There are a few things our Germanic friends absolutely love: Beer, Bratwurst and… PlayStation. Ever since its industry-disrupting arrival in 1994, Sony’s console has struck a chord with German gamers in a way that no other console has.
Unfortunately for Microsoft, when it came to the German market, its last console was almost dead on arrival. With the PS4 selling the Xbox One more than 4 to 1 in Germany, Microsoft faces the kind of uphill struggle in Germany that is only second to its similar struggles in Japan. Yet according to one next-gen peripheral manufacturer, the Xbox Series consoles are finally turning the tide.
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It looks like Xbox is finally breaking through in Germany
Speaking to Stealth Optional, Snakebyte’s Head of Marketing Marc-Alexander Knipschild reveals that for the first time ever, retailers are stocking every single Xbox Series X/S tie-in product, where normally they only take one or two:
“This is the first time that I personally think that Microsoft has made a good start with a new console in Germany,” reveals Knipschild. “All of our Xbox Series Snakebyte products were listed by our major retailers.
“That's interesting - because I really wouldn't have expected that! For past console generations, retailers buy the whole range for PlayStation and they choose maybe two or three Xbox products, but this time almost every retailer listed our whole Xbox Series range.”
Previous generations have been hard for Xbox in Germany
Ever since Sony’s industry-disrupting console launch in 1994, Germany has sworn its allegiance to PlayStation.
It’s a fact that Knipschild is all too aware of, having helped launch the PS1 console in the country all that time ago. Yet it’s not just Snakebyte Xbox Series accessories that are flying off German shelves – console pre-orders are surprisingly high, too.
“The Xbox is not that strong in Germany - we are a PlayStation country,” Reaffirms Knipschild, “And I think for quite some time we will be. But nevertheless, if you look at the pre-orders for both consoles, even in Germany, pre-orders are almost equal.”
So what changed?
The secret behind Xbox’s surprising German comeback? According to Knipschild, it’s Microsoft’s new consumer-focused approach:
“I think that Microsoft has done a clever deal with the new Series X and S - with Game Pass and backward compatibility, etc. I think they're on the right path. They really missed most of the opportunities of the last generations, but this time, I think they really nailed it. I mean, okay, buying ZeniMax for $7.5 billion is a big way to make a statement!”
At $3 million more than Disney paid for Star Wars, Microsoft's Bethesda-buying deal certainly puts the pressure on Sony. Yet for third parties, it’s a delightful move. Having more Xbox players in Germany not only benefits the industry as a whole, of course, but during a time like the one we’re living through – that extra revenue stream is especially important to a company like Snakebyte.
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How has COVID-19 affected companies like Snakebyte?
“COVID? Don't even get me started,” jokes Knipschild. “As you can imagine, 100% of the products we do sell are manufactured in China. The next-gen products, luckily, were in the whole process of developing and producing after China opened up again – so they weren’t completely affected.
"But still, we have a bit of a problem because not all parts of China are open. The borders from Hong Kong to China - most of them are still closed, and Hong Kong is now under surveillance by China. So less containers can leave the city… And of course, we're not the only ones who produce there. So, it's still a problem.”
“Snakebyte, luckily, was not hit that hard. we could have launched earlier, the next gen products. But I think you just have to look at Microsoft and Sony and others to see that everyone is struggling.”
Yet despite the pandemic causing Snakebyte a huge amount of stress, thankfully it came with a glimmer of hope, too.
“The cool thing about this mess in retrospect is that people who stay at home people who don't get to work, tend to play more tend to do more gaming and online gaming. And so I feel lucky for our branch of business that COVID still brought in some sales. Retail was closed everywhere in Europe in March for a period of six to eight weeks. And those are important spring weeks. So we lost those sales completely. But we have online channels. So we could say that in general, it was okay to bad, but there are other people that were hit far worse.”