Microsoft’s Xbox makes gains in console market

29 Jan 2004

Microsoft’s Xbox system has sold 3.7 million units in Europe so far and the company is now in second place in the continent’s games console market, the company has said.

Citing independent figures from research firms Chart-Track and GfK, Microsoft said that during the course of the calendar year 2003, Xbox increased its year-on-year market share growth in Europe. The company declared it is “now clear number two” in the European games console market.

Microsoft’s press statement managed not to contain a single mention of any of its competitors, but the clear number one in the market is Sony’s PlayStation 2, which had sold 24.56 million units in Europe since its launch in November 2000, according to figures from Sony. The Nintendo GameCube was in third place with an installed based of close to 3 million units in Europe.

In the UK, Xbox sales passed the one-million mark in the first week of December 2003 and the findings said it was the only video games console to achieve positive growth (6pc) year on year.

Microsoft has not revealed how the Xbox has fared in Ireland. Last summer the company appointed Gamesworld as its dedicated Irish distributor for the console as it looked to make inroads into the local market.

Eduardo Rosini, regional vice president, home and entertainment division, Microsoft commented: “Our increasing market share is great news for us. The steady increase in Xbox gamers over the year proves our strategy of offering consumers exactly what they wanted has paid off – a competitively-priced console, with more power than any other console on the market, a killer games portfolio and a built-in broadband adapter for instant online gaming with Xbox Live. We are looking forward to seeing our number two position in the market going from strength to strength and we’re right on track to hit our worldwide shipment goal of 14.5-16 million units by the end of June 2004.”

Based on the new market research, Microsoft is also claiming a ‘software attach rate’ of 5.2, a term that refers to the average number of games sold per console. This figure is intended to be an indicator of whether the Xbox is gaining popularity as a format, based on the amount of titles available for it. What the statistics don’t make clear is whether this average has been skewed by promotional offers where software is bundled free with the machine. For example, Irish retailer GameStop has been selling Xboxes with four free games for €209.

Overall, the immediate future looks good for Xbox. There are now more than 300 games available for the console in Europe and the slate for the coming year is filling up nicely, with a raft of new titles set to be launched, both by Microsoft and third-party games developers. These include Halo 2, Fable and BC – all from Microsoft Game Studios – as well as Ninja Gaiden, Dead or Alive Ultimate (both Tecmo), Breakdown (Namco), Full Spectrum Warrior (THQ) and Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (Ubi Soft).

By Gordon Smith