Sony's ongoing PlayStation Network outage is coming back to hit the company where it hurts: in the pocket. Edge spoke with various UK retailers who say customers are growing impatient with the inability to play games online, which has resulted in declining PlayStation-related sales along with a growing trend of PlayStation 3 returns.
One store manager said PS3 trade-ins have increased by over 200%, with about half of the customers requesting cash and the other half taking an Xbox 360 in exchange. A retail employee at another store reported a similar trend of PS3 trade-ins, with many disgruntled Sony customers returning their console for an Xbox 360 -- especially the "hardcore online shooter crowd."
Tom Mestagh of GameSwap, an independent Belgian retailer, echoed those findings. Although it's common for people to sell their consoles for quick bill money, Mestagh has observed a difference in recent dealings. Instead of selling just their console, people are bringing their PS3 with all their games and they want an Xbox 360, not cash. He also noted that those customers tend to be Black Ops or Modern Warfare 2 players.
Edge compared recent game sales from before and after the outage. In mid to late March, 49% to 52% of Black Ops sales were for the Xbox 360 while 37% to 40% were for the PS3. On April 30, 10 days into the outage, Black Ops sales were divided 59% to 30% in Microsoft's favor. That gap widened last week with 66% of sales on the Xbox and 24% on the PS3. FIFA 11 shows the same trend with PS3 sales falling from 37% to 21%.
Unsurprisingly, retailers also said that Sony's customer satisfaction has plummeted. "Overall, people that have traded with us seem annoyed at how Sony has handled all of this, and say they would not trust them with details again in the future," said one source. Edge made it clear that its report is based on a small sample and that UK hardware sales are rarely broken down by platform, so we may never see the big picture.