Let the games begin! Consoles battle for festive market
The gaming console wars kicked off in earnest this week with Sony revealing that it sold over one million units of its Playstation 4 console in the machine's first 24 hours of sale.
The device, which will cost €400 when it goes on sale in Ireland next week, is set to do battle in shops with Microsoft's Xbox One, which goes on sale tomorrow for €500.
At stake is control of an annual €14bn global market featuring blockbuster games that sometimes earn over €100m each.
Ireland, which once had the highest penetration of Playstation consoles per household in the world, still has a higher proportion of console game-players than almost all other European countries. Retailers warn that customers who have not pre-booked either console are unlikely to get one before Christmas.
Globally, the console games market is shrinking at over 15pc per year, according to sales-tracking analysts. Five years ago the sector garnered €23bn in revenue. This has been cut to under €15bn due largely to the rise of alternative game-playing devices, particularly tablet PCs and smartphones.
Sony has targeted the sale of five million Playstation 4 consoles by March 31, when its financial year ends. The company is also hoping that the new console can help build a platform for recovery at the Japanese company's money-losing electronics operations. Meanwhile, Microsoft has had to reverse several key facets of its Xbox One console following heavy criticism of its initial plan to not allow second-hand games to be played on the unit. The software giant is positioning the console as a home entertainment unit with extended online features.
Early reviews of both units have been positive, with a number of high-profile game publishers positioning their titles to launch in tandem with the new consoles.