One of the biggest questions I have in regards to the ongoing success of the Sony Playstation 3, is whether third party developers will want to develop good titles for it.
As a PC gamer, the only thing that could come anywhere near convincing me to buy a console is amazing game titles. All the fuss that’s being made over Gears of War is one of those cases, and I have to wonder whether that’s ever going to happen for the PS3.
The number of launch titles for the PS3 has been called “anemic” and while people are predicting a good first quarter for PS3 games, will it continue?
The launch range for the PS3 includes Madden NFL 07, Need for Speed Carbon, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07, Call of Duty 3, NBA Live 07, NBA 2K7, NHL 2K7, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom, NBA ’07, Ridge Racer 7, Tony Hawk’s Project 8, Genji: Days of The Blade and of course Resistance amongst a few others.
While that list may seem far from “anemic”, there are very few games on that list that are ‘AAA’ and exclusive to the PS3. Arguably, only one, Resistance.
Not released yet, but in between now and the end of Q1 2007, we have Sonic the Hedgehog, F.E.A.R, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas, Blazing Angels, Full Auto Battlelinesnes, Fight Night Round Virtua, tua Tennis 3.
While there are some good games on that list, there still doesn’t seem to be a killer ap.
And why would there be, when the system is hard to develop for, is technologically unproven, and most importantly, has a tiny user base, and a small user base for most if not all of 2007.
I can almost hear the aggravated voices of my readers as I typed that last statement. “Didn’t you see the queues?” “Everyone wants a PS3,” etc etc etc.
Well, let’s look at the numbers. Microsoft apparently already has six million Xbox 360 consoles in the hands of customers worldwide. They’re claiming that they’ll have 10 million by the end of the year, but let’s discount that for the moment and work with a more reasonable 7 or 8 million.
On the other hand, Sony have made some rather spurious claims of being able to ship 2 million consoles by the end of the year, and according to my interpretation, they’re claiming to have shipped six million units by the end of March. Given they could only ship less than half a million for launch, I find it hard to believe they’ll meet any of these targets, but let’s assume they do.
For a game developer wanting to release a AAA title in the first or second quarters of 2007, you are faced with this scenario if considering going exclusive:
1st January 2007. Almost guaranteed seven million xbox 360’s and possibly shorter development time. Vs maybe two million PS3’s.
1st April 2007 (beginning of Q2). Maybe ten million xbox 360’s and possibly shorter development time. Vs maybe six million PS3’s.
1st July 2007 (beginning of Q3). Too far to tell.
The other obvious thing to point out here is that non-exclusive AAA games will try to launch to all platforms to maximise sales. However in this scenario, the Xbox 360 would be further assisted be it’s similarity to PC architecture. The arguments are still going on about whether it’s easier to develop for the Xbox 360 or PS3, however no one seems to argue that developing for the PC and Xbox 360 are the most similar. If you’re developing for the PC already, the 360 would therefore seem to be the winner.
So what’s my point ultimately?
Eventually the PS3 will be able to produce enough units to equal Xbox 360’s customer base (I would say not before Q1 2008). if those units were available now, then they would be able to sell them, and the games would appear to make people buy them. However, they’re not available, and that ultimately makes the 360 the winner in this generation.