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商业 - 科技

电游巨头新款游戏机维持旺销要靠重磅游戏

Peter Suciu 2014年04月21日

索尼和微软新一代游戏机目前的市场表现已经超过了人们的期望值,但接下来的假日季才是真正的考验。而在此之前的数个月,这两家公司还要想方设法维持热销的势头。

    想在索尼公司(Sony)的PlayStation 4和微软公司(Microsoft)的Xbox One这两大游戏机的生死对决中判定赢家的人恐怕得等上一阵了。这两台分别于去年11月推出的游戏机一上市就势头强劲。由于太受热捧,现在想在索尼的日本总部找到一台PS4可能都变成了和游戏闯关一样的任务。

    现在PS4的全球销量已超600万台,其中包括今年2月它在日本首发第一周卖出的30万台。不过,紧接着第二周销量就下跌到了不到3万台。并不是因为玩家们对这台最新神器兴趣减退,而是因为索尼公司的供应链瓶颈所致——某种程度上也是因为索尼想在北美地区卖出更多的设备,PS4在北美售价为399.99美元。

    IDC公司游戏研究总监路易斯•沃德说:“索尼的销量远超其预期。他们原本希望3月底能销售500万台——这意味着很多设备将先运到店。但实际上他们发现零售数量已超过600万台,所以说实际销量远超预期。但他们并没有就此大肆庆功。毕竟近年来索尼公司一直境况不佳,所以他们也没有开香槟庆祝销售佳绩。”

    索尼在加拿大采取了特殊政策,把售价从399.99加元提高到了449.99加元。公司表示,这是“应对市场环境变化”的必须之举。它表明,索尼在解决供需难题时也开始高度关注盈利能力。

    市场研究公司IHS Technology的游戏研究总监兼主管皮尔斯•哈丁-罗尔斯说:“索尼一直在努力管理好库存和区域产品发货。最困难的情况下可能需要空运、而不是海运,而这类措施会增加索尼的成本。”同样清楚的是,PS4上市以来美元对加元就一直走强。考虑到这家公司在美元地区的成本,提价将消除这种不平衡。这样的快速行动表明,索尼电脑娱乐(SCE,索尼子公司,游戏机、游戏软件开发、制造与销售商——译注)准备采取一切必要手段从一开始就谋求盈利。可以理解的是,在PS4大卖的背景下,打这种算盘更容易。”

    微软的Xbox全球销量紧随索尼,约为400万台。尽管从全球范围看PS4是领头羊,但它们在北美地区却势均力敌。

    哈丁-罗尔斯告诉《财富》杂志(Fortune):“两者的销量差距正日益缩小,而且,随着(新发游戏)《泰坦坠落》(Titanfall)的大受欢迎,它将进一步助推Xbox One大步追赶。不过索尼的上市前战略每一步都精准有效,始终坚持简单易懂的‘只为玩家’的品牌理念,所以PS4玩家都积极响应索尼毫不动摇、专注游戏的口号。但微软却围绕提供多种娱乐体验泛泛而谈,稀释了自己的品牌理念。”

    此外还有价格问题。Xbox One比PS4贵100美元。哈丁-罗尔斯说:“价格更贵也意味着处境不利。在某些市场,价格缺乏弹性往往会使消费者仅有的一点品牌忠诚度荡然无存,同时使他们更愿意选择PS4——英国就是个最好的例子。不过在全球范围内,这两台机器的售价都超出了玩家预期,从这一点看,它们未来都能取得更大成功。”

    Anyone looking t¬o declare a victory in the videogame console showdown between Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One had better be prepared for a long wait. The systems, which each launched last November, are actually off to a strong start; so much so that even finding a PS4 in Sony's home turf of Japan could be a task worthy of a videogame adventure.

    Sony (SNE) has surpassed the 6 million mark in sales worldwide for the PS4, and this includes 300,000 consoles that sold in the first week that the system went on sale in Japan in February. However, the number of sales dropped to less than 30,000 in the second week. It wasn't that gamers weren't interested in Sony's latest gaming console, but rather that the consumer electronics giant had experienced supply constraints -- partially as a result of trying to get more systems out in North America. The PS4 is available in North America for $399.99.

    "Sony is ahead of where they expected to be," said Lewis Ward, research director of gaming at IDC. "They expected to reach about 5 million sales by the end of the March -- meaning that many systems would be shipped to stores. In fact, they have seen sell-through to consumers that topped 6 million. Sony is way ahead of where they wanted to be, but they are not taking a victory lap just yet. Sony as a company has been struggling in recent years, so they aren't exactly popping Champagne."

    Sony took the unique move to raise the price of the system in Canada from C$399.99 to C$449.99, which the company said was needed "to respond to changes in the market environment." This could be an indicator that the company is very much focused on its own profitability as it addresses supply and demand challenges.

    "Sony has been working hard to manage its inventory and regional product shipments. In the most difficult cases this can mean flying in consoles rather than shipping, and this sort of action can increase costs to Sony," said Piers Harding-Rolls, director and head of games research at IHS Technology. "Also it is clear that the U.S. dollar has strengthened against the Canadian dollar since launch, and with the company's costs in the region in U.S. currency, the price increase is there to smooth out the imbalance. A quick-fire move like this suggests that SCE is ready to do what it takes to drive profitability into the division as early as possible in the cycle. Understandably, this financial prudence is easier to implement while the PS4 is selling strongly."

    Microsoft's (MSFT) Xbox trails Sony with about 4 million units sold worldwide, and while on a global basis it is clear that the PS4 holds the lead, it is a much closer race in North America.

    "The sales gap is closer, and with [the newly released game] Titanfall well-received this will have aided Xbox One further," Harding-Rolls told Fortune. "Sony hit all the right notes with its pre-launch strategy and stuck to its simple 'for the gamers' message. The console audience responded to this non-wavering concentration on gaming, whereas Microsoft's message was more generalized around a broader entertainment offering and watered down."

    Then there is the issue of price. Microsoft's Xbox One came out at $100 more than Sony's PS4, and "the higher price also meant it was at a disadvantage," added Harding-Rolls. "In some markets a lack of price elasticity overcame residual brand loyalty and resulted in better momentum for the PS4 -- the U.K. is a leading example. However, both platforms have sold above and beyond expectations globally, and on this basis, there is a strong platform there for future success for both consoles."

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