Meatspin Calculator Gymnastics: March 2009

Every time an analyst opens his mouth, the Internet swells with comments like “What an idiot” or “I could do that job.” I have a lot of respect for analysts despite their seemingly dartboard approach to predictions. These are people with teams of researchers at their disposal, crunching away at numbers and reporting on the financial stability of game companies. They aren’t all gamers themselves.

I don’t think I have what it takes to write reports to stock holders, but I’ve always wondered if I could make decent predictions. So, I asked Destructoid if I could take a stab at being the “site analyst” and they accepted. Each month, I’ll be providing a summary of the previous month and giving my own predictions for the following month. I’m also going to take a stab at the hardware NPD numbers each month.

This is your chance to be an analyst, too. I invite all of you to post your own predictions in the comments. If you really think you can do a better job than some of the analysts out there, prove that you are a meatspinning calculator gymnast instead of a Monday morning quarterback.
Killzone 2
February 2009:

February 2009 was a great month for gaming in general, especially considering the state of the economy (unemployment rose to 8.1% in the U.S. in February). Nearly 20 million software sales in the U.S. and 2.33 million hardware sales took place in February.

From a hardware perspective, Nintendo cleaned up with 1.34 million units in sales between the Wii and DS. Microsoft realized its biggest non-holiday/non-Halo month since launch. Sony offloaded 606k in sales between the PS3, PSP and PS2.

  • Wii – The Wii sold 753k in February, up from 679k in January. GameStop recently commented that Wii supply has finally met demand. It’ll be interesting to keep an eye on Wii sales throughout the year and watch for the unavoidable decline (which may or may not come this year). The Wii shows no signs of slowing down, so until those hints can be seen, expect to see similar sales figures every month.
  • DS – The DS sold 588k in February, up from 510k in January. Most interesting to note is that sales are not slowing down despite no major releases and a looming DSi due this April.
  • Xbox 360 – Microsoft is obviously enjoying the 360’s price point with 391k in sales. Even with no exclusives launching that month, it was able to beat the PS3 (its main competitor) by 115k units. This is a testament more to the price point of the 360 than it is to the PS3, considering the 360 hit its highest non-holiday/non-Halo month since launch. Expect the 360 to continue to sell well until after a PS3 price drop.
  • PS3 – The PS3 sold considerably well at 276k units, considering its price point. I’m sure Sony would have wanted higher sales due to the late month release of Killzone 2, but there is still hope. Keep an eye on March to see if Killzone 2 helped clear shelves at retailers, but those numbers may be overshadowed by sales of Resident Evil 5 which was released in March. Despite my seemingly positive outlook of the PS3 this month, it’s obvious that the PS3 needs a price cut. Currently, Sony seems to be relying on exclusives and hype to sell units, but only so much water can be squeezed from this sponge. Sony has recently stated they have plans for the PS3 price drop, and I believe they do. They are most likely waiting for a new financial quarter, a strategic date (like E3), or manufacturing costs to go down. As a company, Sony is hurting tremendously. With Stringer taking over as company president, it’s hard to say what the new direction for the Playstation brand will be, but Sony has reassured us that nothing will change. Then again, Sony says a lot of things. I’ll be keeping my eyes on this one.
  • PSP – Sales of the PSP rose slightly over January with 210k sold.
  • PS2 – The PS2 sold 131k units. Considering that the PS2 sold 351.8k units last February, it’s easy to see why Sony dropped the price of the PS2 down to $99 on April 1st 2009. The price drop announcement came at the end of March so that shouldn’t affect PS2 sales in the March NPDs.

In terms of software:

  • Wii – The Wii claimed 4 of the top 10 spots, including the top spot. Six of the top 20 in sales came from the Wii. It’s interesting to note that all four of the Wii’s top 10 games included additional hardware.
  • PS3 – The PS3 only had two games in the top 10, but those combined for a very respectable 726k in sales. Killzone 2 came in at #5 with 323k in sales. I suspect it would have sold more had it been on the market for more than 2 days in February. Street Fighter IV sold 403k, slightly under the 360’s 446k, which is very respectable considering the install base of the 360 and PS3; 15 million vs. 7 million respectfully. Despite good performance from these two games, the PS3 was only able to get three games in the top 20. As Nintendo and Microsoft pull ahead in install base, it’s going to be increasingly more difficult for Sony to take up slots in the monthly software sales. Again, I stress the importance of a PS3 price drop.
  • Xbox 360 – Like the PS3, the 360 was only able to get two games in the top 10. The difference between the PS3 and 360, though, is that the 360 was able to pull 9 games from the top 20. Month after month, we see the same games appear on the NPD list from Nintendo. Not Microsoft. It’s clear that the 360 really is a 3rd party dream. Until the PS3 starts truly taking off, don’t expect this to change.
  • DS – Again we see Mario Kart, Super Mario DS and New Super Mario Bros. show up in the entire top 20 for the DS. Did you really expect anything less?
  • PSP and PS2 – Neither had a game hit the top 20.

My predictions:

In February, I made two predictions. I was right on both.

  • I predicted that Killzone 2 would show up as number 5. It did.
  • I predicted the 360 would sell 100k or more than the PS3. It did.

Halo Wars

March 2009:

On the surface, the March 2009 NPDs will look fantastic since they will be based on 5 weeks of data instead of 4. The biggest new software players in March will be Resident Evil 5, Halo Wars, Pokémon Platinum, and GTA Chinatown Wars. Wii Fit, Wii Play and Mario Kart will also show their face. Killzone 2 may show up in the top 10, but it will be towards the lower end of the top 10 if it does. Expect 360 sales to be up with its favorable price point and new Resident Evil 5 SKU.

I don’t expect Halo Wars to make much of an impact in hardware sales, but expect great software sales since MS has announced that Halo Wars has already broken the 1 million mark. The PS3 should show numbers similar to last months (based on a weekly breakdown) due to the continuation of Killzone 2 and the new Resident Evil 5. The DS should see good numbers with GTA Chinatown Wars and Pokémon Platinum, but people may be holding off for the DSi in April.

Based on historical figures and educated guesses, here are my predictions. I admit I’m new to this (and have never tried to predict sales in such great detail), so let’s see how I do:

Wii: 825k

DS: 725k

360: 450k

PS3: 325k

PSP: 210k

PS2: 125k

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Joe Burling
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