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E3 Fallout: The Good and the Bad of "The Big Three"

As the dust of the news overload that is E3 begins to settle, I feel it is safe to begin analyzing what was presented.  We’ve seen Ubisoft’s rockstar line-up, EA’s slew of sports games, and a life sized Dracula statue from Konami, but what everyone is still talking about is the “Big Three” -- Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft.

Stocks

One way market analysts determine if an event was “good” or “bad” for a company is relatively easy. Look at the stock prices. Here is a chart that shows the stock numbers for the “Big Three” from the beginning of E3 until now. It may not come as a huge surprise that Sony stock went up, 5.92% to be exact, but what took some by surprise, including me, was how good E3 was for Nintendo. Even without hosting a large press briefing like in years past, Nintendo’s stock still went up almost 11%. Microsoft was the only company that didn’t seem to benefit from the E3 week with its stocks prices dropping 1.87% since E3 opened. But what do these stock numbers mean for the success of any of the three companies? Pretty much nothing. No stock jump can predict if a console is going to be successful at launch or if people will suddenly start buying Wii U’s.  All it shows is the confidence of stock buying individuals, and those people are more confident in the future of Sony and Nintendo over Microsoft. 

Polls

Another bad omen for Microsoft took the form of an Amazon poll. On the day E3 closed, Amazon posted a poll on their Facebook asking users to vote which console they prefer between the PS4 and the Xbox One. The poll opened on June 13th and was scheduled to run until June 20th, but Amazon shut the poll down early after the voting turned immensely towards the PS4. By the time the poll was closed, the results were 38984 votes for PS4 and a mere 2162 for the Xbox One. That is a solid 94% for the PS4, a crushing majority. Other evidence of this staggering support for the PS4 over the Xbox One could be heard on Facebook, Reddit, and other social media sites. The internet had found a villain, and they wanted to let people know.

In the meantime, preorders for the PS4 spiked and rocketed it to the top of the Amazon.com Video Game Bestseller’s list. At the time of this writing, with the PS4 coming in first place and the Xbox One in the second place slot, eight of the top ten bestselling video game products are PS4 consoles or Sony products, like Playstation Store cards and the recently released game The Last of Us. Although the Xbox One occupies second place, the PS4 also occupies spots four, five, seven, and eight, which could lead to significantly more PS4 consoles being pre-ordered than Xbox Ones.  It is hard to know any specifics since Amazon isn’t telling the exact numbers of how many consoles of each brand are being ordered. Because this data is so nebulous, it is hard to analyze. How many more PS4s are being pre-ordered than Xbox Ones? Who knows. This is only one of many retailers where these pre-orders are available. Best Buy, Gamestop, Walmart, and other retailers all offer pre-orders and we don't know their numbers. Nevertheless, it seems to be following the pattern of Sony outpacing Microsoft, but probably not by far and definitely not by the 94% implied by the Amazon poll. People are still ordering Xbox One consoles in droves, which outlines the obvious but overlooked aspect of console success. Sales.

 

Sales

It doesn’t matter how upset the internet gets or how many people vote that one console is better than the other online, at the end of the day all that matters is how many of each console was sold. People may be upset at the Xbox One’s required online connection or both console’s lack of backwards compatibility, but will that prevent people from purchasing them? I doubt it. Microsoft revealed some pretty cool looking games in their massive press briefing at E3, and once the reviews and gameplay for the AAA titles like Titanfall start rolling in I think consumers will begin to forget about all of the things that turned them off of the Xbox One in the first place. “How often does my internet go out for more than 24 hours anyway?” They’ll think.  “I never really buy used games anyways.” They’ll tell themselves as they pull out their wallets. Look how quickly consumers got over the Xbox 360’s tendency to Red Ring and die, or the PS3’s sudden lack of backwards compatibility between versions. Negative attributes of the hardware fade into the background once cool games come into the picture.  

This is also assuming that the consumers purchasing the products are up to date on the current internet scandals.  Just under 43,000 people attended E3 and there are around 3 million subscribers to the gaming section of Reddit. Both of these numbers are minuscule compared to the 77.2 million Xbox 360s sold and the 70 million PS3s.  A large amount of these sales was probably “uneducated” to the bad press and controversies each console had at the time. They made their purchasing decision based on price, advertising and the prompting of their children. 

I’m not saying that the negative press won’t affect Xbox One sales this holiday season. It will. I bet Microsoft misses it’s sales predictions for the Xbox One by 10%, but in the long run I doubt it will matter. People will grow accustomed to the features of the Xbox One and the differences between the PS4 and the Xbox One will shrink down to a difference of game selection and performance, just like the what the current console generation has become. This is a situation where people need to vote with their wallets, rather than with online polls, but I doubt it is going to happen. Also, I predict the Wii U will start selling consoles again because they are finally releasing games for it.

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