Saturday, 31 August 2013

Predictions for Console Launch 2013

  I`m posting this up, mainly so that I can say that I called it later. 

  Predictions for Console Launch 2013

  We live in a curious season when three new consoles launch in the same span and I insist that portables be considered consoles just because.  Alright?  Ignoring the protests, we are on with the main event!

  2DS (or 2Dees, if you`re a journalist). 
The 2DS is going to succeed, because it has all of the benefits of the hugely successful 3DS platform, without the annoying extra bits of being: ”unsafe for children under 7.”  I know a good number of adults who loved the DS line, would like a simple upgrade, but could not get behind the stereoscopy, or the extra price to pay for it.  If there were any other doubts, I submit the name that shall seal the deal: Pokémon.

  The Playstation 4
I`m calling it now: the PS4 is lining up for a clean console transition.  Similar to the PS One to Two transition, Sony will have the enviable problem of how to kill off the successful PS3, but will have a reliable fan base of in service PS4 consoles to fall back.  Sony even brags of over a million PS4 pre-orders, which is not the same as the WiiU`s 3.6 million sold units, but is a great start and will permit it to overtake it with only a little bit of luck and momentum.

  Speaking of the WiiU
Momentum needs more than launch hype, and selling approximately 3.5 million in one quarter, and less than 160,000 million in the next, should be a sobering lesson for anybody.  Nintendo, I love you, and I genuinely stand by for the quality, but you`ve got to do something about these software droughts.  Maybe consider something with a longer shelf life, like Pokémon or Animal Crossing, or some kind of MOBA or, hey, Square Enix has that struggling MMO Dragon Quest X on the Wii, before the droughts happen.  Which is usually around console launch time, I`ve noticed.  My predictions for the WiiU are that the console will improve this season, bolstered by the recent price cut, and may even hit as high as five million installed units.  Nothing will save the WiiU from being listed to third place until Wii Fit U and Mario Kart 8 appear, and I`m calling it now: Wii Fit U will slip its 2013 launch window.  I want my next Wii Fit, Nintendo!

  Xbox One
Well, time to earn some fan rage, even I haven`t already.  Small signs are showing up to reveal strange weaknesses at Microsoft.  The console has slipped to a 2014 launch in a dozen European territories.  Delays, so far not serious ones, have appeared in localizing Kinect`s voice commands.  There`s an impressive list of launch window games for the console, but critically, I see work piling up in establishing services Microsoft wants us to view as indispensible.  And is it me, or does Microsoft has running problems avoiding bad press from early adopter problems, like the Red Ring of Death, or early criticism about Windows 8s.  I`m calling it now: I believe that MS will make its ship date for North America, and then promptly tailspin, losing critical momentum as the launch window elapses.  All of the big players will appear, but XB One (Xbone?) will struggle to communicate its meaningful changes over the Xbox 360, to say nothing of the PS3 and PS4. 

  Pole positions
We seem to be in a market where the relative strengths of the consoles to serve their audience can be measured by sales, and that such equate to pole positions in a race.  We`ve widely seen that Nintendo is agnostic of this sort of competition, which is good because in last place:

  WiiU – To advance, WiiU needs a market niche to serve, and I guess 1986 loyalists aren`t going to be enough.  Wii Fit U will help, a lot!  But to appeal to the casual audience, or build a new one, Nintendo almost needs to set the plan of getting us all playing together aside, at least until the infrastructure for us to play together is built.

  Playstation Vita – It`s recent $50 price drops is nullified by the 2DS, and the entire market is being cannibalized by non dedicated machine, smartphones and tablets.  More power, console on the go, these just aren`t working for Vita.  Lots of great indie games, though.  There has to be some way the portable can stand out, not just from its direct competitors but also from the more expensive, feature rich consoles it emulates.

  Xbone (what is the respectful way to refer to this?) – Xbox One will tailspin, I call it now, and will lose critical momentum against its better prepared rivals.  Whether it’s the higher price, or complications with features, I`m sure they`ll get it all sorted out sometime after Christmas, but remember that every Microsoft product, from Windows to Office, to the 360, all the way back to DOS 1, has shipped slightly buggy and needed time on the market to fix.  They have precisely the opposite problem of Nintendo, and while that is proven to be a slowdown that they can spend their way out of, it will cost them, and money talks, but takes its own time.  They will end behind the WiiU at Christmas, and surpass it only when the rest of Europe has its launch date.

  Playstation 4 – I call it again.  PS 4 is lining up for a smooth transition.  They will end, probably just ahead or the WiiU, which is impressive enough in and of itself.  Getting past launch hype will be the PS4`s greatest hurdle, but there too they have Sony`s excellent relations with both third parties and indies.  It will take a while to learn what sorts of games move PS3 owners to upgrade, but by the time of XBone`s protracted European launch, they will be comfortably out in front, behind only the …

  2DS/3DS family – I think this bunch is now to be referred to as the 3DS family, but I can`t be sure.  The abiding danger for this group is name confusion – I want to buy my kid this 3DS Pokémon, but the cheap system says 2DS – I could pay that but is it compatible? – while the more expensive one shares the name 3DS but has this nasty warning label about blindness in kids.  Overall, I think it will be fine, with another 10 or 15 million new handhelds joining the market.

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