Holiday video game competitions have become synonymous with Black Friday and discounts, which are two occasions that Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony all hope will launch their systems to the top sales spot. Microsoft and Nintendo, trailing Sony in home console sales, have started their respective strategies early, doing everything from attaching software to slashing prices on bundled packs. All three have their paths to the showdown laid out, but all also realize that it is with software that this holiday season can be won or lost. With that in mind, it seems as though Nintendo is set for a holiday video game sales boom.
The holiday video game showdown is the top priority for both Microsoft and Nintendo as both have some ground to make up behind the Playstation 4. Xbox One consoles, for the remainder of the year, will be $50 cheaper in America, and new bundles will be available starting Nov. 2. The Assassin’s Creed Xbox One bundle includes a copy of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed Unity for $349. The same bundle will be available with Kinect along with a copy of Dance Central Spotlight for $449 on the same day. As far as exclusive software, Sunset Overdrive just released and seems to be faring positively so far, leaving Halo: The Master Chief Collection, the only other triple-A level Xbox One exclusive, until next year. Titles such as Fable: Legends, Ori and the Blind Forest and others are still rumored for this year but may be pushed into next.
Sony, not slouching in the holiday video game season, also has several bundles and extras coming out this year. Far Cry 4 is receiving a white Playstation 4 bundle, Little Big Planet 3 is having a standard bundle attached and Share Play is making its awaited debut with users. Among the exclusive triple-A spectrum, the cross-generation Little Big Planet is tops with Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, the Journey Playstation 4 version and The Witness anchoring the mid-card. Both systems have several multi-platform games that are expected to do quite well, but therein lies the problem: acquiescence of one property across systems is fine, but crossing generations takes away the next-generation feel.
Nintendo, on its own island in the holiday video game race, seems to have the exact opposite approach of the other two systems. Whereas huge, expensive games such as Far Cry 4 and Advanced Warfare have to cater to last-generation hardware owners, Wii U consumers have all of Nintendo’s home console focus, allowing for their standards of smooth launches and titles to continue. Wii U hardware is not built to make games look as good as those on other Playstaiton 4 and Xbox One, but with Microsoft and Sony still concerned about their current-generation install base size, their machines have yet to be given much of a chance to separate themselves on pure horsepower.
Eliminating the graphical advantage in this holiday video game battle, it is up to the software to push hardware, and that is where Nintendo remains on top. On its current slate, the Wii U has Super Smash Bros., Captain Toad and Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric followed by their intermittent eShop releases, NES Remix Pack and other indie titles. Nintendo can still count on past games such as Mario Kart 8 and Super Mario 3D World to offer significant sales numbers while Sony and Microsoft often see the majority of its sales for yearly series within the first few weeks of release. The first-party titles available on Nintendo systems have been kept at a quality standard that allows for a Mario game or Super Smash Bros. to carry an entire console for a time, and this holiday video game season seems to be the one where their work pays off and Sony’s early console sales lead shrinks back to a manageable distance.
Opinion by Myles Gann