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While they continue to be an unstoppable force, the most interesting story - which we first covered last month - continues to be the battle between Sony's PlayStation 3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360. For the second month in a row, the results were in favor of the PS3, as it barely edged out the Xbox 360.
Microsoft did reiterate repeatedly that supply constraints continue to hinder hardware sales, but also claimed that those constraints should ease up soon. Here's the Xbox 360 to PlayStation 3 sales ratio graph with simExchange predictions for March and April:
Given the current circumstances and the likelihood that supply constraints will ease, the prediction market continues to expect a close race between the Xbox 360 and the PS3.
In fact, those users voting with virtual stocks expect the Xbox 360 to edge a small victory over PlayStation 3 in the U.S. in both March and April. But, taking into account a small margin of error, either system could come out ahead.
What makes these figures significant is that, at the current trend, neither the PS3 nor the Xbox 360 will be able to claim victory over each other in 2008.
Naturally, you can expect one of the two companies to implement new strategies in the next few months to break this trend; after all, neither Sony nor Microsoft has ever accepted a tie as victory.
The vital question still remains, who will be next to draw their guns in this next-generation showdown? A review of year to date sales shows the struggle for second place, including March and April projections:
In early 2008, Sony successfully secured a vital victory in the high-definition format war, which seems to have acted as a catalyst for the current trend in PS3 sales. Given that it was Sony that made the last move, it is only reasonable to expect that it is now Microsoft’s turn to respond.
This analyst’s best guess is that Microsoft will likely wait and gauge sales as their supply constraints ease. But if figures show that they cannot significantly edge out the PS3, then they will likely institute a hardware price reduction similar to what we've just witnessed in Europe.
Other possible strategies could include software bundling (especially with high-profile titles such as Gears Of War under Microsoft's publishing control), and long-term strategies could include adding new hardware features and/or new online service features.
[Jesse Divnich is the analyst for the simExchange, a prediction market that allows users to buy and sell fake video game stocks in attempts to predict Global Lifetime Sales (GLS), monthly sales based on NPD data(called “future”), and Metacritic scores. Watch for further data on February sales and March predictions throughout the week.]