Despite layoffs in some local development studios it seems Australian consumers are still hungry for more interactive entertainment.
Whilst Nintendo remains somewhat less vocal on the whole hardware sales subject, instead saving its breath for a full-on onslaught of the Wii U when it arrives this year, Microsoft and Sony were quick to beat chests and point out the success's had during 2011, manipulating sales numbers provided by independent company NPD into positive spin.
For example, Microsoft announced that it was 'the only platform to show growth in a contracted Australian market during the 2011 calendar year. Microsoft's Xbox 360 bucked the industry trend with more than 5% platform revenue growth during that period.'
Basically Microsoft made even more money from its Xbox 360 platform, but did that actually translate to sales, or simply that people spent more online via Xbox LIVE and perhaps on games themselves? Well, according to Microsoft, hardware still sold through pretty well: 's, Xbox 360 was the number one selling console during the important Christmas sales period in 2011, and December 2011 was Xbox's highest selling month on record. The period also marks five years of consecutive growth in the Australian market, both in console unit and platform revenue growth - the only console to do so in Australia.'
'Furthermore,' continues the Microsoft blurb'globally Xbox 360 ended the 2011 calendar year as the world's best-selling current generation console.'
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Michael Ephraim, Managing Director, Sony Computer Entertainment Australia said: 'Despite a very eventful year, these results signal the PlayStation platform's leadership position in the interactive games category in Australia. The uplift on PS3 sales was no small feat, in fact, our percentage year-on-year unit growth was triple that of our nearest competitor. In 2012, we plan to further drive this position through our commitment to what PlayStation does best - delivering our customers quality, immersive entertainment experiences that set the benchmark for others to follow. This vision is both in the home, and very soon, on the go with PlayStation Vita which launches on February 23.'
The PS3 now has a device footprint in Australia of almost 1.5 million consoles with many people enjoying the convenience of a high definition entertainment solution that offers the choice of Blu-ray disc capability, side-by-side with access to digital services and content. While NPD data tracks physical retail sales, Sony Computer Entertainment Australia also achieved year-on-year growth in online revenues across the PlayStation®Network, which provides a comprehensive digital entertainment ecosystem of games, TV, movie and music content.
Ephraim continued: 'We are leaders in interactive home entertainment. Now, there is a portable step-change coming. This year, PS Vita will provide the gold standard for customers who are seeking connected, uncompromised, immersive portable games experiences. When you look at the kind of gameplay possible with titles such as Uncharted, mobile devices just can't deliver the breadth and depth of games experience that PS Vita can. Plus there's Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity and integration of popular social apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype, which customers expect from a portable device.'
The counter punch was delivered by David McLean, Director, Consumer Channels Group, Microsoft 'It's clear to see that the momentum in this industry is with Microsoft and the Xbox platform. We won at the telling Christmas period, we are standalone in our growth this year and looking at the past five years our consistency is unprecedented. We can attribute this to Xbox's diversity - we have something truly unique with Kinect, a lineup of blockbuster titles and a complete entertainment offering with movies, music and television on Xbox LIVE.'
Microsoft also saw its online subscriptions for Xbox LIVE grow nearly 40% in the 2011 calendar year showing that even more people are taking advantage of Xbox 360's online services and partnerships, including FOXTEL on Xbox 360, Zune Movies and Music, SBS ON DEMAND, ninemsn video, YouTube, ABC iview and Dailymotion.
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'Xbox 360 is the only console with Kinect and therefore the only way that people can use gesture and voice command to control their television experiences. Those things, combined with local content and blockbuster titles keep us relevant to consumers.'
For its part Nintendo reinforced the successes of the 3DS portable hand-held gaming platform (released in March 2011), reaching 200,000 units sold faster than any previous gaming console ever sold. By year's end the 3DS was in 255,000 Aussie homes.
Even with a new version on the horizon, the ever popular Nintendo Wii went home to 300,000 new Australian house-holds. A Wii now resides in 1 in every 3 Australian family home, a total of 2.4 million.
Whilst things might be a bit iffy being in game development in this country, depending on what platform your company is working on (it does remain lucrative to be part of the iOS and mobile development crowd ) one thing is sure, Australian consumers are happy to lap up interactive entertainment in increasing amounts.