Tanya sent me this article on the difference between Gears of War and Halo 3 in their abilities to drive adoption of the XBox 360. In the article, he debates whether Gears of War has been successful in driving sales of XBox 360.
After selling nearly 3 million copies worldwide (nearly 1 for every 3 XBox 360’s) it has become a staple in any gamer’s library. But a true killer app should drive people to buy the console. Looking at Xbox 360 shoppers online, Gears of War was a great success among current owners, but Microsoft will have to wait until next holiday season for its first console-defining game.
Comparing Halo 3 to Gears of War on this metric, three things become apparent: Gears of War may have sold a lot of copies but it was only marginally effective at driving 360 adoption (calling its “killer app” status into question).
The author has his terms mixed up here (even though he references a Wikipedia definition that supports his assertion). According to Dave’s Authoritative Dictionary, a killer app is a product that drives a tremendous amount of sales, reinforces brand identity and disrupts competing products in the app’s market segment. A killer app is an innovation that not only taps into a need or desire in a significant way, but it also taps into needs and desires that consumers weren’t’ even aware they had. But once they experience the killer app and gain realization, their reaction is, “Yes, of course.” That in turn drives evangelism, which accelerates growth from early adopters to close followers to the consuming masses.
A product that drives the adoption of a supporting platform is one that has a halo effect. Examples would be the iPod having a halo effect on Macintosh sales, Halo 3 driving XBox 360 sales or increased BMW sales after the BMW F1 team wins a race (win on Sunday, sell on Monday).
Yes it is important and desirable for XBox 360to grow as a platform but Microsoft is still losing money on 360 consoles, so to have Gears of War in the library of 1 out of 3 XBox 360 owners at $60 a pop is a good thing because Microsoft is actually making money on the game.
Plus, as gamers rave about Gears of War to their friends and on web forums, GoW buzz creates an associated level of buzz and excitement for the platform. The association with the halo effect is: Gee, if GoW is so incredible, and it only runs on the 360, the 360 must also be incredible. It’s the same as, Gee, if BMW won at Interlagos, their cars must be sweet. I must have a BMW. The association of a desirable characteristic is made to a related product and that association drives sales.
So, my point is that while GoW may not be directly driving platform sales by the author’s implied definition, i.e. consumers go to Best Buy and purchase both GoW and a 360, GoW is still an important and valuable game because it drives revenue and builds brand identity.