Making the grade at Gaming U.
Ring the bell. It's time to see how this generation's video game machines did on their report cards.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - All right class, I know you're eager to clean out your lockers, but summer vacation doesn't begin until you've all received your end of term grades.
Let's start with our star student. PlayStation 2, come to the head of the class.
You really had a near flawless semester. You shipped more units than anyone else in the class - 103 million - and, consequently, you sold more software than anyone else, too (over 1 billion games at last count). In 2005 alone, you generated $826 million in revenue, greatly impressing your economics professor, Mr. Wall Street. You also captured exclusivity bragging rights for the biggest third party games out there, including the "Grand Theft Auto" franchise from Take Two Interactive (Charts). And even when that franchise was sent to the principal's office, you emerged without any demerits.
You were significantly behind the curve when it came to online gaming, though. You did manage to complete the assignment of putting together an online component and while it was certainly functional and attracted gamers, it seemed somewhat thrown together and tacked on. I know you're revising the project and I look forward to seeing what you turn in next semester - but don't think I haven't noticed you sneaking peeks at what Xbox has done with this.
Academically, you've done wonderfully - and you've rightfully earned your grade of "A." Congratulations on that.
I am attaching a note for your parent Sony (Charts), though, because I'm becoming more and more concerned about your attitude. You've become increasingly arrogant this term and you're starting to alienate people. It's not affecting sales yet, but I know how image conscious you kids are - and it's hurting your image. You've been the BMOC for a long while. Don't let hubris ruin that for you.
Xbox? Front and center, young man.
You were the new kid this year - and some people thought you were trying to buy your way into respectability. You quickly shut them up, though, with impressive performances in your art and graphics class. You also set the standard for online gaming, even convincing people that paying extra for that sort of thing wasn't a bad thing. Mr. Street did back flips over that, but you're hardly his favorite student. After all, you never managed to turn a profit on your hardware. In fact, you ultimately lost $168 for every unit you sold, according to "The Xbox 360 Uncloaked," by San Jose Mercury News writer Dean Takahashi.
You did earn extra credit in the marketing class for your "Halo 2" project, showing your peers exactly how to launch a big game. You had consumers and media eating out of your hand. Heck, you somehow convinced even grocery stores to make a big deal out of the launch. That, class, is thinking creatively. Unfortunately, beyond "Halo 2," you were a bit starved for blockbusters.
Selling 23 million consoles isn't a bad start. It's paltry compared to Sony's impressive performance, but it was enough to earn you second place. You also won over a lot of critics and, for what it's worth, became the class cool kid. You did well, but you're capable of more. I expect to see a better performance from you next semester. Your grade is "B-."
Miss GameCube? Can we speak in private?
Frankly, I'm quite disappointed in you. Your brothers and sisters have been star pupils for years, but you never seemed to apply yourself. You were late with software homework assignments and many projects lacked heart. You were absent when we discussed important topics like online gaming. And frankly, your fashion sense was questionable. (A purple box with a handle? Hardly stylish.) This laissez faire attitude let everyone in class bypass you, yet you never seemed to really care.
Your cousin - Game Boy Advance - did outstanding work, rightfully earning his "A." You risked expulsion at times. Yes, your sales, at 21 million, were close to Xbox - but with your pedigree, I was expecting much better numbers. Be happy with your grade of "D." I certainly hope your younger brother Wii doesn't follow in your footsteps.
Blast, the lunch bell is ringing. Publishers... don't get too comfortable. You'll get your grades soon enough.
Morris is Director of Content Development for CNNMoney.com. Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org