The 2011 Game Developers Conference, one of the “majors” in global video game events, has just wrapped up here in San Francisco after five days of events and announcements surrounding new games, technologies and services. Nintendo gave us a first look at the Wii at GDC five years ago, Bill Gates launched the original Xbox here in 2000 and Sony pushed out its Move motion controller last year. While there was nothing of the same magnitude this year and Microsoft appears to be ignoring GDC for big announcements these days, we still had a keynote from Nintendo’s chief Satoru Iwata and a flurry of news from Sony.
Microsoft has announced a mixed bag of pricing for its Kinect motion controller and a new version of its Xbox 360.
The low $200 price for a 4-gigabyte version of the Xbox 360 S coming in August may give Microsoft an advantage over Sony and Nintendo in new console sales, but existing Xbox owners may baulk at paying an extra $150 for a Kinect sensor, available from November 4.
A new, slimmer Xbox boosted sales of the Microsoft console by 88 per cent in June, but video game software sales slumped 15 per cent.
The latest figures from the NPD research group on Thursday continued a disappointing trend for the industry in 2010, with overall sales down 9 per cent so far this year compared to 2009.
Sony’s launch of a slimmed down PlayStation 3 last September at a lower price led to a sustained sales lift and Microsoft would welcome a similar boost for its smaller version of the Xbox 360.
There are no price cuts with the $300 Xbox 360 S, announced at the E3 show in June, but added features such as built-in wireless connectivity mean better value for money.
The US video game industry remains in Dead Man’s Gulch despite the success of a spaghetti Western title in May.
The latest figures from the NPD research firm show Take-Two shifted more than 1.5m copies of Red Dead Redemption as the best-selling game of the month, but overall industry sales fell 5 per cent on a year ago to $823m, with console sales down 20 per cent at $241m.
Perhaps the most fun to be had playing a video game at the E3 trade show last week was sitting in a motor racing cockpit with 3D glasses and trying the new Gran Turismo for PlayStation 3.
The photorealism and visual and force-feedback effects were astonishing. And yet my favourite racing game currently – in a crowded field – remains another Sony game -ModNation Racers.
The US video game industry suffered one of its worst sales declines last month, according to April figures released on Thursday by the NPD research firm.
Console sales fell by 37 per cent and software sales by 22 per cent, with the industry suffering an overall 26 per cent fall to $766m in revenues, down from $1.03bn a year earlier.
With the “It Only Does Everything” marketing campaign for the PlayStation 3, Sony seems to be seizing on consumers’ maturing awareness of high-definition television – its features and new affordability – and the advantages of bringing an internet connection to the living room.
Halving the price of the console from its $600 debut has also helped. Peter Dille (pictured), head of marketing at Sony Computer Entertainment America, told the MI6 Conference on Thursday that PS3 sales grew 184 per cent in the three months following the September 1 price cut to $299.
In an interview after his keynote speech, he talked about the PS3′s potential finally being realised by consumers, the forthcoming 3D upgrade and the advantages of the new Move motion controller. Q&A extracts after the jump.
A year after its launch, Sony has announced its Home virtual world, accessed through the PlayStation 3, has reached the 10m user mark.
The console maker is also introducing its first massively-multiplayer online (MMO) game within Home today, which it describes as a unique social gaming experience.
It certainly represents Sony leveraging the PS3′s superior technology – Microsoft’s Xbox and Xbox Live service and the Nintendo Wii do not have the capabilities to tackle online games and environments of this level of sophistication.