- Following the release of April NPD data, Microsoft's Aaron Greenberg
says that he respects his competitors, but claims Sony in particular is getting "squeezed out" of the console war.
Below are the excerpts from a phone interview from Thursday with director of product management for Xbox 360 and Xbox Live Aaron Greenberg, who comments on the sales of GTA IV, the fight for market share and how Microsoft still doesn't consider the Wii a direct competitor.
First, there are the hardware figures. GTA IV didn't seem to move consoles in the few days in April that it was on sale. We didn't see very impressive hardware figures from the two platforms that the game was available on. Will we see the hardware lift in May?
I think May will be a better barometer for GTA's impact on hardware sales. I think GTA is the type of franchise that is unique and does perform differently. It reaches a different type of customer than other big titles in our industry, and those mainstream buyers don't necessarily buy hardware the day a game comes out. I think we'll see a much longer tail with this game. That said, we're very pleased with the numbers... NPD validated what we had heard and seen from our retailers [regarding sales of GTA IV on 360 vs. PS3].
...From our standpoint, we feel good about having now a second month in a row where we outsold the PS3. Of the 18 months that they've been in the market, we've outsold them 16 out of the 18 months
It was quite close though. The difference was 900 or 1,000 units. Very close last month, but it's still good to be the one on top. You'll take it.
Yeah, why not? [Laughs] I'm sure they would it it was them. Isn't that how this works? It's like we're all battling for who's the top console in a month where nobody's really buying consoles.
But games are really what this business is built on ... and Xbox 360 continues to be the platform where people buy games. Xbox 360 sold more third party games at retail than the Wii and PS3 combined. We see that month in, month out.
While the Wii had a great month for hardware, and Mario Kart did well, the problem is that if you're a major third-party publisher, you're not making any money on that platform...
Sony said recently that it is going to stop focusing so much on market share against Microsoft and Nintendo, and instead stay focused on making its games segment profitable. What's Microsoft's stance on that? Obviously you want both profitability and market share, but what comes first for you guys?
We are today a profitable business. So that's one clear distinction between us and the PlayStation 3. The fact is that we're running a more profitable business than Sony is, and we're actually selling our console at a better price. Part of that is because we have a head start, so that helps on the cost side of the structure. But it also helps that the average customer has bought almost eight games for their Xbox 360, and that doesn't include Arcade games or DLC.
...[Sony] missed their PS3 hardware sales targets for last year, and they're essentially saying this year that they'll be up 8 percent [in PS3 unit sales] and they're not going to be willing to lower the price to gain share. I think they're in a different position in the market and in the lifecycle, because their business is not profitable...
"What you're finding is that there are two platforms that are performing very well, while the PS3 really seems like it's getting squeezed out."