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Microsoft's Greenberg: 'PS3 Business' Is 'Hemorrhaging At Retail'
Microsoft's Greenberg: 'PS3 Business' Is 'Hemorrhaging At Retail' Exclusive
March 20, 2009 | By Chris Remo

March 20, 2009 | By Chris Remo
More: Console/PC, Exclusive

Following the release of NPD sales figures, Microsoft trumpeted its significant 53 percent year-over-year Xbox 360 sales boost -- and slammed primary competitor Sony.

Speaking to Gamasutra, Xbox 360 product management director Aaron Greenberg largely pinned the gain on continuing momentum, and said it outperformed external expectations.

"That exceeds even the high end of what analysts projected we would do for the month," he said. "I think the highest I saw was roughly 30 percent. We've had multiple months now of sustained year over year growth, which is fantastic."

As in past months, Greenberg highlighted the critical success of its titles -- "We have over 130 titles rated over 80 on Metacritic; no other platform even has 100 at that level," he pointed out -- as well as a per-system average software attach rate of 8.2, along with exclusive online content.

Chief among that exclusive content in February was Rockstar North's Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost & Damned expansion distributed solely through Xbox Live. Greenberg did not reveal specific numbers, but did reiterate that it was "the most successful game add-on content we've ever launched."

"If that content was sold at retail, it would be one of the best sellers across all platforms," he added. "It would have outsold Killzone 2."

(Guerrilla Games' PlayStation 3-exclusive Killzone 2 sold 323,000 units in February, but while The Lost & Damned was on sale for nearly two weeks in that month, Killzone 2 was on sale for only several days.)

Greenberg declined to share specific sales data for any Live content, but noted that EA Canada's NCAA Basketball 09: March Madness Edition, recently launched over Xbox Live, has also been "very successful," in part due to the promotional mechanisms built into Live's current interface.

"It's another example of a great way to leverage Live to provide content that's very timely. You could never really deliver that kind of experience at retail," he said. "When people get [their games] in the Spotlight channel, it's in the millions of people who are clicking and looking and downloading. With our community being over 17 million, the scale when we get into some of those featured items is pretty big."

The executive painted a particularly bleak picture of the PlayStation brand at retail, saying retail partners have characterized it as "hemorrhaging," in part because many existing PlayStation 2 owners are migrating to Xbox 360 rather than PlayStation 3.

"You can't underestimate that we're half the price of the PS3 at a time when consumers were looking for great value," he said. "The PS3 was down in February two percent even with the launch of Killzone 2 -- that's months of year-over-year declines. Xbox continues to head north while the PS3 is heading south. We're gaining share."

"But what we hear from our partners is that it's not just PS3, it's also PS2 down 62 percent year over year," he continued. "With that business declining, and with the PS3 business declining, it's been described to me as hemorrhaging at retail right now, and it just keeps getting worse.

"What we're finding in our research is that a large portion of the volume we're driving with Xbox 360 purchasers is actually PS2 owners choosing Xbox for the next generation. We're switching people from the PlayStation brand over to the Xbox brand."

The Xbox 360 version of Street Fighter IV outsold its PlayStation 3 counterpart in February, but only by about 11 percent; the two games occupied the second and third places in the month's software top ten. "We're hearing the same early returns for Resident Evil," Greenberg noted. He said what's more important is the growing perception that brands formerly associated with PlayStation are now also available on Xbox.

"Not only is [Resident Evil 5] selling more, but we did a limited edition Elite bundle with that as well -- so we've obviously benefited from having this deep partnership with Capcom, and we're excited to have the Resident Evil franchise for the first time ever on our platform," he said. "That follows in the steps of [franchises like] Grand Theft Auto -- and we all know Final Fantasy is coming -- that have been historically associated with PlayStation."

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Mark Williams
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I wouldn't be too proud of the SFIV numbers. It's great the game has sold what it has but given the 360 has 14million users and the PS3 has 7million users in the US, it only edged the PS3 out by 43k units. Why aren't more 360 owners gravitating to this title? It will be great to see the RE5 numbers next month. With that said, I would like to see Microsoft have more 1st party title releases and not relying so much on 3rd party content but that is a different story.

Sony, numbers continue to be down year over year for all your platforms, what exactly will you do about that? Your "value" campaign doesn't seem to be working itself out and you certainly have proven that you don't care about marketing. 2009 fiscal year is right around the corner, I think you have stretched your value spreadsheet as far as you can for fiscal 08...

Jay Lee
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Disagree in total to said above. Rare case does the PS3 version of any 3rd party game perform better than the 360 version in the US and this runs across genres. Take COD: WAW, over 2 million difference between the two just so far. Over a million difference in NPD for GTA IV. Likely over a million for Fallout 3 at this point. Take a look at COD4, AC, Madden 09, you name the title and there will be at least a million difference, and a whole lot more when it comes to shooters. PS3 owners tend to gravitate toward fighters and Capcom titles that is pretty much the bottom line versus 360 owners that have much more selection to choose from for A titles. 8.2 attach rate at this far along in the console generation says it all as far as software goes on the platform. RE5 should be interesting as its simply not just a fighter and MS has the exclusive bundle for the entire western territory, which is a sale for Capcom every time. Hard to judge sales on the bundle so far, but it has sold out multiple times on Amazon since it hit.

Yema Latify
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"We have over 130 titles rated over 80 on Metacritic; no other platform even has 100 at that level," he pointed out"

Hmm, no other platform? PS2 seems to have 320 games over 80 on Metacritic. Microsoft again with the deceit.

Amir Sharar
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Mark said: "It's great the game has sold what it has but given the 360 has 14million users and the PS3 has 7million users in the US, it only edged the PS3 out by 43k units. Why aren't more 360 owners gravitating to this title?"

There are a few prominent reasons.

One being the D-Pad on the 360 controller being very poor (there is an issue with the sensors [can be resolved with a tape mod] and the responsiveness [can be resolved with a "shave" mod]) for use in any game quite frankly. The PS3's D-Pad is far more responsive (though less comfortable than D-Pads of other consoles). This makes SF4 more playable on the PS3 if you stick with D-Pads (the analog sticks work very well for the game on both consoles).

Secondly, all tournaments and tournament training for SF3 was done on the PS2 (despite the game being on the Dreamcast and Xbox), so it's a natural move to the PS3 for many of these tournament players.

And also as Jay has mentioned PS3 owners gravitate towards fighters, Soul Calibur 4 sold much better on the PS3 than on the 360, IIRC something in the range of a 2:1 ratio, initially.

I expected the PS3 version to slightly outsell the 360 version because of these 3 reasons.

The success of GTA4: The Lost and the Damned is very interesting as it is something that may change the industry, as it is something that has gotten more attention than the similarly ambitious DLC Mass Effect received. This could be in part due to the widespread advertising campaign that went behind it. I wonder if it will send a signal to Publishers that Digital Content (whether games on PSN/XBLA/Steam...or DLC add-ons for retail games) can sell very well with that extra advertising push to make consumers more aware of them.

My hope is that because of this recent success that services like PSN and XBLA and their games get a bit of an advertising push to make gamers more aware of them (attention I think these games deserve). Frankly speaking the sales of 99% of PSN/XBLA games are no where near comparable to the sales of The Lost and the Damned (judging by estimates for both because neither have solid numbers).

Will Southerland
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One reason SFIV sells so much on the PS3 is because it is like one of the only quality games launched on that platform. I might purchase a PS3 if it didn't have like 5 good games. Go to, click he PS3 tab and lol at how pathetic their list is. Nobody cares about the PS2 anymore just like we don't care about the Atari.

The fact is a developer can write a game for the PC and the XBOX at the same time with very little friction. It's so much easier that Microsoft has released tools so average developers can write games for the XBOX for free. This is the same thing they did for the PC during the IBM/Apple era and we see what happened. You will have a whole generation developing games for the XBOX and the gap will widen even more. Developing for the PS3 is an expensive nightmare.

Kouga Saejima
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Dear Mr. Southerland,

please take a look at following page

The PS3 has 139 "good" games you could choose from (approx 45 exclusives) (approx 90 80+games).

The reason people bought so many SFIV copies is because of the better D-pad and because "fighters" sell at a better ratio on this platform (see Virtua Fighter 5).

Back on topic. I'm getting sick of Mr. Greenbergs smacktalk. Doesn't he know anything about honor and dignity? A man in his position should know better.

Ben Hopper
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Yeah, this kind of stuff leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Doughy white man trumpeting his company's superiority and trashing their competitors. All I know is I'll never have to send my PS3 back to Sony for routine repairs. Xbox Live is a great service, but the Xbox itself is cheap piece of poop.