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It will be fun to see analyst sales figures for console sales after Christmas, as Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House admits the Xbox One is giving the PlayStation 4 a run for its money. Even though sales are described as "in line" with Sony's previous expectations, the cheaper price tag for the Xbox One has led to a significant sales bump for Microsoft.
The Xbox One starts at $350 in the United States, while the PS4 is available starting at $400. The $50 price cut was announced in November and will continue to January 3, 2015.
It appears to be a good time to be a console gamer, as both companies also have several appealing console/game bundles available. Expect continued price cuts and increased competition from both companies in 2015, while they try to woo gamers to their respective platforms.
Sony has been in the headlines for all of the wrong reasons in recent weeks, but at least the company's gaming unit has something to cheer about. The PlayStation 4 has seen such high demand in Europe, Sony reportedly has struggled to keep up with European demand.
"If I look at Europe I think it is potentially, for the second year running, going to be quite inventory challenged," said Andrew House, Sony Computer Entertainment CEO, in a statement to Reuters. "I'm not going to say you won't be able to find a PlayStation 4. I think it's going to be kind of hand to mouth in terms of that market."
In the United States market, however, Sony admitted to "tougher" competition due to Microsoft's aggressive Xbox One game console. However, Sony believes sales through Christmas are still in line with its preliminary expectations - and reports will likely be published in early 2015.
Busted! Oscar Ramirez, 48, was caught by Port Authority Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials trying to smuggle a .22-caliber semi-automatic handgun inside of a Sony PlayStation 2 game console. Ramirez was attempting to fly from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City to Mexico City Mexico, but the Brooklyn man was caught before getting onboard.
Things didn't look right when the console went through x-ray, and officers found the weapon's hand grip and other parts inside of the bottom of the console housing. Ramirez now faces a weapons charge for trying to take the hand gun with him.
The TSA has found 2,100 weapons during airport checkpoints so far in 2013, a 16 percent increase year-over-year.
The Microsoft Xbox One rolled out Pandora, Vevo, Popcornflix, Telemundo Now and Bravo Now apps for gamers, in time for Christmas. Pandora previously wanted to run a custom Pandora music service app built by HTML5 for television screens - while largely ignoring game consoles.
Rolling out a native Pandora app is a good effort for Microsoft, which has been promptly outsold most of the year by the Sony PlayStation 4 game console.
Microsoft has been quick to roll out apps for Xbox One owners, including HBO GO, MLB.TV, Twitch, and Plex - the company is embracing apps to help keep users running entertainment and media services through the console.
Sony is preparing to release the PlayStation 4 in China, jumping into a fresh market that Microsoft has enjoyed to itself with its Xbox One game console. To prepare to be competitive when the additional competition arrives, Microsoft will offer an $80 price cut to ensure gamers remain interested in its console.
The Xbox One without Kinect launched in China for $600 and $694 with a Kinect unit. However, after the price drop, the unit will cost $517 without the Kinect and $614 with a Kinect. It will be curious to see if the price drop will be enough, as the PS4 will cost $468 immediately when it launches.
"As with many global products, specific pricing, promotions and offers vary by market," a Microsoft spokesperson told GameSpot regarding the price drop. "In China, Xbox is running a special promotion that began on Nov. 11, 2014."
It looks like Nintendo has a product in its pipeline that could be really quite interesting, where the Japan Times is reporting Nintendo is interesting in purchasing "free form" LCDs from Sharp.
According to Japan Times' sources, Nintendo would use Sharp's shape-shifting LCDs in a new successor to the Nintendo 3DS, or a sleep mapping device, or something else entirely. Sharp's new display technology rearranges circuitry throughout the display, which allows for screens to form in shapes that completely break the usual square or rectangular shape we've all become accustomed to over the years.
Nintendo will release Yoshi's Wooly World for the Wii U in early 2015, with the Good-Feel Company game developer firm providing assistance. Yoshi's Wooly World presents a unique gaming environment, featuring characters made of yarn, wool and other materials. The game was originally shown off during E3 2014 earlier this year, but Nintendo only confirmed it would be released sometime in 2015.
"We said we wanted to make a Yoshi game, but we asked them to use the yarn and fabric as materials for creating new gameplay mechanics to create a new kind of Yoshi game filled with those kinds of elements," said Takashi Tezuka, Nintendo video game designer, during a Nintendo Direct presentation.
It has been an extremely busy time for console manufacturers and game studios, and Nintendo has enjoyed recent success with the Wii U. The launch of Yoshi's Wooly World in early 2015 could help generate additional sales for the gaming unit.
The reclusive China regime, and its hordes of censors, have kept consoles out of the country for the last 14 years by instituting an all-encompassing ban. This draconian ban was lifted just a few short months ago, and Microsoft capitalized on the opportunity by quickly shipping units into the country. Now, four months later, Sony is following Microsoft's lead. The Sony PlayStation 4 will debut in China on January 11th.
Entering the China market isn't easy. The games must make a run through the censor gauntlet, which routinely denies 'licenses' for many of today's top games. It's safe to say that Grand Theft Auto isn't going to make the cut. Microsoft's console is selling in China with only 10 games that passed muster with the censors, but Microsoft predominantly submitted sports games that faced little chance of being flagged by 'cultural censors'. Sony is being a bit more aggressive by applying for licences for 30 games, and several have already made it through. The Sony PS4 will go on sale for roughly 2,899 yuan ($468 USD), in comparison to the more pricey Xbox One at 3,699 yuan ($568 USD).
The Sony PlayStation 4 game console has continually outsold the rival Microsoft Xbox One since both were launched in late 2013 - and while the race is tightening - Sony believes year two will be a bigger success. Sony has learned it takes a bit of time for each new console platform to mature, which could open the floodgates even further.
"I really believe it's year two when you tend to see those titles come through that start to define the whole generation," said Fergai Gara, Sony UK executive. "The best is yet to come on PS4. We've seen a brilliant start with the mega-franchises, like the FIFAs, Call of Duties, and the Assassin's Creeds, but we've also seen some strong new IPs launch - the likes of Destiny and Watch Dogs. But I think that the ones that are truly to define the generation are probably still to come, to be honest."
Consumers are spending money on gaming hardware and video games, so both Sony and Microsoft should be able to enjoy success in 2015.
Nintendo has endured several years of uncertainty and chaos, but appears to be ready to end 2014 on an extremely high note. Despite losing $193 million in 2013, Nintendo has enjoyed success from Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart 8, and Amiibo, the company will also sell an estimated 3.6 million Wii U console units in 2014. Amiibo sales in the US should top $1 billion, and shows President Satoru Iwata's decision of sticking with game titles for Nintendo devices alone isn't as disastrous as once believed.
"Nintendo has picked up good momentum heading into the Christmas season," said Tomoaki Kawasaki, analyst from Iwai Cosmo Securities, regarding Nintendo's recent success. "This time they have a hit lineup. Amiibo represents a new revenue source, and we are watching it very closely."
It may have taken longer than expected, but the Wii U game catalog continues to strengthen - after poor sales in 2012 and 2013 - as Nintendo caters to a niche gaming demographic when compared to Microsoft and Sony.