Keeping Microsoft honest

Back in March I wrote a post about Microsoft’s tossing out numbers on the number of Xbox 360s they planned to ship and the number of games that would be out. They said that by June, they’d ship 4.5 million to 5.5 million systems and have “nearly 50” or 80 games (depending on what day they were making up their numbers) released.

I called bollocks on those numbers; at that point, only 1.6 million 360s had shipped, and there were 25 games out. Now June has come and gone. How do the numbers compare to the predictions?

According to NPD data, compiled here, 1.7 million 360s sold in the U.S. through May. The June numbers aren’t in yet, but figure another 250,000 or so sold. So say 2 million. With the Xbox 360 shortage over, the shipped number must be higher, but I can’t find many recent estimates on that. I’d figure about 2.5 or 2.7 million shipped in the U.S. Ars Technica wrote on June 30, “according to Microsoft, the company has met its manufacturing goals and has now shipped 5 million units of their next-generation console worldwide.” Is that realistic? According to this Web site, 3.8 million 360s have sold worldwide. But there’s no source for those numbers. And Japan is still completely ignoring the 360 — the system sells less than 2,000 a week there. If 2 million have sold in the U.S. alone, it seems reasonable that 1.7 million or so Xbox 360s could have sold in Europe and Australia. Which makes 2.5 million shipped to Europe/Australia/Japan a reasonable number. So looks like Microsoft caught up to its predictions of consoles shipped.

As for the number of games released, by my count 45 games (not counting Xbox Live Arcade titles) will be out come Tuesday. Without the first week of July, that’s about 40 through June. Is 40 “nearly 50”? I suppose so. Certainly not 80 though.

So looks like I was mostly overly skeptical.

As a side note, these numbers make clear how tough a time Sony has ahead. Microsoft doesn’t have a year head start on the PlayStation 3. If Sony has the same slow rollout of consoles and games as Microsoft did, the 360 will really have had an 18-month head start.

— July 7, 2006

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