As the “PS3 vs. Xbox 360” arguments reach a fever pitch heading into the launch of Grand Theft Auto IV (GTA IV), we decided to go right to the authorities to find out which version of the game — and which console — will come out on top. Dave Hulegaard, Game Crazy’s buyer and all-around “video game expert,” wrote the article below for DailyGame to provide his take on the debate. And he uses some concrete pre-order and sales numbers to illustrate his point.
Will GTA IV Fuel the Console Wars?
A lot of gamers and industry insiders are speculating which console, Xbox 360 or PS3, will emerge victorious after this month’s launch of Grand Theft Auto IV (GTA IV). As a buyer for Game Crazy and huge fan of the GTA series, I’m watching this launch especially closely because it’s the first time Rockstar has made the series available for two consoles at once.
In the past when there has been a multi-platform release, the Xbox 360 version generally had higher sales. However, [based on pre-order information at Game Crazy and general console trends] we’ve been seeing a much closer split between the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. For example, Devil May Cry 4 sales had one of the closest splits between the two consoles than any other major title to date.
Until now, Sony has enjoyed an exclusivity window following the release of new titles in the Grand Theft Auto franchise. There’s been a lot of buzz from the die-hard Sony loyalists who have been waiting for this title to come out before they upgrade from their old PS2 systems. Even though the launch of the game was delayed a few months, I don’t see it changing these users’ desires to upgrade.
In many respects, the battle lines have already been drawn. Because both consoles have been out for awhile, a lot of gamers have already committed to a console and will choose their version of GTA IV accordingly. As big a title as it is, I’m not sure it puts Sony’s PS3 in a position to significantly cut into Microsoft’s hardware sales. The Xbox 360 version will sell mammoth amounts no matter what, because hardcore gamers are interested in the promise of downloadable content, achievements and the Xbox Live experience as a whole.
In contrast, I know people personally who won’t buy an Xbox 360 because of their loyalty to the PlayStation platform. They have been waiting for a big Sony title like this one to come out before they upgrade to the PlayStation 3. The PS3’s support for the Blu-ray format could also sway people who are on the fence between the two systems.
If anything, the delayed launch of GTA IV actually ended up benefiting other game titles such as Call of Duty 4, Assassin’s Creed and Mass Effect more than it impacted console sales. The average gamer generally buys a new title every few weeks, but their budgets are finite. By not having to contend with a behemoth competitor like GTA IV, these other games had a more-favorable playing field that no doubt gave them a boost.
It remains to be seen how much of a factor GTA IV will be in the ongoing console wars. But one thing is certain: regardless of which platform comes out ahead, gamers will be the biggest winners now that the title is finally here.
Dave Hulegaard is a game buyer and video game enthusiast at Game Crazy, the nation’s second-largest specialty game retailer with more than 580 locations across the country. Game Crazy is throwing GTA IV launch parties at all of its stores starting at 8 p.m. local time on Monday, April 28, and will be giving away a variety of prizes. Go to Game Crazy’s Web site for details.