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Thursday, 04 January 2007 16:00

European PS3 success is assured, despite Wii and Xbox 360 success

An article from the UK’s The Guardian newspaper is questioning how well the PS3 will do in Europe when it finally launches there in March, citing the difficulties Sony has with stock levels and plummeting prices on eBay after the initial PS3 ‘land grab’. But there should be no question - the PS3 will sell out in Europe, too.

If you read through the PS3 article at The Guardian on ‘How will the PS3 fare when it gets to Europe?’, you’ll read a synopsis of the current state of play when it comes to who sold what, stock levels and soaring eBay prices which started going down after a week or so of highly inflated PS3 pricing.

We read of the Wii’s success in Japan compared with PS3 and Xbox 360 sales, and we’re also told that the PS2 is the games console that sold the most units this Christmas just passed. But there seems to be some doubt over how well the PS3 will do in Europe once it launches.

To this, I say, let’s face facts: the PS3 sold out in the US and Japan – Sony sold every unit they could ship. Prices for PS3s on eBay would naturally go up in the first week or two after units sold out, but as time went on with so many PS3’s for sale on eBay, Christmas getting closer and then passing, and new stock in Best Buy and other stores on shelves and already purchased earlier this week, it’s no surprise that any PS3 still on eBay wouldn’t now be selling at anywhere the doubling or tripling of prices in the day of launch and for a week or two thereafter.

While the Wii has undoubtedly caught the eye of many people, including a whole new market of previous non-gamers, Nintendo had around four times the stock available, and Microsoft, with their own stock problems eliminated, found themselves in the happy position of having sold the most next-generation consoles despite the sales of all those PS3s and Wiis.

Sure, some people might have purchased a Wii or PS3 instead of an Xbox 360 if one was available, but I’ll bet most of those Xbox 360 owners are very happy with their games consoles and the widest range of next-gen titles to choose from.

Of course, as we’ve already explored, it’s Sony with the PS2 that sold the most consoles and who enjoys the largest catalogue of games available for any games console platform.

It seems likely that Sony won’t have solved all of its production problems by March this year, and will start off with limited stocks in Europe, the Middle East and Australia. Let’s not forget that they still have to keep on supplying the US and Japan in the meantime.

With the PS3 an unquestionably amazing next-generation console in its own right, more than taking the fight to the Xbox 360 and the Wii, Sony will sell every PS3 they make this year without problems. The same can be said of the Wii.

However, given that almost 10 million Xbox 360s have already been sold, there’s actually no guarantee that Microsoft will sell every Xbox 360 that they make. Nevertheless, they’ll still sell millions of consoles this year and will be pulling out all the stops this year to maximize their return from their entire Xbox investment. Perhaps we’ll see the Xbox 360 update that has been rumoured, with a larger hard drive of 100Gb and a built-in HD DVD drive along with other updates. The PS2 had a similar kind of update in Japan when it was transformed into the hard drive equipped PSX, so there’s a clear precedent for this to happen with an Xbox 360 update, while retaining complete compatibility with the existing Xbox 360 platform.

Please read on to page 2 for the conclusion...

By Christmas, but probably not before thanks to the high cost of manufacturing the PS3, we should see a price drop as Sony push the PS3 as never before with a lineup of new games that really start tapping into the PS3’s power, especially so to compete with the no doubt incredible games lineups that Microsoft and Nintendo have planned for us all. Perhaps we’ll even see a slimmer PS3 will appear by next Christmas – Sony have pulled that rabbit out of the hat before with the slimmer PS2, with great success, while the Wii has DVD and HD rumors of its own to contend with.

We’ll also see more cross platform titles than ever. The Lego Star Wars II is available on almost every console, including the PSP and the older Nintendo GameCube, although it isn’t available on the Nintendo DS. There’s no reason to limit one’s income to one group of users, especially if a title readily lends itself to being shipped for multiple platforms as the Lego Star Wars II game so clearly is.

And as for next-generation DVDs, while a dual Blu-ray and HD DVD deck will come out soon and is set to be launched at next week’s CES show at last, thanks to LG, Blu-ray still has the most movie studios behind it, so in the short term at least, should end up with the most titles, unless something radical happens in the HD DVD world and the other studios sign up.

LG have not released any prices as yet, and as a version one unit, it’s unlikely to be cheap, making the PS3 the cheapest next-gen DVD player – all you need is an HD television, and chances are, if you’re buying a PS3, you either already have an HDTV or are planning to very shortly get one.

So, I don’t think Sony needs to worry about having any stock languishing in warehouses this time next year. All three games console manufacturers are set for the most amazing year that they, you, me, everyday consumers and hardcore gamers have ever seen.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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