get consumers looking into
buying new consoles. It's fair to argue that Kinect Star Wars may be a hardware
driver by itself, but Microsoft needs to have moved nearly 300,000 Xbox 360
units to break even with last year's number. I just don't see that happening. I
think we could see another month of more than 10% YOY (Year Over Year) declines
for Xbox 360 hardware and this would extend Microsoft's losing streak in this
stat to five straight months. Microsoft can take solace in the prediction that
the Xbox 360 will likely once again be the best-selling hardware platform, but
there's increasing confidence that Microsoft is starting to see its bubble
leaking a bit of air.
Sony has a smaller YOY target to hit for the PlayStation 3 - about 200,000
units or so - but the lack of new software hurts in this case, too. A temporary
price cut for the PS3 late in April may help move some units, and I think that
helps YOY comparisons stay reasonable. A similar YOY number to last month (about
-9%) sounds about right. The Wii is in the same boat as the PS3. The YOY target
of 172,000 units is attainable, although the pull of Xenoblade Chronicles is
hard to read in terms of how it will equate to moving hardware.
Turning to portables, the PlayStation Vita has been an interesting case so
far. Over 400,000 units sold in the platform's first six weeks on the market,
but there is fear that interest is waning and that April numbers could be quite
low. New games have been slow in coming for Sony's PSP successor, and this isn't
helping to motivate consumers to buy in. The big question to be answered will
pertain to how far sales will fall. Anything less than 125,000 units would be
troubling, and if that number dips below 100,000, fear escalates. The Nintendo
3DS isn't setting the United States on fire, either. After moving a little less
than 200,000 units last April, Nintendo will be hard-pressed to match that
number this year. Pricing has been flat and new game releases have been rare.
(Yes, there's a bit of a theme here.) In order for handhelds to break even with
last year's totals, over 450,000 combined units of 3DS, Vita, DS, and PSP would
have to sell. I really don't think that happens.
Here are my projected hardware sales rankings for the month of April 2012:
01. Xbox 360
02. PlayStation 3
03. Nintendo 3DS
04. Nintendo Wii
05. PlayStation Vita
We'll see how these rankings and predictions bear out when The NPD Group releases its
April sales data in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime, I invite you to jump
into the analyst role and leave your own predictions for what the NPD numbers
might reveal for April in the comments below, and feedback or questions are
always welcome at the Armchair Analysis inbox at
email@example.com or on my busy Twitter feed right