A strong rise in U.S. sales of Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 3 during the week of Black Friday is expected to help the global video game console market to return to growth during the fourth quarter, the first time the market has expanded on a year-over-year basis this year, according to iSuppli Corp.
Global video game console shipments are set to rise to 24.6 million units in the fourth quarter of 2009, up 5.2 percent from 23.4 million the same period in 2008. This follows declines of 2.1 percent in the first quarter, 35.7 percent in the second quarter and 10.9 percent in the third quarter.
“Sony’s PlayStation 3 sales reached an all-time high during the week of Black Friday as consumers were attracted by its new low pricing and alluring bundle deals,” said Pamela Tufegdzic, analyst, consumer electronics, for iSuppli. “According to Sony, 440,000 PlayStation 3 consoles were sold in the United States during the week of November 29, a record for the product and nearly double from a year earlier. In comparison, Nintendo Wii sales were down year over year during the same period.”
Sales of the PlayStation 3, since being introduced in November 2006, had struggled primarily due to its relatively high price compared to the competition. Meanwhile, the Microsoft Xbox 360 had an early start building a larger installed base due to launching in 2005, a year ahead of the PS3, and the Wii’s casual motion-sensitive gaming turned out to be wildly popular among consumers. However, Sony now appears to have somewhat leveled the advantages enjoyed by its rivals and has found ways to attract consumers back to the popular PlayStation line.
“Sony has finally gotten it right with the PlayStation 3,” Tufegdzic said. “The company has made a number of moves that now are paying off in terms of increased sales. These include a new product design that has allowed a price reduction to $299, down from $399, making it more affordable for consumers. Sony also is selling the PlayStation 3 in bundles with popular game titles that cater to all ages. Furthermore, the PlayStation 3 is being sold in bundles with Sony High-Definition (HD) LCD-TVs, pushing the game console’s Blu-ray player capabilities. These deals are perceived as good value by consumers. Finally, Sony increased its level of advertising on television, newspapers and the Internet, further boosting its sales during Black Friday and likely throughout the Christmas season.”
Wii’s Black Friday Sales Decline Year Over Year
After a blockbuster 2008, sales of Nintendo’s Wii slowed down on Black Friday 2009 compared to a year earlier.
“Wii sales during the week of November 29 likely amounted to 550,000, compared to nearly 800,000 during the same period in 2008, according to Nintendo,” said Tufegdzic. However, the Wii did sell more consoles then the PS3 and Xbox 360 despite its year-over-year decline during the busiest holiday week.
The big driver for Wii sales was gaming titles, particularly the new Super Mario Bros Wii, which is estimated to have sold over half a million units in the second week of release. Other popular titles for Wii include Wii Sports Resort, Wii Fit Plus and Mario Kart Wii. In addition, the $50 retail price reduction from $249.99 to $199.99 has helped to prolong the Wii’s popularity among consumers.
Microsoft did not report actual sales during the Black Friday week, but the company did offer some great bundle deals that helped to promote sales.
The strong performance for the global game console in the fourth quarter won't be sufficient to make up for weak conditions through the first three quarters of the year. Worldwide video game console shipments will amount to 51.6 million units in 2009, down 6.7 percent from 55.3 million in 2008.
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