Grim news and missteps dominate our console news this week. Sony advised investors that it was headed for its 4th straight year of posting an annual net loss. The company's underperforming TV business (now eight years in the red) was a significant drain on the company's finances. The company blames "a decrease in LCD television sales, reflecting price declines due mainly to deterioration in market conditions in the US and Europe and unfavorable foreign exchange rates."
Hardware revenue declined
"reflecting a strategic price reduction of PlayStation 3 hardware in advance of the year-end holiday season," while software sales have been markedly down for all platforms the last three months. Sony claims it'll bring its TV business back to black next year, but investors have heard this tune before and don't appear particularly optimistic. Sony scarcely mentioned the upcoming launch of the PlayStation Vita, and analysts are divided as to whether the handheld can establish itself given strong competition from mobile phones, expensive memory cards, and a $249 price point.
In gaming, BF3 may have shattered the industry malaise that's gripped the market for the past six months. EA reported yesterday that the game (you can read our review here
) has sold a whopping five million copies in the first week. The company projects sales of 8.5 million through the end of December.
Meanwhile, on the Mario front, things aren't a whole lot better. Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata has admitted
that the company "intentionally delayed" game launches due to concerns that multiple top-tier titles would cannibalize each others' sales. This arguably backfired badly on the company. The 3DS is significantly more powerful than its older DS cousins, but the lack of top-tier 3D titles turned the handheld's primary feature into a battery-sucking option that rarely had an opportunity to shine. Low product sales could very easily prove more harmful to game shipments than the risk of cannibalization ever was.
3DS sales surged following the price drop (Nintendo moved an estimated 235,000 units in August and 260K in September), but the handheld's failure to shine at launch led to a general perception of the product as an underperformer. Nintendo is trying to revive the 3DS with new peripherals and content; it's too soon to tell if the device's early misfortunes can be reversed.
Meanwhile, Capcom doesn't seem to have gotten the message regarding economic uncertainty and slow 3DS sales. The company has confirmed that its upcoming 3DS game, Resident Evil: Revelations
, will retail for a whopping $50. "Resident Evil Revelations is an all new Resident Evil title with over 20 hours of gameplay, and cutscenes beautifully rendered in fear-inducing 3D,” a Capcom spokesperson told Kotaku. "A true console experience on a handheld device, Resident Evil Revelations is an epic title that offers both a single-player campaign for that classic survival horror gaming experience, and an additional RAID mode that can be played cooperatively or single player. To handle all of that data Resident Evil Revelations requires a 4GB cartridge, resulting in a higher price point."
The only thing worse than companies that overcharge for content is companies that overcharge for content and attempt to justify it with an utterly BS excuse. We'll wait to pass judgment until the game launches, but $50 for a handheld title is an extremely large pill to swallow.