Greenberg speaks, world facepalms
Posted at 19:34 on 7th July 2008 - permalink

I don’t want to make a habit out of making fun of people on this site, but this week Microsoft’s Aaron Greenberg (who we saw defending the insane pricing of the Xbox 360 HDD a while back), is coming out with stuff that’s too good to ignore:

“I think that there’s a difference in the type of customer that is buying the Wii. When you think about it, there’s a difference between trying to be the number one console with nine year old gamers, and being the console that offers the most experiences from 13 to 33…

You see they’re not buying games on it, right? They’re buying it, it’s like something they break out when people come over, and it’s maybe a fun thing, but it’s almost like the same people that buy a karaoke machine, you know? They’re not really buying it for games, they’re just buying it as a novelty.”

In other words: “Nintendo is for kids! Local multiplayer games are not real games! Fun is sooo immature!” Embarrassing, playground-level arguments, and particularly poorly timed considering that Super Smash Brothers Brawl currently sits at the top of the all-formats European chart, hot on the heels of the mega-success of Wii Fit and Mario Kart Wii.

It will be interesting to see whether Nintendo make public any of the data from their Nintendo Channel survey system, because I’d be willing to bet that the majority of people buying Brawl aren’t “nine-year-olds”, they’re the same audience that bought into the previous installments of the series, and who overlap heavily with the crowd who bought GoldenEye 007, Halo and Grand Theft Auto IV. The audience we’re led to believe is in thrall of the Xbox 360.

To be fair to Greenberg, while at this point it’s clear that the Wii isn’t a fad or a novelty, it still remains to be seen whether the Wii userbase will maintain or increase the rate at which they buy games for the system. Having said that, it’s far from established that the Xbox 360 is driving huge software sales either. Take the PS3 and PC sales of recent blockbuster titles out of the equation, and zoom out from North America, and the story looks very different.

It appears that this isn’t the first time that Greenberg has gotten a little emotive and vented his frustration. (I’d quote from that but virtually every sentence is FUD. Rounding on the PS3 because not every game is 1080p? Please.)

Peter Moore had the right idea (your correspondent double-takes and peers at his drink suspiciously): if an interviewer asks you a tough question about a competitor, offer them guarded praise (“God bless ’em”) and try to steer the conversation to safer ground. Don’t blurt out a load of FUD that flies in the face of the sales figures. The days of consumers buying into one games platform and shunning all others are over. You can focus on bringing something positive to that mix or you can alienate your customers. Your choice.

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