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Consoleation: Q4 2010 Predictions

Peter Skerritt's picture

Now that we're into the key final quarter of 2010, it's time to gaze into the Consoleation Crystal Ball and make some predictions as to how key hardware and software players will perform.

The Console Wars

Halo: Reach Screenshot

It's become pretty evident to me that 2010 has been—and will continue to be—the year of the Xbox 360. Microsoft caught a few breaks (like the Great PlayStation 3 Shortage of 2010), but has generally made its own luck this year. Q4 will maintain that strength for Microsoft, and you need to only look at the release schedule. Halo: Reach will continue its strong sales through Q4. October brings strong multiplatform sales from NBA 2K11, Fallout: New Vegas, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, and possibly Medal of Honor… in addition to the release of Fable III late in the month. November will be about Kinect's debut and Call of Duty: Black Ops; even though Black Ops is a multiplatform title, it's no secret that reservations have been strongly skewed towards the 360. I fully expect sales to continue strong in December for the 360 with residuals from the aforementioned titles. The Xbox 360 will be the best-selling system of 2010.

Donkey Kong Country Returns Screenshot

As for Nintendo, it's unclear what they're hoping for this season. For the Wii, Kirby will be a wild card this month, and Donkey Kong Country Returns will probably sell pretty well in November—although it won't come close to what a Mario or Zelda game would have pulled in. There's a lot of interest in Epic Mickey, and advertising is just now beginning in earnest. The future of that game's exclusivity is in doubt, however; Disney has been developing a strong relationship with Sony behind the scenes and I can easily see a port or Director's Cut of Epic Mickey for the PlayStation 3 next year using PlayStation Move functionality.

GoldenEye 007 will end up competing with Black Ops on the Wii, and sales will likely cancel each other out. The Wii will finish 2010 behind the Xbox 360, but in front of the PlayStation 3.Uncertainty isn't solely a Wii problem, either; now that the news about the 3DS is out of the bag, what is the future of current DS platforms? Despite the new arrival in March, I can still see strong sales for the DS platform this holiday season… especially for DS Lite units, due to their relatively inexpensive price tag and the continued strength of IPs like Pokemon and Mario. It's clear to me that Nintendo is willing to live with a relatively average season (by their standards) in exchange for what will likely be an impressive 2011 behind the 3DS launch.

Gran Turismo 5 Screenshot

While not one Sony employee will admit this, I think that Sony is going to accept 2010 as a Microsoft year and will be gearing up for a strong 2011. With the unfortunate recent delay of Little Big Planet 2 to go along with losing SOCOM 4 to 2011 as well, Sony is left to key on PlayStation Move and Gran Turismo 5 as their big movers for Q4. While PlayStation Move is quite impressive, the games are slow to arrive and they're still finding an identity. Some games are good (Sports Champions, The Shoot, Tumble), some are bad (Aragorn's Quest, Kung Fu Riders), and others are just… there. It's an adjustment period for developers and publishers as they attempt to get a feel for the new tech and how to best adapt it.

Gran Turismo 5 is certainly impressive, but I think that it's a bit too niche and many consumers who have been waiting for it for so long seem to have soured a bit on it. That's not to say that Gran Turismo 5 won't sell well—but when matched up against Black Ops, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, and even another racer in Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, the potential early sales success of the game will be affected by limited spending budgets and too many choices. The PlayStation 3 will finish 2010 in third place and with an eye on better results next year.

Kinect Versus Move

Dance Central Screenshot

This is a pretty interesting battle for Q4. Move got out to an early start and has been available in limited supply. Reviews of the tech have been good, and I agree with those assessments. More Move titles are needed, however, to keep the interest level up… and that could be a problem for the rest of this year. There are Move games with strong sales and/or quality potential coming, such as The Shoot, Time Crisis: Razing Storm, TV Superstars, and The Fight… but will they be lost in the annual holiday software shuffle? Will people still be interested since the season's biggest titles won't be using the tech? Move also has to compete with the debut of Kinect, which has already exceeded pre-order allocation demand with GameStop and NewEgg. (Amazon.com seems to still have units available for pre-order.- Ed)

It's no secret that Microsoft is banking on a strong debut for Kinect, and strong marketing and advertising campaigns support this. It's also a new tech for what is the hottest-selling console right now, so the assumption is that users are going to want in for the hot item this holiday season. Microsoft is having to rely on marketing and advertising, because reviews of Kinect have been quite mixed and the prevailing feeling among many existing Xbox 360 owners is that Microsoft is basically changing course away from them and towards a much more casual audience. With only 2 months, it can likely be forgiven that games for Kinect will be relatively sparse, and I think that Kinect will wind up outselling Move tech for Q4. Dance Central has been getting a lot of hype for music game fans, and the selection of family games for this holiday season may convince parents to make the investment.

Medal of Honor Versus Black Ops

Call of Duty: Black Ops Screenshot

In spite of a head start of almost a month, Medal of Honor has no chance to pose even a mild threat to what will be a dominant sales performance by Call of Duty: Black Ops in November. Electronic Arts has tried to get the game noticed—there was an open beta (which was heavily flawed), there was controversy, and there's even the allure of making the game feel and look similar to the world's favorite FPS IP. The problem is that the Medal of Honor IP has been dormant for far too long and moving it away from its familiar theatres of World War II in order to put together a "me too" Modern Warfare game will do nothing for consumers. There is a constant thirst for FPS titles, so I think that Medal of Honor may post decent sales results for October… but, come November, Black Ops will dispatch Medal of Honor with a sales headshot. In fact, Call of Duty: Black Ops will be the biggest-selling software title of 2010. The more interesting question for Medal of Honor will be whether it sells well in October and whether it's a decent game when all is said and done.

There will certainly be a lot to talk about in the coming weeks as we wind down 2010. We'll see how these predictions hold up, and hopefully there will be some more free time to talk about sales trends with a bit more analysis. In the meantime, be sure to follow my Twitter feed for on-the-job retail observations and rapid-fire reactions, reviews, impressions, and more.

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Platform(s): Xbox 360   Wii   PS3   Nintendo DS   PSP  
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COD

I really wish there was a site that did not ever talk about Call of Duty. I mean yea, it is the biggest game of any year. I ALREADY know that. It IS going to get good reviews by all the big sites (for whatever reason).

The thing is, COD has morphed into a year-round circus. As soon as the news of one card starts to die down because a game was just released, the next one has information "leaked" about it within a week or two to keep interest at a max.

I am not knocking this article or anything, I just actually wish there wasn't a site always talking about that damn game.

Weak line-up from Nintendo

Don't know why but I always assumed that Nintendo had more going for it this holiday season than Kirby's Epic Yarn and Donkey Kong Country Returns. I mean, talk about a weak line-up.

One the up side, third parties are coming through this year. Disney's Epic Mickey has been getting a ton of praise and Activision is delivering both GoldenEye 007 and Call of Duty: Black Ops for the Wii. The down side is that neither of these will sell. I just don't see the GoldenEye love coming from Wii owners; most of those gamers have long since moved onto Xboxes or PlayStations. Also, they aren't about to drop $50 for a remake. Black Ops faces a similar problem cause there isn't a market on the Wii for FPS's.

Even so I still see the Wii selling big this holiday season, maybe going out with a bang. At $199, it is still a great deal and in this economy it will make a nice X-mas gift. There is still some buzz left about the Wii that could reawaken during the holidays.

Neh...

Black Ops won't be a big hit as Modern Warfare 2 was. It's still a Treyarch game and they were responsible for the weaker titles in the series. After playing World At War, I'm not really keen on the next Treyarch COD and will stay pretty far away from Black Ops. That said: Medal of Honor doesn't blast me away either. But if I desperately feel like spending money on yet another military shooter, I might just save it for Homefront.

About the console wars: I'm getting tired of this. I won't loose many words on that. The only thing the 360 really has in it's favor right now is Reach. Since Reach is the last of it's era, they better cash in as much as possible. Kinect and Move both have to come up with games that prove that they are more than Wii-clones, before they are worth the price of admission.

Gran Turismo 5 niche?

"GT5 niche"
Since when is a very predictable multi million seller niche?
A shitload of cars and race classes, so almost every racing game fan might want it.
I assume it will be a) a small system seller and b) a long runner. + tons of DLC?
It's sort of a definite racing game compilation in contrary to NfS, Blur, Split Second, Motorstorm... that are almost forgotten the day they are released.

Dale Weir wrote:

talk about a weak line-up.

Kirby, DK and Mickey look all quite good, but without more support from those incapable third parties it's definitely thin.
Depending on the success of the other motion devices the wii's run might get to an immediate halt very soon.
Latest at the next E3 they must show some sort of wii HD.

Quote:

there isn't a market on the Wii for FPS's.

MW: Reflex sold some million. For too late pretty good. And so did Cod5.
It might not be as huge as on XBox but i think there are many gamers who want some good shooters for their SD console.

Move and Kinect

This is not quite Q4 talk, but Move and Kinect still have leave so many questioned unanswered.

I'm really eager to see how third parties (and I guess Sony and Microsoft) handle Move and Kinect games going forward.

When it came to the Wii, third parties complained about processing power, having to shoehorn motion controls into games and nothing but mini-games and party-games selling on the system. Can third parties make a successful Call of Duty game with Kinect or Move controls? Would Activision, or companies like Activision even want to? Would Sony or Microsoft encourage them too? Or will we just see the same thing that happened with the Wii, but on the 360 and PS3?

Processing power is probably not a prob with the 360 and PS3, but what about integrating motion-controls in traditional games? Is anyone clamoring for that?

And who when looking at the PS3 or 360, are there casual gamers who want to drop $300 for a console when the Wii is already there for $200?

There are a lot of questions that the Wii never answered given Nintendo's handling of third parties and its own first-party software. I don't doubt Kinect and Move will sell, but from what they have shown and what little we know about the future, I can't even guess what will happen.

Who wants a FPS on Wii?

crackajack wrote:

Since when is a very predictable multi million seller niche?
A shitload of cars and race classes, so almost every racing game fan might want it.

Gotta agree with Crackajack here. Even the weakest of all the Gran Turismo games, GT4, managed to sell 6.25 million worldwide.

crackajack wrote:

Kirby, DK and Mickey look all quite good, but without more support from those incapable third parties it's definitely thin.

You could say since they were so incapable that it wouldn't matter. I just thought Nintendo itself had more bullets in the chamber. After Kirby--you want to talk niche--and DKC Returns, there's nothing to excite the non-fanboys.

crackajack wrote:

there isn't a market on the Wii for FPS's. MW: Reflex sold some million. For too late pretty good. And so did Cod5. It might not be as huge as on XBox but i think there are many gamers who want some good shooters for their SD console.

If by Cod5, you mean World at War, then that means those two games and Metroid Prime 3 were the only FPS that sold well on the Wii. There were others in between Reflex and World at War that tanked leaving developers to just release on-rail shooters, which also tanked. There may have once been a window open for someone to release a successful FPS, but that window closed long ago.

GT4 not the weakest

Dale Weir wrote:
Quote:

Since when is a very predictable multi million seller niche? A shitload of cars and race classes, so almost every racing game fan might want it.

Gotta agree with Crackajack here. Even the weakest of all the Gran Turismo games, GT4, managed to sell 6.25 million worldwide.

I don't believe GT4 was the weakest, but it came at a time when the PS2 was starting to wind down.

GT5, on the other hand, is going to be a huge title for Europe and Japan, where racing games and GT are system sellers. The Nascar license might help sales in North America as well. I have a feeling this will be the biggest selling GT title in the long run.

Re: GT4 not the weakest

gamevet wrote:

I don't believe GT4 was the weakest, but it came at a time when the PS2 was starting to wind down.

GT5, on the other hand, is going to be a huge title for Europe and Japan, where racing games and GT are system sellers. The Nascar license might help sales in North America as well. I have a feeling this will be the biggest selling GT title in the long run.

Ok, "weakest" may have come off as a bit harsh, but I only meant in terms of reception. The press and gamers still loved the game as they did all other GT games, but it got the lowest average score in the series (that came to America), sold the fewest total copies and was one of the releases that was just kind of there.

As for GT5, it had better sell. It has been delayed so many times while still shown (mostly on video) at trade shows for so many years that Sony is risking some apathy from gamers. In its defense, it certainly sounds like Polyphony Digital has been using the time to cram every single possible car/racing feature a car fanatic would want into the game. Let's see if Polyphony Digital can put it all onto a disc and give us the definitive racing/driving simulator it's supposed to be.

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