Xbox closes in on PS2

The gap between rival gaming consoles Xbox and PlayStation 2 is narrowing, with latest figures from research analyst Inform showing Sony’s gaming console sales is ahead by just 4 per cent.

According to the figures, Xbox has boosted its weekly market share to 46 per cent over the past eight weeks in the lead-up to the Christmas season. In contrast, PlayStation 2 console sales have dropped from over 80 per cent of total market share to 54 per cent in the same period.

Xbox sold 13,072 consoles in the week ending 24 November, while PlayStation sales reached 14,235. Nintendo’s GameCube, which has suffered a steady decline in sales over the past two months, chalked up just 1151 console sales in the same week.

Inform research analyst Phil Burnham says there are several different factors influencing sales of the gaming consoles, including the number of game titles available and the bundle packs offered with each of the consoles. Xbox is currently being sold in a Christmas bundle pack with three games and a DVD.

The number of game titles being released by the two companies prior to Christmas will also play a significant role in bumping up the amount of consoles sold by both companies in November/December, he said.

Harvey Norman managing director John Slack-Smith said the trend reported by Inform has been evident in recent store sales.

“The Xbox with the Christmas bundle pack has been very well received, and [Xbox] has a great take-up rate,” he said. “The marketing war between PlayStation and Xbox is absolutely in full swing.”

Slack-Smith said he expects the trend to continue right through to Christmas, with the two selling “one for one”.

“There’s been a big move by Xbox – it has a lot of momentum coming into December, and Sony is the incumbent,” he said.

“There won’t be a whole lot of difference in sales.”

But despite recent figures, Burnham said PlayStation 2 still maintains a strong installed base in the local market. Currently, there are 139,208 Xbox consoles in use in Australia, and 569,398 PlayStation 2 consoles.

According to Inform, the interactive games market, which includes console software, hardware and gaming peripherals, is experiencing a dramatic surge in popularity. During 2002, the market recorded 14 per cent volume growth and 28 per cent value growth, to be worth a staggering $2 million a day.

The introduction of the Xbox and GameCube consoles earlier this year, as well as strong software sales in July and August, were big contributors to the increase, Inform reported.

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Nadia Cameron

Nadia Cameron

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