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Development costs attractive or scant Sony numbers?

by editor3
August 3rd, 2006

Third-Parties Flocking to Wii. Hints at Low PS3 Ship
It looks as though investor-pressure is seeing publishers back away from PlayStation 3 software during the early phases of the machine’s launch, preferring instead to back Nintendo’s Wii, the latest home console from the Game Boy-famed games giant.

Publishers are all turning in financial reports, no doubt slightly optimistic Q1 offerings with egged projections to investors, that show loss after loss after loss. The highest-profile to date has been that of Electronic Arts, which filed a loss of $81m causing analysts to remove confidence in its stock, a situation almost mirrored in the Activision camp late last month in spite of the company scraping a slight profit.

It is becoming an open secret that publishers are shying away from the compounded risk associated with supporting two ‘traditional’ next-gen launch platforms within 12 months, namely that of the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. Microsoft remained quiet on its anticipated shipping figures, allowing analysts to make their own predictions, predictions that proved way off the mark.

And because of this lack of information, no doubt encouraged by a Microsoft third-party relations team which has come in for hefty criticism from every supporting publisher (albeit in guarded public words and in off the record mutterings) there was simply too much launch software for the Xbox 360. Publishers readied offerings for a non-existent audience. Those able to buy hardware, opted only for the safest game purchases and everything else was left on the shelf.

It is looking likely that third-parties are shying away from day-one PlayStation 3 support, preferring to back Nintendo’s ‘new-gen’ Wii offering. See, for example, recent comments from Atari CEO Bruno Bonnell suggesting the embattled French company will risk nothing on PlayStation 3 shipping figures, stating in a recent interview, “…we’re lacking information about the PS3 at this stage, because we have basically a rough release date and a high retail price point.”

Bonnell highlights the potential shift towards Wii development, believed to be an emerging practice amongst a number of major third-party publishers, explaining that Atari is “…accelerating some of the Wii titles, because with the technology being so close to the GameCube, we are able to effectively convert teams faster than on PS3.”

SPOnG would predict that right now, third-party publishing strategists are recommending if not demanding a significant shift in resources away from PlayStation 3 development and towards the more cost-effective Nintendo platform. As we have seen, the Xbox 360 has seen losses of its own, with THQ killing (dare we say whacking?) The Sopranos for the Microsoft platform and Vivendi following suit, canning a planned 360 version of Scarface.
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