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Sony: PS3 Attach Rate For Blockbusters Is Higher
Sony: PS3 Attach Rate For Blockbusters Is Higher
April 14, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander, Christian Nutt

April 14, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander, Christian Nutt
More: Console/PC

Countering recent claims by Microsoft, the game sales performance gap between Sony's PlayStation 3 the Xbox 360 isn't as big as many think, Sony is claiming.

Ahead of an upcoming interview with Sony's Peter Dille, the company has detailed to Gamasutra a series of examples from major blockbusters, from Street Fighter IV to Grand Theft Auto IV.

The statistics are intended to suggest that not only are unit sales fairly similar on both platforms -- but that the PlayStation 3 actually has a higher per-title attach rate.

"If you factor in Xbox 360s longer time in the marketplace and larger install base, Xbox 360 should be selling twice as many software units as PS3 if attach rates were equal -- and that is just not what we are seeing at retail with many multiplatform titles," the company tells Gamasutra.

Sony Vs. Microsoft: Attach Rate Comparisons

According to Sony, as of the beginning of March 2009, the Xbox 360 SKU of Street Fighter IV has only outsold the PS3 version by about 44,000 units thus far -- "that's closer to a 1:1 ratio than a 2:1 ratio," Sony says.

In fact, Sony says its U.S. attach rate for Capcom's blockbuster sequel is better overall: with 402,919 software units sold life to date on the PS3, its attach rate is 5.5 percent, whereas with 446,435 units, the Xbox 360's rate would be only 3.1 percent.

The picture looks even better for PlayStation 3 with Tomb Raider: Underworld, which actually sold more units thus far in the U.S. (136,245) on PS3 than Xbox 360 (108,784) -- spelling an attach rate of 1.9 versus .7 percent, respectively.

The gap wasn't too wide with Ubisoft's Prince of Persia, either, where only 36,000 units separated the Xbox 360 and PS3 in America. The game sold 304,851 units on the Xbox 360 (2.1 percent attach rate) and 268,935 units on the PS3 (3.7 percent).

As for Grand Theft Auto IV, Sony cited the franchise's "rich legacy with the PlayStation brand" to explain its 26.9 percent attach rate versus Xbox 360's 23 percent. However, the Xbox 360 version has still sold 3,362,196 units to date in the U.S., compared to 1,959,798 units for PlayStation 3, according to stats provided to Gamasutra by Sony.

Sony, Microsoft, And Metacritic

Xbox 360 product management director Aaron Greenberg recently talked to Gamasutra about the critical success of the platform's titles: "We have over 130 titles rated over 80 on Metacritic; no other platform even has 100 at that level," he said, following February's NPD results.

But now Sony cites Metacritic data from April 2009's top 10 games on each platform to suggest that at 31 percent, it has a higher percentage of titles scored 80 and up than the Xbox 360, which has 23 percent.

"This means one out of every three PS3 games have an 80+ score, while Xbox 360 has one out of five titles that have garnered 80 + scores," says the company.

Sony also points to Metacritic scores to suggest that the Xbox 360's ratings heyday might be behind it. "Of the top 10 scoring PS3 games on Metacritic, 7 were released in 2008 or 2009."

"On the other hand, most of Xbox 360s top rated software titles were released back in 2006 and 2007, when the console had little to no competition, with Xbox 360 only releasing 4 of its top 10 rated in 2008 or 2009," says Sony.

Finally, the company also says the top PlayStation 3 titles on Metacritic are younger than the top Xbox 360 titles: "The average age of PS3s top 10 games on Metacritic is 9.3 months. Compare that with the average age of Xbox 360s top ten, which averages around 15.7 months."

These numbers provide some interesting counterarguments to recent Microsoft claims, and Gamasutra will be publishing its Peter Dille interview -- providing further background on the stats -- in the near future.

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Matt Ponton
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Percentages are so much fun in marketing. They are so flexible. How many games have Microsoft released on the 360? Sony on the PS3? The percentages don't tell you that. I give credit to Sony for staying in the game considering their stumble out of the gates and their still high-priced system, however for Microsoft to come from where it has from the Xbox market share I have to give credit to them for that.

These two are nearly neck-and-neck, it's just fun sitting on the sidelines and watching the corporate fluff go back and forth.

Mike Lopez
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Good luck distracting people with those self-serving, grasping and cherry-picked numbers, Sony.

If we could just get back down to reality, how is that PS3 price cut coming along by the way?

Matt Ponton
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Just to add a comment specifically in regards to Sony's statement, "But now Sony cites Metacritic data from April 2009's top 10 games on each platform to suggest that at 31 percent, it has a higher percentage of titles scored 80 and up than the Xbox 360, which has 23 percent." This doesn't counter what was said by Microsoft in any way. To go along with what I said earlier, right now on MetaCritic the PS3 has 96 titles that have an 80 or higher on the Metacritic scale. In contrast, Microsoft has 139 titles. Oh, but if Sony has a higher percentage that must mean they have more 80+ rated games, when in reality the higher percentage is because of the lack of games on the system. One reason is the Xbox 360's shelf life providing extra time to increase the library, another is the lower price of the Xbox 360 providing more casual or budget title games than the Playstation 3.

Just trying to breakdown the numbers.

Bruno Dion
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What about they both stop using Metacritic. I don't think it is the most reliable source of information about the quality of a game. Sure, it gives an idea but numerical rating is stupid in general and way too objective. Not that the objectivity is a problem but the fact it is perceived as a truly subjective measure of quality is. Can you really tell me what is the difference between an 8.5 and a 9 ? Your game got a 9 ? Great, did it sell ?

Bob McIntyre
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The one thing I'd point out in Sony's favor is that having a higher percentage of good games is important. It's not as important as Sony wants us to think, but it does matter because it means that buying games for the system is less of a minefield.

But really, Mike and Matt nailed it. It's corporate marketing fluff, and Sony looks desperate because this is clearly cherry-picked data that's been custom-tuned to make the PS3 win. When you start doing that, it's a big red flag that says "I'm trying to look better than I deserve." Like a sprinter saying that his top speed was faster than the other guy's, and that's what counts. The guy who crossed the finish line first doesn't need to tell us what "really counts as a victory," because he actually won.

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These numbers aside the Xbox360 really hasn't killed the competition like it could have. It's nowhere near as dominant as the PS2 was to the Xbox.

Matt Ponton
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I concur, MetaCritic - or more specifically numbered scaled ratings - as a value for quality should be abolished. That's just my opinion.

Kevin Jones
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More proof (if any more were needed), thaat one can use carefully selectd statistics to "prove" anything one wants.

Now if instead of looking at Sony's carefully selected games, we had another look at another set of big 3rd party games in the past year, a fairly diffferent picture emerges:

NPD figures

July 2008

1. 360 NCAA Football 09 - 397,600

5. PS3 NCAA Football 09 - 242,500

August 2008

1. 360 Madden NFL 09 - 1.0 million

2. PS3 Madden NFL 09 - 643,000

(The 360 version continued to chart in Sept, Nov and Dec even as the PS3 version quietly died from the charts)

September 2008

1. 360 Star Wars: Force Unleashed - 610,000

5. PS3 Star Wars: Force Unleashed - 325,000

October 2008

3. 360 Fallout 3 - 375,000

PS3 fallout3 didn't even make the top 10. Plus the 360 version continued to chart in Nov/Dec, while the PS3 version simply disappeared.

November 2008

2. 360 Call of Duty: World at War - 1.41 million

6. PS3 Call of Duty: World at War - 597,000

(That's a ratio of 2.3:1 in favour of the 360, and the 360 version continued to sell much better in the subsequent months as well)

360 Guitar Hero World Tour - 191,049

PS3 Guitar Hero World Tour - 96,657

December 2008

2. 360 Call of Duty: World at War - 1.33 million

9. PS3 Call of Duty: World at War - 533,000

The 360 easily smokes the PS3 in big 3rd party games, with lots of room left to go have a ciger.

Matt Ponton
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You also need to factor in the following for Tomb Raider: Underworld and Street Fighter IV.

Street Fighter IV is a very niche market. Granted, they tried making it more accessible in this one, but most of the sales I'm sure would come from the hardcore fighting game competitors. A good chunk of those participate in grassroots tournaments where for the past generation was consistently using PlayStation 2s for their tournaments. Many of those have PlayStation 2 designed arcade sticks and with the PlayStation 3 having an easier method to use DualShock 2 controllers or sticks it can appear obvious as to why the numbers aren't in a 2:1 ratio. That and those who don't use sticks are used to the PS3's Directional Pad over the Xbox 360's.

Tomb Raider: Underworld. I don't have the data with me but what was TRU going up against on the 360? on the PS3? when it launched.

Kevin Jones
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@ Matt Ponton : " I concur, MetaCritic - or more specifically numbered scaled ratings - as a value for quality should be abolished "

Why the heck is that?

Your own favourite games on the Wii score crap ratings on MetaCritic so therefore MetaCritic should be banned?

What is this?

Communist North Korea or the Ayatoulah's Iran?

You can't be about banning stuff because you don't like what they say can you?

MetaCritic gives us an average of all the ratings from all the top gaming publications. The affectively removes any inbuilt bias from any particular games reviewer. For what it's worth, its the best indication of games quality we have, and on the 360/PS3, higher MetaCritic scores usually mean higher sales.

The Wii crowd is another matter altogether. They will buy crap like Carnival Games and other cobbed together Nintendo mini-game collections anyway, high scores or not.

Matt Ponton
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Perhaps I typed my thought incorrectly. It's not that I have a disdain for MetaCritic, but for the current number scored review system. I just don't see how a numerical objective value can be attached to a subjective experience. I don't see an inherent value over saying a game is 0.5% better than another. Please, tell me what exactly Uncharted is missing in its quality to cause it to have 7% less than LittleBigPlanet (which has an average rating of 95% on MetaCritic). Where exactly is that 5%?

In addition, Metacritic doesn't take into effect what each reviewer's "Rating Scale" means. Some say a "Give it a Rent" means 80%, others say 70%, and some can't give a 79.5% rating because they only have their rating in multiples of 20% (# out of 5 for example).

I would not go so far as to say "... its the best indication of games quality we have," but would say it's certainly the most popular.

Ben Rice
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This paints a fairly colorful picture for me.

The 360 is doing fairly strongly with multi platform titles, and it's steam there seems to be staying strong.

However, looking at the announced lineup for 2009, the 360's offering seems ho-hum after you remove all multi platform titles.

The PS3 on the other hand seems to have many newer, fresher IPs which score fairly high. In the long run (Sony likes their 10 year console cycles) this could easily be a turning point for Sony after their clumsy launch.

Evan Skolnick
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"MetaCritic gives us an average of all the ratings from all the top gaming publications. The affectively removes any inbuilt bias from any particular games reviewer."

Actually, no, Metacritic (owned by CNET, the same company that owns Gamespot) injects its own bias into its scores, by weighting some reviewers' scores more heavily than others to reach a mysterious "Metascore". They also don't reveal exactly what that formula is.

From Metacritic: "The METASCORE is considered a weighted average because we assign more significance, or weight, to some critics and publications than we do to others, based on the overall stature and quality of those critics and publications."

If you're looking for an actual average of game review scores, you want (also owned by CNET). :-)

Bob McIntyre
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Ben, I think that Sony can turn it around. The cross-platform titles on 360/PS3 are usually almost identical. The PS3, because of the guaranteed HDD and the space on the Blu-Ray format, has greater potential as pure hardware. To turn it around, they do have to play catch-up after their horrible launch and subsequent lack of momentum. I agree that their exclusives are better, in general, and that this is a good asset if they can leverage it. But they really need to think about how they relate to the public.

Kevin Jones
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Evan Skolnick

"Actually, no, Metacritic (owned by CNET, the same company that owns Gamespot) injects its own bias into its scores, by weighting some reviewers' scores more heavily than others to "

Don't see anything wrong with that.

Not all publications are the same. That's like saying the New York Times should be rated at the same level as some village newspaper in Montana.

For example, if you were to start your own gaming site today, that no one has ever heard of before, and you started doing games reviews, you are not going to be expecting you scores to be rated at the same level as say IGN are you?

You gotta earn a good track record and build up a solid reputation, then build up the weight your scores carry. It's like any other thing in life. Reputations have to be earned.

"If you're looking for an actual average of game review scores, you want "

The differences between Gamerankings and Metacritic average scores don't tend to be anything to write home about. They tend to be pretty close.

Evan Skolnick
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@ Kevin:

Nope, I don't see anything wrong with it. I was just pointing out that Metacritic doesn't use a strict average, while gamerankings does. And you're right, the scores do tend to be pretty similar. :-)

Kevin Potter
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This does not constitute news; this is disingenuous PR misdirection that no human being ought ever be subjected to.

Jason Hales
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I would have to say this is information put out there not for the FANS but for business, it shows company's like EA and Ubisoft for example that yes the PS3 games are sellilng well, so don't fear to put your game over on the PS3. Because for how well the xbox 360 has sold so many consoles compared to PS3, it still doesn't blow out the PS3 on games being sold. PS3 can sell your game just as good as the xbox 360, so yes the xbox 360 has more games, but it also has been out longer, sony has had a bumpy rode but overall they can sell a game just as good as the xbox. Isn't that what matters, the system will keep doing well, the price will drop and it will keep selling. The exclusives that sony has coming this year look great, God of War 3, uncharted 2 and inFamouse look really good for Sony this year.

Also what HOME is doing for sony is great, xi is such a great game to play and interesting.

So maybe all this Metacritic stuff doesn't really matter so much, but for me it shows that yes you can put your game here on the PS3 and it will sell just as good as the xbox 360, even if we have less consoles out there, we are selling the games still. So what that we don't very many titles, oh guess what that means, you don't have to compete with as many games. If I owned a game company, I would be looking at that as a good thing, hey not only does sony sell games but there is room for my game to sell on the console.

Vladimir Neskovic
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And mine philosophical :) 5 cents.

It seems like lots of "creative" statistics from MS and Sony marketing. Their employees just have to interpret the reality in such manner in order to look better then the competition. At the end it is a lose-lose situation for both since we end as puzzled customers surrounded by plethora of different realities. The game that Sony and MS are playing reminds me strongly on the prisoner's dilemma ('s_dilemma) from the game theory.

Unfortunately for all (them and the customers), when having similarly "strong" players the only strategy to choose is the non-cooperative one. I said unfortunately because of the infinite possibilities for those people in marketing to show their company in better light then the competition. I will use a metaphor picture this:

Imagine a room/space with no gravity where almost the same number (red and blue) almost same sized balls are floating into such space. In practice (and also in theory) there are infinite number of locations in that space (and time) from where you will be able to see more blue then red balls (and vice versa). And this is the job for the creative statisticians. To show us as much as possible such locations, where we will see more of THE company balls. And presenting more and more such points to the public the lose(Sony)-lose(MS)-lose(3rd party developers)-lose(their customers) "index" is getting bigger day after day. It seems like the only winner in such game is Nintendo (who's balls are much smaller :)