The new Grand Theft Auto IV expansion episode The Lost & damned from developer Rockstar has set a new revenue record on Xbox Live. The Xbox exclusive title has, according to Microsoft “eclipsed first-day revenue for all previous downloadable content on Xbox LIVE”. There is no word on whether their original fee to the developer has been anywhere near covered. We know the cost is $19.99 but Microsoft has not released actual sales figures.

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It looks like the traditionally weak Xbox 360 sales in Japan are on the up. Reuters today reports that in the week ending 22 February the Xbox sold 21,013 units compared with Nintendo selling 16,900 Wii’s and Sony shifting 15,967 PS3’s. A good result for Microsoft which reinforces the PS3’s recent poor sales performance in other markets.

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A Microsoft executive has commented that European sales of the Xbox 360 console was up 120% over the Christmas 2008 period compared to the same period in 2007. This backs up claims that the Xbox 360 has seen a huge sales growth in the US in comparison to a sales drop for the PS3.

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Microsoft have today announced a special edition Red Xbox 360 to mark the imminent release of the first Resident Evil game on the platform. It will be released on 13 March, the same day as the game and will based on the top-of-the range Elite edition of the console. The package will include the usual Elite package (in Red rather than Black) along with the game and a special Resident Evil 5 theme. The special edition will be available in the UK, US and Australian markets.

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Despite recent rumours that the highly anticipated God of War III will be pushed back to 2010, Sony have today issued confirmation that it will be released on the PS3 this year. Although no definite date has been given, we would expect it in time for the all-important pre-holiday sales period.

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Sony have announced that they have sold 21.3 million PlayStation 3 consoles worldwide up to 31 December 2008. They do not split the figure down into territories.

Let’s see what figure Microsoft come back with for Xbox 360 sales! It should be much more considering their one-year head start and the recent sales performance reports.

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Nintendo has confirmed that the DS Lite’s successor, the DSi, will launch throughout Europe on 3 April‭ 2009. It will be available in either black or white, with other colours to follow. Pricing has not yet been confirmed but we would expect it to retail at around ‬£150 (approximately 180 Euro).

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Despite recent gloomy news on the job market, the avid gamers perfect position is advertised on Sony Computer Entertainment’s Japanese website. Sony are recruiting a ‘games tester’ to work on a new model, as well as the existing PS2, PS3 and PSP hardware. The prospective candidate should have experience in games console hardware development. The lucky recipient can expect around £7.50 per hour with a minimum one year contract.

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Further to the NPD hardware figures released last week (Sony sees PS3 sales slump), Sony has hit back, claiming that their future blockbuster software releases will continue to drive sales figures Sony’s Peter Dille has commented “The PlayStation brand experienced a record year in 2008 and we believe our blockbuster line-up combined with PS3′s position as the best Blu-ray player and sophisticated entertainment device will continue to fuel increased marketshare and momentum into 2009.”

I suppose only time will tell whether these comments will hold true.

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According to figures released by research group NPD, Sony’s PlayStation 3 console has seen a year-on-year sales slump of almost 25% percent this January (US sales figures). In the preceding year it sold 269,000 consoles, whilst this year the figure is 203,200. Sony must be worried as their rivals see a major growth in sales (see previous post – Microsoft Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii see sales surge) as well as Sony themselves suffering their widely publicised financial woes. The reasons for this sales slump cannot be solely due to the world’s current economic climate considering the performance of the PS3’s chief rivals. In my opinion it is down to two factors. The first is the consoles high price. It is over two years since launch and we have only seen one relatively minor price drop. The RRP of a PS3 is almost double that of either an Xbox 360 or a Nintendo Wii. Sony must have to drop prices to compete but this lead to another problem for them – they are still loosing money on each PS3 console sold. In light of this I would assume that they are better off selling less until they reach a production cost where they can make money on each unit. The second factor concerns the integrated Blu-ray player. Since the formats launch the PS3 has been widely recognised as the best and cheapest Blu-ray player. Within the last six months new stand alone players from the likes of Sony and Panasonic have tipped the advantage away from a PS3 towards owning a dedicated Blu-ray player. It appears to me Sony is stuck in a hole with the PS3 that it may well struggle to get out of. Have you still not purchased a PS3 due to the high retail price? Why not obtain a free PS3 80GB console?

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