Grace Huang and Takashi Amano:

Sony will also take about 25 billion yen of impairment charges for its overseas disc manufacturing operations as demand slumps. Sony has nine production sites outside of Japan producing compact discs, including factories in the U.S., Russia, Australia and India, Kurata said.

I had completely forgotten that Sony created the compact disc — let alone that they were still making them. That this is a bullet point in this story says just about all you need to know about the state of Sony. 

Joshua Hunt:

Commissaries often carry other, bargain-brand radios, but according to former inmates and employees of the Bureau of Prisons and the Keefe Group, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, America’s federal prisoners are most likely to own a Sony. Melissa Dolan, a Sony spokesperson, confirmed in an e-mail that selling portable radios in American prisons has long been a “stable business” that represents “sizable” sales for the company. Of the models available, the SRF-39FP remains an undisputed classic, still found on commissary lists an impressive fifteen years after its initial release, making it nearly as common behind prison walls as Apple’s iPod once was outside of them, despite competition from newer devices like digital radios and MP3 players.

Fascinating. Though I’m not sure this is a metric Sony would ever want to tout.

Update: David Ulevitch provides the goods. My response.

Natasha Lomas on how the numbers are shaping up so far in the gaming console space:

The thing is neither of these new generation console flagships is selling very well when compared with previous generations of flagship consoles. The console market appears to be shrinking significantly — and that’s evidently having a knock-on impact on games studios and game development.

At this relatively early stage the new generation stacks up as follows: Wii U at 6 million, XB1 at ~4 million and PS4 at 6 million: a total of ~16 million. So only around 244 million to go — just to perform as well as the last generation. But with game budgets increasing a flat console market isn’t a good thing. This new generation needs to be outselling the last, not looking like it’s going to have a really tough time shipping the same.

I hate to say “I told you so” …but, well, I did.

Samit Sarkar:

Sony is planning to close 20 of the 31 extant Sony Store locations in the U.S. by the end of the year, the company announced today.

Wait, there are still Sony Stores? 31 of them?!

But seriously, how crazy is it that in an age where Apple Stores are thriving more than any other consumer retail stores — period — Sony, which was the frontrunner in this regard, has totally failed.

It just shows once again that the only thing that matters is the product. Sony used to make great products, and the stores thrived. Lately, it has largely been stuff no one wants and well…

Ben Kuchera has a few good thoughts on how to save Nintendo:

Some ideas? Get aggressive about releasing Nintendo’s back catalog of NES, SNES, Game Boy, and Nintendo 64 games, and make sure each purchase works across all your devices. If you buy Mario 64 to play on your Wii U, you should be able to also play on your 3DS. Nintendo’s collection of amazing games from the past is one of its biggest strengths, and it’s rarely leveraged in a serious way.

Even better? Offer classic games in higher resolution. Emulators and hacked-together programs have allowed players to enjoy Nintendo classics with updated graphics, maybe it’s time to start offering this option in a way that allows players to support the company directly. The downside is that this approach would limit the ability to make a big deal out of games like The Wind Waker HD, but these releases don’t happen with any regularity.

Right now, most people view Nintendo’s inability to compete on the future of gaming with the likes of Sony, Microsoft, and others as a huge negative. But the focus should be on the past. That’s Nintendo’s strength. All that great IP. They should should play to their “weakness” and turn it into a strength.

Imagine a simple $99 - $199 box that focused on the ability to play retro Nintendo games as well as updated versions (better graphics, more levels, etc) of old classics. Nintendo could then start creating new, simple fun games for this box as well. And then they could open the box to third-parties to create their own simple titles — and not just the large game studios, but independents. Again, with a focus on simplicity and fun.

In many ways, it would be the anti-Microsoft/Sony strategy. It would be borrowing a page out of Apple’s iOS playbook — but again, with the benefit of all those years of great gaming IP and expertise.

Does anyone think such a box wouldn’t be a massive seller? Make it happen, Nintendo. Or stop wasting time and start moving your games over to iOS.

Jeffrey Grubb on the latest numbers from the NPD Group:

Gamers and holiday shoppers were obviously drawn to retail outlets to pick up the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 systems from Microsoft and Sony. While those new boxes sold well, the Xbox One’s $500 price and PlayStation 4′s $400 price left little for consumers to spend on games.

Software sales were down 17 percent from $1.54 billion in 2012 to $1.2 billion in 2013. Essentially, consumers are spending just a little bit more on gaming, but most of that is going into buying the new systems.

This strikes me as a much more optimistic take than it should be. Yes, hardware sales were up — but only 28 percent over last year, despite the first two major console launches from Sony and Microsoft in seven years. And yes, there was talk of supply constraints, but these consoles are also significantly more expensive than their predecessors and sales were still only up 28 percent.

The fact that game sales were down 17 percent despite the aforementioned information is an awful sign. They’re blaming it on consumers spending too much money on the consoles, but it’s clearly more about a lack of must-have games — and the overall trend downward continuing for the industry.

Watch what happens next. My guess is that it’s not only Nintendo who starts to see red

tendoboy1984 asked:

Your article about Windows Phone being late to the market was an interesting read. Microsoft still has a chance to be successful though. Consider the Xbox for example... They were very late coming to the video game industry compared to Nintendo (Xbox came out in 2001, the NES came out in 1985). Despite this very late start, the Xbox brand is now as successful as Sony's PlayStation, and both consoles get all the big 3rd-party games.

While that’s true about Microsoft with the Xbox (and even Sony with the Playstation — a company that originally wanted to partner with Nintendo), the smartphone business is very different.

Thanks to apps, content, and things like iMessage, there is decidedly more lock-in in mobile. Yes, the video game consoles have some lock-in with their games, but because the business changed so much generation to generation (with mixed backward compatibility results), there were obvious “switch points”. That’s not quite the same with mobile.

More importantly, Microsoft (and Sony) could get into the gaming business because they could buy their way in with the large publishers of games. So far, that hasn’t worked for Microsoft with smaller app developers. While money is money, time is often more valuable to these small teams. And they’re not going to waste time on a platform with relatively few users.

Takashi Amano & Cliff Edwards are full of bad news ahead for Nintendo:

Nintendo Co.’s prospects for meeting its profit and sales forecasts for this year are diminishing after Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp. each sold more game consoles in 24 hours than the Wii U maker did in nine months.

Not good — especially when you consider:

President Satoru Iwata vowed in October he would meet a forecast for 100 billion yen ($974 million) in full-year operating profit and 9 million units in Wii U sales. Analysts are skeptical, with the average estimate for profit at 57 billion yen and for sales at 6.2 million units.

That’s a huge gap. We’ll see, but it’s definitely not looking good:

Those moves may not be enough to make up lost ground, as the company sold just 460,000 Wii U machines in the six months ended Sept. 30, about 5 percent of its target for the fiscal year. Nintendo reported a net loss of 8 billion yen in the quarter ended Sept. 30, saying Wii U hardware “still has a negative impact on Nintendo’s profits.”

Five percent of the yearly target, six months in. And:

Shares of Nintendo have lost 82 percent of their value since closing at 72,100 yen in November 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Yikes. And that’s with the stock gaining 41 percent this year. And:

The Wii U features a tablet-like, 6.2-inch touchscreen controller that lets players connect wirelessly to the console and shift the display between the device and a television. In the nine months from January through September, the company sold 850,000 — fewer than Sony and Microsoft did during the first day their new consoles were released.

Hard to overstate just how awful and embarrassing that is — especially since those consoles don’t seem that great either.

This is turning very ugly very quickly for Nintendo — which is sad, but not shocking.

Anonymous asked:

A few video game notes: The PS4 controller has received near-unanimous praise for being one of the best controllers ever made. Most consoles launch fairly lacklustre -- the PS2 and DS had awful launch lineups. This iOS vs consoles narrative is at odds with how gamers actually look at this stuff -- it's like saying YouTube is going to destroy Hollywood. While tech pundits talk about Nintendo dying, they've sold close to 40m 3DSes, and are going into the holiday with a new Pokemon game.

Point 1: From what I’ve read, a lot of people are praising the PS4 controller, but mainly because the PS3 version was so bad. Also, the battery life on this one is apparently fairly awful. Overall, it still seems like people still like the Xbox controllers better, at least in my reading of the reviews.

Point 2: Sure, most console launches are fairly lackluster due to a lack of great games initially. But while this seems to be the case with the PS4, the parts of the reviews that worry me about the Xbox One are all about hardware/software included (or not included) with the system.

Point 3: Okay, except mobile gaming is already much larger than console gaming. And it will keep extending that lead. I’m not saying the consoles will be fully destroyed, just that they’ll be increasingly niche. And I wouldn’t be shocked to see at least two of the current players exit the space after this generation. 

Point 4: We’ve been over this. Some of Nintendo’s continued limited success (in one area, by the way) is masking very real and obvious problems with the business going forward. We’ll see. But sadly, I like my bet.

Anonymous asked:

Do you intend on trying out an Xbox One yourself or merely peddling other people's experiences on your blog? I understand you're not a fan of MS but your mindless reposts do your readers a great disservice.

I may. But all these reports from others sure make it seem like it would be a waste of money for me — just as the Surface RT was.

If I were to buy a system, just based on everything I’ve read, I’d get the PS4. But again, I’m not dying to get that either. 

But maybe, just maybe, for the readers.

And again, it’s not like things are all peachy for the PS4 either. John Mabry and Roger Jackson talked to Teague (the design consultancy firm that did the work on the original Xbox) for their thoughts on Sony’s new machine (which is widely considered to be better-looking than the new Xbox):

How it looks is a different story. We couldn’t help but notice a fundamental design disconnect between the controller and the PS4 console; so extreme in some cases that it was almost as though they were designed separately.

Some examples of this disconnect include: the consoles use of square grid-like patterns for venting, while the patterns and textures on the controller use circles. It’s an odd break in the design language, but minor. The choice of color is maybe the biggest question mark for us: The console is black-on-black. But texturing the controller introduces gray into the mix, muddling their visual relationship, for reasons that may forever be unknown.

There are attempts to pull the console and controller together, the matte surface is sliced open at the point of the d-pad and buttons to reveal the gloss piano black of the console, but even this execution prompts questions as to why the joystick islands didn’t follow suit.

At best, these are puzzling design choices. At worst, they’re complete oversights. But truth be told, they’ve got a much bigger issue to contend with: The controller has lost its iconic look. It feels like they tried so hard to improve the feel and play of the controller that they forgot to step back and look at their creation. As Creative Director David Wykes said, “It looks like a piece of clay that’s been worked with too much.”

It’s interesting that while much of the focus has always been about how the console boxes themselves look, the much more important element is how the controllers are designed. These are, after all, the true front-ends of the system.