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Analyst: September PS3 And Wii Sales See Double-Digit Percentage Declines
Analyst: September PS3 And Wii Sales See Double-Digit Percentage Declines
October 15, 2010 | By Kris Graft

October 15, 2010 | By Kris Graft
More: Console/PC

As NPD Group tightens the lid on the hardware sales figures in its public monthly reports, Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter offered up some of the missing data in a post-NPD research note on Friday.

At U.S. retail during September, Pachter said PlayStation 3 sales were down 37 percent year-on-year to 312,000 units. The console had a challenging comparison to September 2009, when Sony cut the price of the console and introduced a slimmer version of the machine.

Pachter had expected the PS3 to sell 275,000 units during September, but the recent release of the motion-sensing PlayStation Move controller and the August introduction of the 160GB version of the system contributed to the higher-than-estimated sales, he said.

Wii sales dropped by 45 percent year-over-year to 254,000 units for the month. "The Wii continues to struggle due to gamer fatigue and a lack of high-profile releases," said the analyst.

Microsoft openly touted its Xbox 360 September sales figures, which rose 37 percent year-on-year to 484,000 units. The company is still riding high on the successful launch of Halo Reach and the August release of the lower-priced Xbox 360 Slim Arcade. Xbox 360 was the only console to see a year-on-year rise in sales in September.

Overall, home console unit sales were down 20 percent year-on-year. Pachter said that Apple's move into gaming is taking away marketshare from the traditional big three console makers. "We believe the iPod Touch is cannibalizing dedicated game handheld hardware sales, and expect weakness in handhelds to persist until the 2011 introduction of the Nintendo 3DS (February 26 in Japan, March in U.S. and Europe)," he said.

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Kez Keenan
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Question. Why is he allowed to tell the numbers when Sony and Nintendo didn't want the numbers released? Unless I'm missing something here i'd be pretty pissed if I were either company.

Kevin Jones
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@ Kez Keenan : " Question. Why is he allowed to tell the numbers when Sony and Nintendo didn't want the numbers released? "

# 1. Who says Sony and Nintendo didn't want the numbers released? Sony and Nintendo merely refrained from releasing their hardware numbers because they got beaten by Microsoft's XBOX 360 sales figures.

# 2. Wedbush)Pachter's company) pays as much for their figures from NPD as Sony and Nintendo do. Nintendo doesn't have the right to tell Wedbush/Pachter what figures to release or not release.

In any case, I am happy Pachter gave out the figures, so we know exacty how the 3 consoles are doing relative to each other. Hopefully, he will continue to do that every month.

Kez Keenan
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NPD should though. They compile them and if the ones paying for it don't want them mentioned publicly, then I fail to see how Pachter is allowed to. It defeats the entire purpose of them changing how they release they're data if someone decides to release all the figures anyway.

kspray dad
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Xbox up 37 model and blowing out old stock at ridiculous prices.

PS3 down 37 percent...last year PS3 had the bump the Xbox got this year with the introduction of a new model.

Wii...hey NIN...better publish a game or two soon like.

DanielThomas MacInnes
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The reason for NPD's refusal to publicly release sales numbers is simple: the sales are absolutely terrible. Notice how they are now bundling titles from multiple formats in order to bump up the numbers. This is deception and denial, plain and simple, and frankly, I'm surprised that nobody is commenting on this issue and what it suggests for the future of the videogames industry. Instead, everyone is piling on their "Wii is Doooomed" insults with glee, and insisting that Nintendo drop back into the fold with Anonymous HD Console #3 (GAF is especially catty today).

The bottom line is that the console games market is in decline, and has been declining for years. This industry cannot sustain itself by appealing to 35-year-old Generation Xers, by making outlandishly expensive games ($50 million for one title?!) for consoles that have lost their makers billions of dollars. This isn't a matter of hoping for another hit or another gimmick. The entire business model is broken and the industry's way of thinking must be changed around.

It's shameful of NPD to hide their true sales numbers, but I would expect that this is what their clients - the game industry itself - desire. The need to influence and manipulate stockholders and investors is very great; the wolves will be at the door and they will be demanding blood if this situation doesn't turn around fast. And I've got news for you: another three years of cinematic gun games is not going to turn this industry around. Hell, just how many damn gun games do you need on these consoles, anyway?

And Nintendo....There needs to be a shakeup at the top. Nintendo isn't faltering because the motion-control fad is over, and they're not faltering because of Halo. The Wii is faltering because Nintendo simply can't be bothered to support it. In 2005, there was a strategy to pursue the mass market with innovative, Blue Ocean games like Brain Age, Nintendogs, and the Wii Series. Where are those games in 2010? Where are the Blue Ocean games for the Expanded Audience?

These games are not being made because Nintendo doesn't want to make them. Their superstar producers want to pursue personal pet projects that make themselves feel good. And so we get Mario Galaxy 2, even though 2D Mario outsells 3D Mario four-to-one. We get a Metroid "movie" with a baby complex. We get Wii Music and User-Generated Content. We get Zelda with puzzles and cut scenes and cheap gimmicks like trains. And we got exactly five Wii titles in nine months - all but Galaxy 2 DOA.

This industry is exactly where it deserves to be right now.

Jamie Mann
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Are the numbers really that bad? The results for the last few years have been majorly skewed by the Wii's market domination. As a result, it's likely that the casual-gamer market is saturated, which in turn means that sales are being driven again by the traditional-gamer demographics.

In any case, looking at the individual companies: it's been clear for the last six months or so that Nintendo's sales have dropped by 40% - they even admitted as much in their financial review back in July. I wibbled on about it at great length a week or two back:

Sony are in a similar position to Nintendo, in that the high sales from last year were unsustainable: as the article states, the demand at the time was driven by a new PS3 model and a price cut.

Then there's Microsoft, who... well, they've *grown* their sales by 40%, which is probably at least partially due to the new Xbox 360 S model - though unlike the PS3, the price has remained relatively static.

This isn't to say that there aren't structural issues in the market: Nintendo's strategy over the last few years seems to have focused on hardware gimmicks and a limited number of franchise iterations: for all of the huge piles of cash they're sitting on, there's been very little research, development or experimentation coming out of their labs and their online/downloadable strategy was stillborn: with no game demos, poor marketplace interfaces and significant barriers for new developers, WiiWare and DSiWare have failed to make any impact. Meanwhile, their 3DS is being released after Christmas, which is likely to both impact Christmas DS sales and see the 3DS being released during a cash-restricted period of the year.

Moving onto Sony, their PSP has lost traction outside of Japan and we're only just starting to get rumours of the PSP2. The initial sales of Move have been high, but it remains to be seen if this can be sustained - after all, the Dreamcast broke sales records when it was released, but look at what happened just three years later.

Microsoft is in a similar position: Kinect appears to have picked up strong pre-orders, but it remains to be seen how well it'll do once the initial surge subsides. Meanwhile, they don't have any share of the handheld market: we'll have to wait until Windows Mobile 7 is released to see whether gamers pick up on it. Though on a more positive note, they do have (at least in my opinion) the best console front end: it's a lot easier to browse and buy things on an Xbox 360 as compared to the PS3 and Wii.

Andre Murphy
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Hey Jamie, check this out. I, myself, owned all 3 systems at one point. But I've been a hardcore gamer since 1986 and unfortunately the Wii had to go! I enjoy the Nintendo properties (Mario, Kirby, Link, etc..) but like you said, no serious online, the download is a joke, and the hardcore titles are few-far-& in between. I traded the Wii and purchased PS3 and 360 games. But as of lately, I've traded in nearly all of my PS3 titles and purchased Xbox 360 titles. Don't get me wrong, I love my PS3 but I enjoy watching blu-ray movies first and gaming second. Sony, in my opinion, has failed to show why Blu-ray is supposed to be the dominating format for gaming. While a few games look better (NOT BY MUCH THOUGH! only a spec here and there!) and the gameplay is good. Xbox does a better job! But the only gripe I have with Sony is the online. The gaming is chaotic and totally out of control (having no set parameters like Xbox Live). I still hear people say "Sonys' online is better because its free." My usual response is,"Dude, you get what you pay for". Look, Im a fan of hardcore gaming. I dont mean to sound like a 360 fan boy, but right now Im satisfied with my 360 first, Sony second, and the Wii as a paper weight!

Robert Green
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Can you explain why NPD have an interest in not publishing bad numbers? They're a market research company, so surely they have an interest in being as accurate as possible. That having been said, they also charge for the full reports, so they also have an interest in not providing all of the information that people are after, if withholding that information might get them more sales. Presumably the number of changes they've made over the last couple of years has been aimed at finding the right balance between what you give away and what you charge for.

As for combining all the different SKU's into one, for the purposes of a top ten chart that just makes sense. In practical terms, you wouldn't say that a console-exclusive was the #1 game last month if the combined sales of a multiplatform title outsold it.

I don't disagree with your general analysis of the industry right now though.

Andre Murphy
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With the "Wii" finally slowing down in sales and Sony trying to cash in on the "Wii Community" I cant help but wonder (with some possible answers). Will the PS3 Move package appeal to casual gamers same as the Wii used to? (ANSWER) NO! Common Sense says the Wii appeals from not only being user friendly but especially from an affordable price! Hey Sony, if you really want to get at Nintendo make the Move backwards compatible with the PS2. By doing this you'll have a better chance at attracting casual gamers at a more affordable price while offering the Move on PS3 with strictly Hardcore Gamers in mind. I have a feeling if this happens we may see some staggering numbers!

Steve Peterson
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I believe NPD was under pressure from publishers to "do something" about the constant stream of bad sales numbers. A bad sales month here and there can be explained away; two years in a row of down sales can't be explained so easily. The monthly news release from NPD saying "sales continue to suck" leads to self-fulfilling prophecy, as publishers cut back on spending, consumers get wind of things not going so well, projects get trimmed or slowed, and sales continue to slow. It's a vicious cycle.

One solution, if the news is bad, is to stop spreading the news. (Easier than fixing systemic problems or changing your business model, certainly.) So I suspect there was pressure from many sources for NPD to stop saying such nasty things... or at least, stop making it so specific by naming titles and publishers and specific hardware device sales. That way, even though the numbers still say "sales sucked last month" an individual publisher can say "Sure, maybe other publishers had a problem, but our title Call of Sequel of Honor II sold really well!"

So the monthly pig gets a nice glossy lipstick and some eye makeup. Meanwhile, mobile, social, and free-to-play games are bringing home the bacon.