When two must fight over one

And both are similar to one another,
They must evolve.
If one becomes successful,
The other must find a way to win,
Or find another to pursue.
What are developers making?

A Tale of Two Consoles

Circles. Circles everywhere. But not a drop to drink. Circles: Dev by Genre Color: Genre Size: Number titles of Dev in Genre Sort: Most Titles in Genre (inner--outer) Source: VGChartz
[1] Circles. Circles everywhere. But not a drop to drink.
Circles: Dev by Genre
Color: Genre
Size: Number titles of Dev in Genre
Sort: Most Titles in Genre (inner–outer)
Source: VGChartz
When a game is developed, developers try to keep in mind the audience that they are trying to reach. What the above [1] shows is where their focus is being put with many games opting to stay in the traditionally popular categories of Action and Sports, with fewer and fewer developers focusing on genres that typically swing towards one series in particular. Fighting games have their Street Fighters taking up the majority of its audience, Gran Turismo taking up the Racing genre, etc… But what’s important is to focus on the differences between the consoles, in particular the PS3 and the Xbox 360 since we already focus on the Wii last time and the conclusion was that it was a gimmick machine that printed money for Nintendo and Ubisoft, but rarely for any other developer. LINK

This is not a tale of triumph, one of mischief or of woe.
It is a tale of rivals, finding a crowd for which they’d know.

The Two Trends

All I see is shooters, coming at me from all directions. Number of Shooters per year by console. Color: Console
[2] All I see is shooters, coming at me from all directions.
Number of Shooters per year by console.
Color: Console
All we play are Shooters, going towards you from all directions. Sales for Shooters per year Color: Console
[3] All we play are Shooters, going towards you from all directions.
Sales for Shooters per year
Color: Console
Shooting for nights, Shooting for days, years and generations. Average Shooter Sales per Year Color: Console
[4] Shooting for nights, Shooting for days, years and generations.
Average Shooter Sales per Year
Color: Console

Xbox:

What’s the most obvious sight here is just how well Shooters sell on Xbox360 compared to the PS3[3]. With a considerable lead year to year in sales and a much bigger emphasis on Shooters when transitioning from the Xbox to the X360 compared to the PS2 to PS3. You can attribute this to a few aspects. The first being Xbox having a jump on the console online-gaming market with Xbox Live launching in 2002, and we see an up-swing in the average game sales [4] around the 18-24 month mark after launch, the general time it takes for games to implement any new feature, in this case the online-multiplayer feature, into their games. But compared to the Xbox, X360 users adopted the genre heavily out of the gate with high sales and high average sales across the years.

When they were younger, Xbox and PS2,
They fought for an audience, for each this grew.
But as time passed, and evolved consoles did,
The crowd moved to the Xbox, for the PS it slid.

What’s also more interesting about this is more developers started continually pushing out more Shooters after the X360 launch until 2009 where the number of shooters saw its first turn away from increasing numbers. But with more and more shooters saturating the market, we still see an increase in average shooter sales across the near majority of the X360s lifetime.

“But I thought the Shooter market was being overly saturated causing a staleness in the genre?”

What’s important to note, however, is that most sales go exclusively towards Call of Duty, Halo, Bioshock, Gears of War, Battlefield, etc… If you think it’s a well-known title, it probably has the majority of the sales.

Just because there's more of you, means that you'll be heard equally loudly. Xbox Years: 2005-2013 Shooter Sales.
[5] Just because there’s more of you, means that you’ll be heard equally loudly.
Xbox
Years: 2005-2013
Shooter Sales.

Top Sellers going between Treyarch and Infinity Ward almost every year with second and third place varying, but aside from a handful of developers, other titles just can’t compete [5]. With titles like Turok and Fracture passing the Shooter market by with making the smallest of dents in the communal memory, it’s almost a wonder why so many developers tried to push more and more shooters out in the first place. It’s almost as if the audience for Shooters only focus on the Major titles and have a blindness for anything that they’re not familiar with, or that the experience that you get from the heavy-selling titles is just so drastically different that it’s hard to get behind, or it could even be as simple as the game being a sack of garbage. That’s left for a different analysis.

Only a few shooters held the Xbox crowd happy,
While the rest left them upset, because they were just crappy.

PS3:

Developers for the PlayStation 2 pushed out a fair amount of shooters near the end of its lifetime and was able to compete with the Xbox in sales over the Shooter market, but when the X360 came out, it took a few years for the PS3 to get its foot in the door as far effectively selling Shooter titles. A lot of the market complained about how useless the PlayStation Network (PSN) was at connectivity and supporting Online-gaming and this could be a large reason why the market was so delayed in taking off, but the PS3 market was still able to grow in its Shooter Sales similar to how the X360 Market grew. The problem being that the PS3 was never able to command the Shooter market the same was that the X360 could, and this is extremely apparent in 2012 [4] where the disparity in Average Sales is the largest between the two consoles.

The thing with the PS3 is that it seemed to focus more outside of the Shooter realm, developing more of what the X360 wasn’t going to.

We can make out differences our strengths, if you know who wants to listen Left: Number of Titles per Genre per Console Right: Number of Exclusives per Genre per Console
[6]We can make out differences our strengths, if you know who wants to listen
Left: Number of Titles per Genre per Console
Right: Number of Exclusives per Genre per Console
The difference between the PS3 and the Xbox360 is that the PS3 focused on Action games far more than the X360 did whereas the X360 focused on Shooters much more[6]. With a staggering difference in the number of exclusives for the two genres between the PS3 and X360, games like God of War, Yakuza, Tomb Raider, inFamous, and Uncharted make the PS3-Action library a contender for those looking for different sort of thrills than the Xbox’s Halo, Gears of War and Crackdown as its heavy-selling exclusive-contenders.

The PS moved on, to find out its crowd,
Was Action games with Drake and Kratos cried loud!

It’s also apparent that developers focused on or accidentally created the Action-heavy PlayStation market when you look at how many of the titles they started to pump out over the years.

And my differences allow me to fight. Action Titles per year Color: Console
[7] And my differences allow me to fight.
Action Titles per year
Color: Console
My differences fall on the ears of others. Action Sales per year Color: Console
[8] My differences fall on the ears of others.
Action Sales per year
Color: Console
But again, only a few have the loudest voice. Average Action Sales Color: Console
[9] But again, only a few have the loudest voice.
Average Action Sales
Color: Console
The PS3 almost exclusively held the lead in the Action game market with its highest average sales in 2008 [9], but X360 seemed to catch up at the end of console life in 2013. The catch-up happened because of the trend we saw in the Shooter genre, only a handful of Action-games were selling exceptionally and the rest were not.

But like the Xbox, with many Action games made,
Strayed many of the crowd which saw other games degrade.

With a clear audience, I know what they want to hear. Total Sales by Genre by Dev on Xbox360 Circle: Dev by Genre Size: Totals Sales by Dev Color: Genre Order: Most Sales by Genre (inner-outer)
With a clear audience, I know what they want to hear.
Total Sales by Genre by Dev on Xbox360
Circle: Dev by Genre
Size: Totals Sales by Dev
Color: Genre
Order: Most Sales by Genre (inner-outer)
With my own audience, I know what to say. Total Sales by Genre by Dev on PS3 Circle: Dev by Genre Size: Totals Sales by Dev Color: Genre Order: Most Sales by Genre (inner-outer)
With my own audience, I know what to say.
Total Sales by Genre by Dev on PS3
Circle: Dev by Genre
Size: Totals Sales by Dev
Color: Genre
Order: Most Sales by Genre (inner-outer)

Game markets are hard to peg and sometimes it has to come out of the community to find out what their market should focus on. Action games have a bigger payoff on the PS3, and Shooters have a bigger payoff on the Xbox, but in comparison it’s not by much. ~20% more sales for Shooters on the Xbox and ~10% more sales for Action games on the PS3 is enough to make some assumptions about the community but not enough to make sweeping generalizations about them. It’s still a bit too early to see if this continues with the current-gen (PS4/XboxOne) but developers respond to what we by, not the other way around.

While both lay claim to crowd
Of Action and Shooter,
Neither eclipsing the other,
Enough to have them neuter(ed). (–damnit)

Any comments or suggestions on what to look into next, leave me a msg or comment below.

Previous Entries in this Series:

Gaming on Data p1

Gaming on Data p2

Future posts

Source:

All data in this post was scrapped publically from VGChartz.com and any inconsistency in the data is likely due to unreported information towards VGChartz.com as well as improper handling of scrapping by myself. I argue that this is minimal because games that do well and that make up a large portion of trends is from publishers willing to advertise their successful(larger) sales numbers, and less successful games that don’t constitute a noticeable trends have lower sales figures to contribute heavily towards analysis. But without these numbers, this is hard to say definitively.

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