The console market has been explosive since March, with two new machines entering the fray and special deals and price cuts being offered by the major players, desperate to win market share. These incentives have pushed the console games market to new levels of sales never seen before at this time of the year.
On March 8, Sony released the Entertainment Pack for the PlayStation 2, a set of optional extras worth over $160 that could be purchased for $30 when buying a PS2 console for an RRP of $499. This bundle has generated over 30,500 PS2 sales to date, and allowed the PS2 to flourish even while the Xbox was being launched.
March 14 was the date of the Xbox launch, and in the first four days it sold over 9,200 units at an average price of $643. However, the comparatively high price point did restrict Xbox sales, with shipments dropping to just over 1,500 units a week by the beginning of April.
Then, on April 19 Microsoft announced a planned price drop on the Xbox to just $399 set for one week later. During the week of the price cut, nearly 12,700 Xbox consoles were sold, and this figure had stabilised to about 3,500 units a week by the end of May.
Nintendo had already reacted to Microsoft's April price cut by announcing that it was dropping its May launch price for the GameCube to just $329. In the first three days of its launch, Nintendo moved just under 11,000 GameCubes through retailers, with just over 17,000 units shipping to customers by the end of May.
Now that all the competing formats have similar price points, the price and availability of quality software titles will primarily determine sales. This is an area that the PS2 already has a lead in due to the fact it has been around for 18 months and is backwards-compatible with the original PlayStation software. However, both the Xbox and the GameCube have technological superiority over the PS2 in some areas, giving those consoles the potential to have superior games in the future.