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Sony PS3 Now Readily Available, While Wiis Hard to Find

17 Jan, 2007 By: John Gaudiosi

While Sony's PlayStation 3 was hard to find before Christmas and sold out at retail throughout the holiday, January retail checks are painting a different picture for the next-generation war.

Sony's PS3s can be found on many retail shelves, while Nintendo's Wii and Nintendo DS continue to sell out as soon as stocks are replenished.

“We believe one of the key variables for the video game sector for 2007 will be the ramp curve for PS3 hardware sales,” said P.J. McNealy, video game analyst for American Technology Research.

McNealy said his channel checks of 52 retail stores, from boutiques to big-box retailers, showed that 28 of the 52 stores had PS3 consoles in stock, while none had Wii consoles in stock. The PS3 inventory quantities were typically low single-digits, with only one major retailer location having 60-plus PS3s in stock. He said several comments from retailers indicated a good flow of PS3 units over the past few weeks, as well.

While PS3 can even be found online these days, Nintendo's new console, and its popular portable, are very hard to come by at brick-and-mortar locations and online. In fact, Wiis are selling for several hundred dollars above retail on Ebay, while PS3s, which are abundant on that site, are going for close to their $500 or $600 cost.

“We believe PS3 inventory levels merit close watching to see if we are incorrect in our assumption that the PS3 will not hit a cross-over point between supply/demand in North America until the June quarter,” McNealy said. “To be clear, that cross-over point, in our opinion, is when the PS3 is typically readily available at all retail chains in North America, much as the Xbox 360 is today. We don't believe the current PS3 inventory levels automatically mean that we are likely close to reaching that point, but we will continue to monitor it.”

McNealy said that should the crossover point for the PS3 come sooner than the June quarter, it could impact the overall video-game market outlook for this year.

One major problem that Sony has faced with PS3 is a lack of killer app games — titles that drive hardware sales because gamers have to play it. Microsoft had Halo on Xbox and Gears of War for Xbox 360. Sony's Resistance: Fall of Man, while a decent game, has not been enticing consumers to fork over the $500 to $600 for the next-generation hardware. That may change in the coming months as Sony has several exclusive titles, including Lair and Stormfront, on the horizon, as well as big games such as Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas, Def Jam Icon and F.E.A.R. heading to PS3.

Another factor is likely the price point, which is among the highest in the history of video game launches. Unlike Wii, which comes with a well-received Wii Sports game packed in, PS3 requires gamers to spend an additional $60 per game. While the built-in Blu-ray Disc technology does make this the most affordable device for Sony's next-generation disc format, gamers have not been clamoring for a new HD movie format.

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