Begun The Console Press Release Wars Have...

With the GfK results for 2010 being released today, citing a 16% drop in overall sales, both Sony and Microsoft were quick off the mark, shooting out press releases within 30 minutes of one another, each bursting with hyperbole regarding the incredible year they’ve both had. But who was the winner in this console arms race? I’m not sure. I’m so confused…

Sony fired first, with a press release claiming they delivered “the industry’s strongest platform results in 2010”.

PS3 platform achieved the number one place in terms of value and year on year value growth, representing 27% of the approximate AU$1.7 billion industry accounting for AU$469 million across more than 5 million units of PS3 product2. The latter, reflects a 41% uplift for the PS3 platform in calendar year unit sales. This solid year-on-year growth comes off the back of strong platform results the year prior, and is indicative of the continued momentum of the PlayStation brand, devices and entertainment content available in Australia.

Roughly 30 minutes later, Microsoft got in on the action…

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 can reveal it was the fastest growing gaming console in the market in 2010, with the Xbox division experiencing its biggest year on record in Australia.

Xbox 360 bucked the trend in a market where total console sales declined year on year, showing 20 per cent increase in total sales from the previous year.

Xbox 360 also grew an impressive 52 per cent from the Christmas-period 2009 to Christmas 2010. The achievement was propelled by the launch of Kinect for Xbox 360, Microsoft’s revolutionary controller-free entertainment accessory, driving sales over the competitive Christmas period to result in Xbox’s strongest ever Q4 sales.

Michael Ephraim, SCEA’s Managing Director, chose to focus on the year as a whole – wise, considering Sony had an extremely consistent year in terms of software, drip feeding gamers a plethora of AAA titles throughout 2010.

“PlayStation 3 as a platform continues to outperform and grow,” claimed Ephraim, “even during the double digit industry wide downturn last year. Our consumers are responding to the increased entertainment content offering, from both our company and our network of partners, enjoying the benefits derived from our ongoing technical innovation, and also the more connected network experiences we continue to offer.”

Microsoft’s top dog, David McLean chose to focus on a strong Christmas period, driven by the successful launch of Kinect.

“The Christmas period is always the key indicator of whether or not you have connected with consumers,” stated McLean, “and Christmas 2010 was a milestone year for Xbox.

“Christmas sales are a telling time for future trends and gauging what’s popular amongst consumers. With Kinect we have changed the landscape of the gaming and entertainment industry. We have opened gaming to a new audience and essentially created a new genre in controller-free entertainment.”

Interesting stuff – difficult to really tell who had the best year, since there’s so much spin to dig through – but it’s refreshing to see that both companies are doing so well in what initially seemed like a weak year at retail for the games industry. We’re still waiting to receive a similarly spin-laden press release from Nintendo, but we’re not holding our breath considering the 3DS seems to be diverting the Big N’s focus and attention for now.

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