All looks rosy for Nintendo and its fans in the UK and the rest of Europe. Wii Fit is currently balanced on top of the UK charts (although GTAIV's sales figures indicate that may not be for long), Mario Kart Wii snaked to the front of the pack at launch, and Super Smash Bros. has finally got a release date. To make things even sweeter, the Mario Factory has just been tipped by an analyst to oust Sony from the top of the heap in the region.
Despite a lukewarm response to Nintendo's global outlook when it announced its most recent annual results and unveiled its projections for the coming year, David Cole of DFC Intelligence is projecting big things for the Japanese publisher in Europe. He points to the success of Sony's casual-gaming products such as SingStar and the EyeToy range as the prime indicator for Nintendo's upcoming dominance in the region in a report published this week.
He believes that "the Wii product line and control system are an evolution of what made the PlayStation 2 so successful in Europe," and indicated that the move to Atari by Phil Harrison, who was president of SCE Worldwide Studios and seen by many as the standard-bearer for Sony's charge into nontraditional markets, was a turning point. "In many ways this departure is symbolic of how the torch in Europe seems to be passing to Nintendo," Cole said.
Cole also suggested that the recent launch of Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 for Wii is likely to push hardware sales to new heights in the region. As he puts it, "Soccer is arguably the most important game genre in Europe, and now the Wii has what many consider to be the best soccer game. This alone is likely to be a driver of significant Wii sales, especially among customers looking to upgrade from their PlayStation 2."
Things are less rosy for Microsoft, in Cole's view of the market. "In the long-term, DFC Intelligence believes the PlayStation 3 will be a fairly strong competitor," Cole said. "The biggest loser in Europe is likely to be the Xbox 360." Microsoft has seen its self-proclaimed fall 2007 'greatest holiday line-up in videogame history' come and go with very little impact on the Xbox 360's position in the European marketplace.
"To spur sales in 2008, Microsoft is being forced to lower the price of a system that is starting to look like a senior citizen as it approaches its third birthday," he concluded.
Sony and Nintendo both refused to comment on the report, while Microsoft had this to say, "We won't comment on DFC's report but I can say that we wouldn't trade places with any other gaming platform. Competition is high this generation, but the race is far from over and we are confident that we have the winning strategy."