Industry analysts at the NPD Group have revealed console and software sales figures for the month of February. Microsoft says it's very happy with the results. Not content to bask in the glow of its 53 percent increase in sales over last year, the company also took some heavy digs at Sony -- the console war is a brutal conflict! Here's Xbox 360 product management director Aaron Greenberg quoted by Gamasutra:
"You can't underestimate that we're half the price of the PS3 at a time when consumers [were] looking for great value... The PS3 was down in February two percent even with the launch of Killzone 2 -- that's months of year-over-year declines. Xbox continues to head north while the PS3 is heading south. We're gaining share."
"But what we hear from our partners is that it's not just PS3, it's also PS2 down 62 percent year over year. With that business declining, and with the PS3 business declining, it's been described to me as hemorrhaging at retail right now, and it just keeps getting worse."
Ouch. While the Xbox 360 had a good sales month compared to last year (254,600 360s sold in 2008 versus 391,000 in 2009) I wouldn't exactly describe PlayStation 3's sales decline as a "hemorrage." Sony sold 276,000 PlayStation 3's in February 2009 versus 280,000 the previous year. That's a downtick, but it's not exactly uncontrolled bleeding, given the mess the world's finances are in.
Greenberg's statement about Killzone 2, however, seems entirely out of left field. The critically lauded first-person shooter came out at the end of February, so no one should be surprised that it didn't really affect sales. The real test of whether Killzone 2 is a "system seller" game will be March's numbers.
While TheFeed's Ray Pad doesn't think Killzone 2 will sell system, I think we'll see a moderate, but noticeable increase in PS3 sales as a result of this title in March. I wonder if Sony is waiting to see the effect the game has on sales before they decrease the price of the PlayStation 3...
I also think (well, hope) that the worst of The Great Recession is behind us. I'm choosing to believe Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who thinks the financial crisis could end this year. If it does, people will become less freaked by their shrinking 401Ks and they'll be more likely to pick up a shiny, new PS3 for Christmas.
Another interesting perspective on the numbers: Greenberg mentions PlayStation 2 sales being down 62 percent from last year, but the decade-old system still managed to sell a respectable 131,000 units. I don't see the original Xbox represented on the NPD's numbers at all. A downward trend in sales of a system that has been around for that long should surprise no one.
As for the future of the two consoles, Greenberg says the 360 is converting former Sony owners to the new system:
"What we're finding in our research is that a large portion of the volume we're driving with Xbox 360 purchasers is actually PS2 owners choosing Xbox for the next generation. We're switching people from the PlayStation brand over to the Xbox brand."
I'm putting in a call to Sony for a response to these quotes, so watch this space!