Sony reported its latest financial results overnight, and the numbers put the PlayStation 3 back atop the worldwide console market for the March quarter. But that ain’t saying much.
In a sign of the current weakness of the game console market, the PS3 reclaimed the title despite seeing its unit sales decline to 1.9 million units, slipping from 2.1 million units in the same quarter a year ago.
Microsoft’s Xbox 360, which has been dominating the U.S. market and won the head-to-head worldwide sales race for the first time in 2011, saw its sales fall nearly 50 percent in the latest quarter, to 1.4 million, according to Microsoft’s recent financial results.
And the Wii finished the quarter with less than 1 million units sold for the first time since its launch, as Nintendo posted its first annual loss. Nintendo is counting on the upcoming launch of the Wii U to help reverse its fortunes.
The big question is whether this is a cyclical trend, as the consoles approach the end of their life cycles, or something more structural. Mobile phones and tablets are becoming bigger platforms for games. The consoles also face broader competition from other types of living-room devices as they morph into multipurpose machines for streaming shows and movies.
Earlier this week, Microsoft made a bid to juice Xbox 360 unit sales by cutting the price of a 4GB Xbox 360 with Kinect to $99 with a two-year Xbox Live subscription. If the current sales trends continue, look more of that type of creativity from the major console makers.