India: PS5 Price Drop, Steam Deck Sales, Resident Evil 4 Remake Shortage, and More
Kept you waiting huh?
It’s been a hot minute since I fired up Substack to drop a new newsletter. This has been in part due to a lot of movement on the day job and some time away from the internet at large (which I highly recommend). Nonetheless, here’s what new and interesting from the Indian PC and console games market this year so far.
PS5 India price drop
Update on March 25, 2023 at 11:53am IST : Sony has confirmed this, stating “PlayStation India has announced a special summer promotional offer wherein customers can avail INR 5000/-* off on purchase of all variants of PS5 console. This offer starts from 1stApril 2023 onwards and will be valid for a limited period only.” Original report as follows:
Sources in the supply chain have confirmed that Sony will be announcing a PS5 price drop in line with what we've seen in the UK and Middle East. The PS5 will revert to its original India price of Rs. 49,990 for the disc version and Rs. 39,990 for the digital variant while bundles such as the console along with God of War Ragnarok will sport a Rs. 54,990 price tag as opposed to the existing Rs. 54,990 for the disc edition, Rs. 44,990 for the digital edition, and Rs. 59,990 for bundles.
With a slew of marketing and close to 20,000 PS5s imported in this year alone, it appears that Sony is looking to press the advantage in India. While 2022 saw around 100,000 PS5s sold between parallel and official channels since its February 2021 launch, it will be interesting to see where Sony lands at the end of this year.
Resident Evil 4 Remake and Hogwarts Legacy shortages
While it's no surprise that Capcom's perfect reimagining of the 2005 classic isn't getting an Xbox Series X release (after all, neither did GTA 5), what's disappointing is the impending shortage of the game on PS5 and PS4. Sources at retail tell me that distributor E-xpress misjudged demand for the game much like it did for Elden Ring. What does this mean for end users? Parallel importers will meet demand. Throw in the fact that unlike past games there are no lenticular or steelbook variants for India suggests that E-xpress wasn't prepared for the influx of pre-orders following the game's reviews and excellent demo. After Resident Evil 6, Resident Evil 4 Remake is the most pre-ordered Resident Evil game in India ever, which makes the state of affairs even more bizarre.
From opportunistic Amazon sellers hiking price on day one itself to Rs. 4999 to the game's pre-order price of Rs. 3,999 shooting up to Rs. 4,299 at launch, the all too obvious sales potential of Resident Evil 4 Remake appears to have caught retail and distribution off guard. Around 2,000 units between PS4 and PS5 have made it in to India and given the game's critical response, E-xpress should bring in more units soon, much like it had to do with Hogwarts Legacy. Less than 1,300 units of the standard edition of that game between Xbox Series X and PS5 hit store shelves while only 30 units of the deluxe edition were made available according to data obtained by Twitter account PS5 India that has been accurate in the past. Despite frequent restocks, Hogwarts Legacy continues to sell well. It might just end up being the best-selling game in India in 2023 thanks to releasing early in the year in February and the widespread appeal of the Harry Potter franchise in the country.
Returnal PC performance
Sony's release of Returnal on PC around the time of Hogwarts Legacy was a misfire at least in this market. While God of War, Spider-Man, and Spider-Man: Miles Morales saw some uptake at retail, the demand for the sci-fi roguelike was non-existent. Its high price of Rs. 3,999 didn't help either.
Though Sony's Returnal PC port is excellent on the Steam Deck it's far from perfect on Windows PCs. Sure it has a host of welcome additions like an excellent benchmarking tool as well a slew of customisation options, there seems to be ongoing issues with it such as micro-stuttering even on high-end PCs.
I tried it on both a desktop sporting an i7-10700, 32GB RAM, and an RTX 3070 as well as a laptop with an AMD Ryzen 7 6800H, 16GB RAM, and an RTX 3060. While I was able to maintain a frame rate well above 60fps with the right mix of settings, there was a frequent and annoying stutter that ruins the entire experience.
This is an ongoing issue with PC games running on Unreal Engine and some point to shader compilation being an issue. And while I'm far from having the technical prowess of Digital Foundry, I found myself reaching for my Steam Deck to explore more of what Atropos had to offer rather than any other device at my disposal. It was simply the more consistent and playable experience available. And speaking of the Steam Deck...
Steam Deck India sales
Valve doesn't have an India presence or seem to take an interest in the Indian market outside of enlisting esports behemoth Nodwin to run payment processing in the country. However that hasn't stopped parallel importers from bringing in its Steam Deck. First available in November 2022 for a starting price of around Rs. 80,000 for the 256GB version, it's dropped to about Rs. 50,000 as of now. The uptake has been solid too with around 5,000 units sold since November 2022 until this month. Most of these have been in tier 1 cities such as Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Delhi. The 256GB version has seen the most traction followed by the 512GB and 64GB.
With widespread availability in markets like the UAE, Hong Kong, and Japan it's no surprise that some stock has managed to find its way into India. Sure, there's a case to be made for Valve to launch it officially but it would be unlikely to even be close to what it sells for at parallel import stores and would be more expensive than it already is when you consider import duties, customs, and other costs of doing business such as service centres and after-sales support. Throw in that India contributes to about 0.5% to overall Steam traffic and laptop are still the mainstream choice, and it ends up being a whole lot less tempting a business proposition than these early numbers would suggest.
Chances are, we’ll see Valve take a greater interest in the market to push Counter-Strike 2 though that — and its rival Riot — are topics for another newsletter.
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