6th December 2009 - Welcome readers to the 21st edition of All Age Gaming’s “The Week That Was.” Let’s hop straight into it. This week saw a lot of movie/tv related games which included James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game for 360, PS3 and Wii; Saw on 360 and PS3; Where The Wild Things Are on 360, PS3 and Wii; and Ben 10 Alien Force: Vilgax Attacks on the Wii. Other releases included Muramasa: Demon Blade on Wii, The Saboteur on 360 and PS3, Scene It? Bright Lights? Big Screen? on 360, PS3 and Wii and new fitness game Your Shape on the Wii.
For those that don’t know, Black Friday in the US is the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, and marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping period. Many bargains are to be had and huge numbers of consoles are often sold during this period. The Wii and PS3 sold a tonne of units (which we’ll come to later), and so did the 360 but Microsoft aren’t releasing any numbers. All Microsoft are willing to reveal is that it was the biggest sales week of the year, and that it was more than twice as much as the previous week sales.
A new iPhone application entered the market this week that allows gamers to access their Live account through the phone. Titled 360 Live, the app automatically retrieves your friends list, lets you change and update your gamer profile and also allows you to send and receive messages over Live. It currently costs $2.50 but Microsoft has previously stated that all iPhone/iPod Touch apps pertaining to Xbox Live should be free.
Meanwhile in the UK, Microsoft and the BBC have failed to agree to terms on the implementation of BBC’s iPlayer on the 360. The deal has failed due to Microsoft’s insistence on charging for content despite the free status of the licence-fee funded iPlayer. A BBC source has told The Telegraph that Microsoft “wants to ensure that only those paying for Xbox Live Gold accounts can access its additional content services and even then there is usually a charge on top to get access to those... This does not fit with BBC’s model and Microsoft will not budge at the moment.”
And finally, a new update to the Xbox Live Avatar Marketplace now allows you to purchase pets for your avatar. Each pet costs 240 MS points, and includes a large dog, pug dog, dog in bag (whaaat? This must be for Paris Hilton wannabes), cat, Siamese cat, Long Haired cat, goldfish, guinea pig, monkey, bird, snake and a pony. Apparently this is the “first shipment” of pets, so expect more to be available at a later date. What pets would you want to see?
As mentioned above, Sony had a strong week in sales in the U.S. following the start of the holiday trading period. Official numbers have shown that more than 440,000 units were sold in the U.S. alone for the week ending November 29th. That’s a phenomenal number for the most expensive system, especially in the current US economic climate.
Sony’s upcoming 3D technology was in the news this week, with the company being very confident of its success. Sony are expecting for up to half of their TVs sold from April 2012 will be 3D-enabled. The 3D enabled sets will of course be more expensive than the non 3D sets, but the extra hardware in them isn’t expected to fetch a huge price premium. However, the glasses required to view 3D content might be sold separately for up to $200! I remember the good old days when 3D glasses were just blue and red cellophane stuck on a frame...
When the PSPgo was launched earlier this year, Sony also launched PSP Minis, which is a collection of cheaper and smaller downloadable games for the PSP. Rumours are now circulating that PSP Minis may appear on the PS3 before Christmas. As usual, Sony has refused to comment on these rumours but don’t be surprised if it’s true as Sony has previously said that they have games that would deliver experiences suitable for both the PS3 and PSP.
And you will soon be able to get into the Christmas spirit in PlayStation Home. Coming December 10 there will be a new space entitled “Winter Wonderland”, that will let gamers travel to Santa’s grotto, talk to the elves and even be Santa himself. There will also be a bunch of Christmas themed mini-games with unlockable prizes involved.
And now we move onto the Wii and reveal how well it did over the Thanksgiving holiday. Depending on which site you may have read, the Wii did exceptionally well over the last week, or it struggled and failed to meet expectations. Well the Wii sold 550,000 units during the Thanksgiving week, quite impressive numbers. However, this is 30% down on the same time last year when around 800,000 units were sold. With 550,000 units sold in one week, I would be happy, especially since Wii sales are also up 85% (in the US) on a weekly basis since receiving its October price cut.
Maybe Nintendo are beginning to struggle, with new reports revealing that they are significantly scaling back production of the Wii for the first time. Apparently the two manufacturing companies for the Wii are facing a drop in net profits of more than 50% as a result of the decrease in production. Will this impact on in-store stock levels of the Wii? I don’t think there have been too many shortages of late, something that dogged the company in the Wii’s infancy.
Perhaps Nintendo need to support some higher quality software for the Wii to help with their “slump”. Lightning Fish Games CEO Simon Prytherch definitely thinks the quality of the games on Wii is lacking. Prytherch praised the Wii in saying that it cared more about gameplay and experience, however also went on to say the Wii was oversaturated with product. As a result, consumers have “been damaged by a lot of substandard software,” which has caused them to “only trust big Nintendo brands.”
But despite all the recent criticisms and problems facing the Wii, THQ CEO Brian Farrell is not ruling the console out. Farrell believes only the short sighted game publishers consider the Wii to be dead. He considers it to be “music to our ears” when he hears of people saying they are getting out of the market, especially considering the massive global install base of around 40 million Wii’s. I would have to agree with Farrelly. Despite the slow-down in sales, when you sell 550,000 units in a week, that’s still a dominating figure.
And now for this week’s other news in brief:
A couple of games were banned from Australia this week, with Crimecraft being banned for its drug use, and Alien vs. Predator being banned for its violent content. Rebellion, the developers for AVP, will not alter their game to fall under the M-rating as they believe the game is purely meant for adults. They also don’t believe in cutting violent content for “territories where adults are not considered by their governments to be able to make their own entertainment choices.”