Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wii Move Kinect! Sales Are In Motion

The big story of the holiday season for the videogame industry is this: Who will win the battle of the motion controllers? Some information from the front has come in from all three combatants, so let's look at the body count and see if we can figure out who's winning.

Nintendo crowed about their sales figures over the Black Friday week (November 21-27): They sold 900,00 DS's and 600,000 Wii's. An impressive amount given the anemic sales of the last few months... Nintendo sold more than two month's worth of Wii's, at their latest rate, in one week. They claim the pretty new colors are the reason... OK, maybe, or maybe it's just the price point and the software bundles.

Wow, who could top those sales numbers? How about Microsoft, announcing that another 1.5 million Kinects have been sold, for a grand total of 2.5 million in 25 days. I guess that $149 price point isn't dimming the enthusiasm... although we don't really know what they could have sold if the price was $99, do we? You have to admit Microsoft's numbers look impressive compared to the Wii, since they've sold roughly 2.5 times what Nintendo has sold in the same period of time, at nearly the same price point... and the Kinect isn't even a complete game system.

Microsoft clearly crushed Nintendo in that time period, so how about Sony? They couldn't resist chiming in with their sales numbers for the Move: 4.1 million Moves sold worldwide so far. OK, they did have an extra week or two of sales over Kinect, and the price tag is roughly 1/3 to 1/2 the Kinect (depending on the configuration)... but it's still a big number. And, once again, this is not a complete game system. Nintendo who?

The big caveat with all the waving of sales numbers in the age-old game of "Mine's bigger!" is that these numbers most likely represent sell-in, not sell-through. Sell-in is much easier for the companies to track, because that number is in their sales software. To get sell-through numbers (that is, what customers have actually purchased and taken home), they have to rely on retailers... a notoriously secretive lot. Still, I don't think there's huge numbers piling up at retailers. But some analysts are wary of the reports of "shortages", sensing an all-too-common manipulation of inventory in order to create the appearance of overwhelming demand. In the hopes of actually creating more demand, because it's scarce, so you have to get it now before it disappears...

It will be educational to see the overall numbers for the 4th quarter, both for consoles and for the add-ons. So far, based on these early numbers, it looks like Microsoft and Sony are crushing Nintendo. New technology beats old tech in new colors, I guess.

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