Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Research Findings Put PS3 Way Ahead.

According to the study by Los Angeles based Interpret, 8.9 million U.S consumers ‘are prepared’ to pay full price ($500 or $600) for the PlayStation 3 this fall, compared to 5.7 million consumers who are willing to buy Wii at $250 and just 800,000 people who are willing to pay full price for Xbox 360 ($300 to $400).

This research, released first to Next Generation, was derived from a sample of 2,000 interviews Interpret conducted online, weighted to 2004 Census data of 13 to 54 year-olds in the U.S. Researchers ran a parallel random digit dial telephone study as a back-up to weigh the data to what the US population looks like to ensure that the online data was not over-representing females, which often occurs with online surveys.

The numbers skew high in general (it will be 2008 before PS3 has an installed base of over 12 million in the US) but what’s interesting is the ratios, and the clear brand presence owned by Sony. Xbox 360 has enjoyed tremendous success in the past year, unopposed by competitors, but the real test will come when it is up against PS3, and is attempting to break into mainstream demographics. If these numbers are true, it has a tough time ahead.

Interpret CEO Michael Dowling said “Actual sales will be dictated by supply constraints, but if Sony had enough supply in the marketplace to fulfill demand, Microsoft would have a very difficult time at its current price point. What Microsoft is hoping for is the early lead helping to drive stronger installed base for them. It’s certainly helped them over the short term".

Hardcore and Mainstream

Dowling believes Wii will be the spoiler. He said the current generation battle offered consumers a choice of three consoles, but next generation has narrowed that choice to two high-end machines (PS3 and Xbox 360) and one low-priced mass market machine (Wii).

“Nintendo’s marketed Wii as a pick-up-and-play type of device and it seems to be resonating with consumers,” said Dowling. “It wasn’t just older hardcore gamer or younger player, Wii had a pretty wide distribution across age and gender".

Dowling said that the next generation battle is shaping up much differently than the current generation race. He said that if you look at the U.S. market share in terms of PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube, Microsoft has a 2 to 3 percentage-point lead over Nintendo.

“We’re seeing the opposite here with demand for the Wii,” said Dowling, who acknowledged that part of this demand is the lower price point of the console. “People are saying they want to wait and see what PS3 is going to be before they buy an Xbox 360 or Wii".

Despite the fact that Xbox 360 has been on store shelves for almost a year, Dowling said Microsoft’s console is still attracting very hardcore gamers.

The research also found that despite all of the bells and whistles of PS3 and Xbox 360 with next generation DVD capabilities, online gaming and downloadable content, the key driver for consumers purchasing a new console was the games, especially exclusive games.

The media study is called, “Interpreting the New Media Landscape.” Dowling said the research shows that the new media revolution is real and only getting bigger. The 100-page report shows how television, movie and video game content can double, triple, even quadruple its reach through the embrace of new platforms and business models.


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