How the hell can you say GameCube will outsell Xbox by 2005?
You need a big pair of crystal balls
Two days ago we wrote that Sony's PS2 will top sales in Europe, the US and Japan by 2005 in the next-generation console shoot-out. The Xbox will grab second position in Europe but come in third place behind Nintendo's GameCube in the US and Japan.
The media analysts coming up with this result are Screen Digest, who compiled a report into the market for ELSPA, the European Leisure Software Publishers Association.
But how the hell do they know? Screen Digest got quite specific with its figures. Across all three regions Microsoft will shift 31.62 million Xbox units by the end of 2004, Nintendo will sell 31.88 million GameCube units, and Sony will have cleared 46.05 million PS2s.
"No one has a magic crystal ball for trying to forecast markets," Ben Keen, executive director of Screen Digest, told The Register.
What they do have is a computer model of the world market, which they've been developing for some time. They put in historical data, and combine this with info they glean from "full and frank" conversations with the console manufacturers, software publishers and developers, and retailers. So they know marketing plans, the software line-ups and how many of them are expected to be top class, the hardware specs, and the level of support from publishers.
"This a very very tough one to call - there is no weakest link," says Keen. "There are three very strong runners, but you can take a reasonable set of assumptions based on each contender. I can't possibly know the future but I think you can make some informed predictions, and you can learn from history."
History includes things like the Sega Dreamcast which Screen Digest basically said was going to stiff in its console report published at the start 2000. "We gave it a conservative market share," understates Keen
So why will the PS2 still be in front by the end of 2004? Because it's got a headstart. "The software support started not as well as they'd hoped but it is increasingly coming through," says Keen, who believes the add-on pieces Sony's going to bring out will help it compete with against the superior specs
of the other two consoles.
"They're in the driving seat and will be able to respond to whatever's thrown at them."
Keen also believes there'll be a PS3 by the end of 2004.
The Nintendo GameCube will have a slight edge on the Microsoft Xbox because of its gaming history, its targeting of a lower age gamer rather than the broader home entertainment market, and possibly because it's name is cooler than Microsoft.
"Microsoft will be doing everything possible to downplay its brand. Come the launch of Xbox you won't see the Microsoft name splashed around. It's not the hippest brand," says Keen. ®
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