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Research: PS3 exclusives don't sell consoles

Playing a specific game is least popular reason to buy a console; Blu-ray comes out on top

New research from Nielsen Games has shown that, contrary to popular belief, the release of a big game isn't necessarily enough to motivate consumers to buy a new games console.

In fact, wanting to play one particular game was cited as the least motivating factor in buying a console by gamers questioned for the survey, coming out as far less important than Blu-ray capabilities, price reductions and online capabilities.

For its research, Nielson quizzed 700 active gamers aged 7-54 who did not currently own a PlayStation 3 but were "definitely" or "probably" interested in buying one in the following six months.

The company interviewed the gamers over a three week period prior to, during and after the release of God of War III on the console, using the game as a lens to determine how important it would be in motivating purchases of the PS3.

However, the results showed that it was of little relevance, with just 12 per cent stating that one specific game would be a motivating factor in their decision.

Instead, the most motivating factors were Blu-Ray capabilities, the recent price reduction of the PS3 and the library of games currently available, which were cited by 65, 63 and 62 per cent of those questioned respectively.

62 per cent said that their decision was motivated by wanting to upgrade from the PlayStation 2, 56 per cent said they wanted the console in order to connect with friends that also had a PS3, and 50 per cent said they were interested in the PS3's other online capabilities.

49 per cent were interested in the PS3's other multimedia capabilities. 42 per cent wanted the console for online multiplayer, and 36 per cent said they were motivated by offers bundling an HDTV with the PS3.

Despite the fact that buying a specific game ranked lowest on the list of reasons for acquiring a PS3, God of War III was the most popular game named among those that did list it.

From a total of 20 PS3 titles, which also included Heavy Rain, Modern Warfare 2, LittleBigPlanet and Gran Turismo 5, 33 per cent named God of War III, followed by Final Fantasy XIII with 13 per cent.

"Not to be overlooked is that nearly half (49 per cent) cited interest in the console for its multimedia capabilities," noted Nielsen on its blog.

"This is especially interesting because the tagline for Sony's recent marketing campaign, 'It only does everything,' touts the entertainment versatility of the PS3 even as it features specific high-profile games, including GOW III, in select ads.

"Considering the data, it appears as though this marketing strategy complements consumer sentiment. While many potential PS3 buyers will see GOW III as an important asset, more often the game will be considered one of many reasons to acquire the console rather than the sole motivator."

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Latest comments (20)

Terence Gage Freelance writer 11 years ago
I've never bought a console for one game alone - I tend to wait for four or five games I really would like before taking the plunge of £200-£300 or thereabouts (as it tends to be when the console has been out for a year or two), and I would imagine many if not most people are the same.

Although to be fair, I did order my PS3 after playing LittleBigPlanet for the first time, because I found it so wonderful and enjoyable.

It's interesting that nearly half claimed to want the console for its multimedia capabilities - perhaps Sony's long game and kitchen sink philosophy is finally starting to reap benefits.
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No mention of MGS4?

5 Million sold to date and it's an exclusive? There isn't a definitive system seller (GT5 for EU) however the amount of top quality titled on the PS3 does shift consoles.

How would the PS3 have caught up so much to 360 sales if there weren’t any quality titles?
With Sony pushing their entertainment device more than their software then perhaps this is true, but I find it hard to believe that exclusives don't sell consoles. They just don’t sell as much as they used to.
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Josef Brett Animator 11 years ago
I wouldn't buy a console for one game alone and the PS3 now has enough high quality titles for me to be interested, but it's now finding the time to play them.

There are also a lot of high quality games on the 360 and a few on the Wii that I have to get through first!
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Show all comments (20)
Volker Boenigk Executive Product Director, Gameforge11 years ago
An exclusive title (Heavy Rain) didn't convince me to buy a PS3, but a well priced bundle with that exclusive title did. Now I am in the constant dilemma wether to get a game for PS3 or Xbox. Most of the time Xbox wins due to cheaper price point.
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David Spender Lead Programmer 11 years ago
I bought a PS3 to play MGS4. Something isn't quite right with this article. People don't buy consoles specifically to 'connect with friends' and for 'multimedia capabilities'. The majority buy them to play games - in other words, if they couldn't play games, but they could do all that other stuff, they would not sell for $499. They need to come up with some new questions.
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Jeremy Gifford11 years ago
Yeah, I already had a 360 when I urgently bought a PS3 for Blu-Ray (to actually enjoy my new HDTV) and the price cut definitely helped me pull the trigger. I hate deciding which console I should buy a multi-platform game for. I find that more often than not the PS3 version of games are cheaper than 360. And I like how I can actually play the PS3 game online (I don't want to fork out $50 a year for the 360). Unfortunately, my brother, who I like to swap games and occasionally play online with, only has a 360. So I've mostly just been buying platform exclusives right now to not worry about it.
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Doug Paras11 years ago
David Spender > I know lots of people my brother included who bought it cause its still one of if not the best Blu Ray player you can get, my brother rare if ever plays his PS3 other then with Blu rays they usally have the Wii going with his kids.
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Tommy Thompson Studying Artificial Intelligence (PhD), University of Strathclyde11 years ago
I agree with David, the question of one game being an influential factor perhaps should have been more thorough. Being a 360 owner myself, GOW III does not interest me enough to merit a purchase. However, MGS4, Uncharted 1 & 2, inFamous, LittleBigPlanet and Heavy Rain could if a couple of them were provided in a well priced bundle. Yes this may come under 'library of games already available', but that does not consider that this is a library of exclusive titles. If the same principle was applied to something like Killzone 2 or LittleBigPlanet, given their far from impressive sales despite their quality, then the results would say 'Exclusives are a waste of time'.

Furthermore, what is this 'active gamers' demographic that they have sampled? Are these people regular gamers? Do they currently own a PS2/Wii/DS/360? I would imagine owning even one of these consoles could have an impact on their potential purchase. We see that there was some statistics related to PS2 upgrades, but what about the other consoles? I can understand a Wii owner being interested in greater multimedia capabilities and - easier to use - online gaming facilities. However, other than the Blu-ray player, is there anything else a 360 owner would be interested in other than the game library?
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Joseph Moore Senior Programmer, CCP11 years ago
The survey wasn't about "the one and only reason" you want the console, it was a ranking of reasons, from 1 - 5. Given the number of options available, and the specific wording, of course that wasn't number 1. Personally, I got a PS3 (very, very recently) primarily for the Blu-ray capabilities, followed by the exclusives. The reason I finally jumped on it is because of the price drop. Chances are, I'll still play my 360 primarily because that's what most of my friends play on.

In this survey, the 3rd-highest option ("I like the library of games available") pretty much makes the "specific game" option moot. The exclusives and that one specific game fall into the entire library. It's a poorly worded survey that doesn't particularly reveal anything interesting, and this specific news post/result is expected, again, based on the wording and available options on the survey.
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James Goldie Studying Master of Business (Science & Technology), Monash University11 years ago
Yes, but 'the library of games available' is a factor for 62% of respondents, and a range of quality exclusives is a (the!) primary factor in distinguishing a library. So while this might have implications for the marketing of such exclusives as system movers, it doesn't mean that there's less impetus on platform holders to attract exclusives.
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Aaron Punga Animator, Electronic Arts11 years ago
I guess I fall into that 12%. I already owned a 360, but when Sony started to build so
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Aaron Punga Animator, Electronic Arts11 years ago
I guess I fall into that 12%. I already owned a 360, but when Sony started to build some momentum with their exclusives, that's when I jumped aboard. (heavenly sword, uncharted, mgs4, infamous...) if it weren't for those titles and the future promise of gow3, gran turismo, lbp, last guardian, I never would have bothered. Blu-Ray for me was just a cool bonus feature.
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Shane Sweeney Academic 11 years ago
Look at the final paragraph. The study is sound. Exclusives arent the "only" factor. Just one of many.

Duh? But I guess, its good to have actual research.

It did influence me a lot though, I got a PS3 for Flower, Flow, Every Day Shooter, Pixel Junk series, Linger in the Shadows with the promise of an ICO successor and Heavy Rain. I got a Xbox 360 for Braid, Rez HD and Space Giraffe but have felt a little starved of that type of content on the platform.
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Dennis Wan Game Designer, Nanyang Polytechnic11 years ago
Personally I'd like to buy a PS3 mainly for its BluRay capabilities. The games are a plus, since there are some games I'd love to try, but I don't have that much time to sit down and plow through those heavy titles like I did before when I was still in school. Even my Wii hasn't seen much action in months... I miss being a kid haha~
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Jan Almqvist Senior Level Artist, Ubisoft Quebec City11 years ago
I sort of question the headline of this article stating that exclusives don't sell hardware. Well, according to the research (if I read it correctly) and if it correlates to actual sales, 12% of the installed base could be due to exclusives. I would have thought that was pretty damn good? Potentially, 4M PS3s can be in the hands of gamers due to a specific game and that goes a long way towards closing the gap to the competitors.
Conclusion? Exclusives might sell lots of concoles and I don't know any business that wouldn't jump on the chance to increase sales by 12%. In this case, the 12% increase in install base will presumably drive further growth and revenue for all participants on the platform. Which, obviously, is the reason to why we have exclusives in the first place.
Although I'm personally doubtful that One game would make much difference, but a collection of really good exclusives probably does. As many of the other posters have stated, "once the library got interesting..."... Either way, exclusive titles make sense for a platform holder.
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 11 years ago
I think it's silly to buy a console for one game. I know some people buy the PS3 for blu-ray first primarily but in my opinion, I buy a games console for games, not movie playing capabilities.
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Jan Scigulinsky11 years ago
Hm... I bought my PS3 Slim in a Heavy Rain Bundle... If HR didn't come out, I'd probably still be playing on my PC only. I've bought other games since, but Heavy Rain was the thing that made my decision for me. It's an experience I can't get anywhere else.
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Elikem Jubey11 years ago
@David Spender: the point of the article wasn't that no one buys a console for 1 game. It was that it's the least like reason to buy one.
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Steve Bailey Webmaster 11 years ago
I post this survey on my site to see the reaction from members and they all said they brought there PS3 for a specific game. The most common game people have brought a PS3 for so far is for GT5 when it comes out!
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 10 years ago
GT5 will, like every GT game, move a few more consoles.

I worked in game retail back when the first three game were released and they all moved systems from launch day. Granted, with the economy sucking hard, I'd say most GT5 buyers will already own a PS3. However, there are those who've waited, collectors who buy console variants (damn them!) and a few others out there who may decide to make the plunge once reviews hit.

And by the way, I've actually bought more than one console AFTER buying a game for it. Crazy, yes, but it's sure a annoyingly perfect incentive to have a game staring you in the face every day until you can afford the damn console to play it on...
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