The  10 commandments for a console launch


posted 2/6/2007 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
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With the launch of the PS3 and Wii 3 months behind us, we've taken a look back at those launches and as well launch of the 360 and tried to come up with a set of new rules for the next major console launch.  Let's be brutally honest here, this round of console launches was not a pretty one, as people were robbed, shot, and one person even died (albeit during a stupid radio stunt) trying to get their hands on a new console.  Honestly, the only real winner in the situation was eBay as they made a truck load of money off people selling their systems on their auction system.

In coming up with these commandments we tried to keep them based in reality.  Ideally everyone who wants a console after it launches should be able to get one but the laws of supply and demand just don't work that way.   That said we have tried to have a some fun with the commandments and they should be taken with tongue firmly in cheek.

1. Thou shall not force us to kill for your system, thou shall have at least 600,000 units at launch
Look we know it's hard to hold units as you want to get them out the door so you can start making(well, losing) money on the hardware.  Resist this urge and instead make sure you have enough consoles so that people don't have to wait in line for days or pay exorbitant prices on eBay to buy your console.  Instead wait until you've got at least 600,000 units on hand so that almost everybody who wants one on launch day can get one.  Sure, there might be a shortage for a while afterwards but make sure that everybody goes home happy on launch day.  

This will also help increase attach rate as there won't be as many eBay scalpers who are trying to make a little money on eBay.  This means more money in your pocket from accessory sales.  This also makes your game developers happy as they will have more time to finish their games as well as providing them with a larger customer base to sell their games to.  It's a win-win for everyone.

Eliminating world wide launches could helps this.  Do you really need to launch globally?  Sure it looks cool on a press release but there's something to be said for using one market to build buzz and generate hype for the others.  Of course as an American I can say that because we get everything first and the only console waiting game I've had to play was for a DS Lite so take that with a grain of salt.

2. Thou shall have enough accessories to go with the system
If you've got the hardware you should have all the extra components people need to play your system with friends and family.  This includes extra controllers, video cables, and memory cards.  Sure the Wii had nearly enough units at launch but it's damn near impossible to find extra Wiimotes, Nunchuks, and component video cables without having to buy them off eBay.  This is inexcusable given the family, multi-player nature of the system.  I know predicting sales for a system is a bit of a guessing game but it is frustrating to have such a great system and not have the components necessary to play with friends and family.

3. Honor the father and the mother, do not charge more than $350 for thy next system
We all know that new technology is expensive and that hard core gamers will pay anything to get their hands on new equipment but in the future let's try to keep in mind that not all gamers or purchasers have $400-600 of disposable income around the holidays.  When you buy a console you end up paying for the console plus another $150-200 on games and accessories which turns a $400 console into $600 purchase and a $600 console into $800 purchase, both of which are just insane. 

Sure the market wants innovation but let's keep the consumers in mind with the next generation of consoles and plan accordingly.  Pick one or two new technologies and save the new ones for add on (like Microsoft did with the HD DVD drive). 

4. You shall not bear false witness against your system specs
We know that system specs are one big measuring...erm, contest but be truthful with your specs.  Sony's the big culprit here but never over-hype and under deliver. It's always better to give out the minimum specs on a machine and to add to it later. It's never good to promise something in there only to cut it out down the road. Don't dazzle us with pre-rendered footage and claim that it's running in real time or give us numbers based on reference samples for a processor.  We know the hype machine is fun to run but it's better to set the expectations low and then surpass them than over promise and under deliver.

5. You shall not steal extra money from us by not including key components in the box
If you're going to claim to be a high definition gaming system you need to include the cables it will take to play your system in HD in the box.  I get that you're losing money on the hardware at the launch of the system but it seems cheap when people have to spend another $30-40 to play the system in HD.

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