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Does Michael Pachter Know What He's Talking About?

An Industry Analyst Says the Wii U Will Fail. How Often is He Right?

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Remember when Microsoft doubled the price of Xbox Live? Did you play Grand Theft Auto V when it came out in 2010? Were you pleased that Kinect launched at $50? Are you happy that the console wars have finally ended?

If none of that sounds familiar, it’s because these are just a few of the widely off-the-mark predictions of video game industry analyst Michael Pachter.

In January, after reading one too many ridiculous predictions from Pachter, I declared nintendo.about.com a Pachter-free zone, but while I can keep him off this site, I can’t keep him off every other gaming site, and I have been forced to read endless nonsensical Pachter predictions about the Wii U. So I decided to suspend the no-Pachter rule for just a single day in order to explore exactly how often Pachter actually gets things right.

Methodology:

To find Pachter’s predictions, I searched for Pachter on The Escapist (I could have used any gaming website, I just happened to be on that one when I thought of this). There’s nothing from him before 2007, so that’s where I start. (The Escapist, by the way, describes Pachter as “seemingly ubiquitous,” as though they aren’t part of the reason for that.)

Pachter’s quotes are a mix of prediction, analysis, advice to game companies, complaints about companies not taking his advice, rumors (sometimes stated as fact) and general pot-stirring (like mocking Team Bondi’s complaints about horrible working conditions, for which he later gave a half-hearted apology).

I just look at actual predictions. Some predictions are simply educated guesses about what’s already happened, like predicting what an NPD report about sales will say, so I ignore those. I also skip predictions for things like mergers, which don’t seem relevant to the central question of whether Pachter is qualified to predict the success of a game console like the Wii U.

As I suspected, Pachter is wrong a lot. He predicted that we were in the “last generation of consoles,” before the Wii U, PS4, and Xbox One were announced. He predicted Kinect was unlikely to sell for more than $80. He promised Grand Theft Auto V would arrive by 2010, then by 2011, then by 2012.

Not that’s he’s always wrong. He predicted Kinect would vastly outsell the Playstation Move, that Activision would find a way to charge for Call of Duty multiplayer and that Take 2 would have a killer 2010.

But he’s wrong often enough that one wonders why people keep quoting him. And he’s certainly wrong often enough that there’s no good reason to pay any mind to his dire predictions for the Wii U.

The Pachter Predictions: Right or Wrong?

Kinect and Move:

Feb 2010: “Project Natal” (Kinect) will cost $50. “Very surprised if it’s more than $79,” “hard to envision” at $150.
Wrong: it was $150.

Feb 2010: Natal will outsell Sony’s “Arc” (PS Move) 5 to 1.
Correct: based on how bundles of the two systems sold.

Miscellaneous

Oct. 2008: Pachter rates EA a “strong buy,” but does say management is doing a poor job.
Wrong: In December of 2008 EA Stock dropped 25% in two days.

November 2008: Assassin’s Creed 2 will be set in the 17th Century.
Wrong by 200 years; it was in the 15th Century

Dec 2008: Says core gamers will keep buying games in same numbers, “have no clue we are in a recession.”
Unclear, since even though the game industry was hit by the recession, I can’t find figures specific to core gamer purchases.

March 2009: This is the “last generation of consoles.” There will be no new consoles ever (or at least for a very long time) from Microsoft and Sony, though Nintendo may put out a Wii HD with more storage.
Very wrong: Nintendo skipped the Wii HD and went straight to a new, more powerful console with a new control system, known as the Wii U, and even though Pachter denies it’s a next-gen console, it’s certainly not just a Wii HD. Within a year of its release, Microsoft and Sony had announced their own next-gen systems to launch in 2013.

Subscription Fees:

Oct 2009: Xbox Live to possibly double in cost in next few years.
Unknown: The advantage of saying up to a certain amount is, if it’s less, you still can claim you’re right. So the $10 yearly raise in 2010 means Pachter was right in saying the price would go up. And since he gave himself “a few years,’ it could go up again, although the $100 he suggested still seems far off.

Sept. 2010: Predicts Microsoft will soon introduce a $100 “platinum” Xbox live membership
Wrong: We’re still waiting on that.

Jul 2010: Activision will find way to charge for Call of Duty online play
Correct: It’s called Call of Duty Elite.

Price Cuts:

July 2007: 360 Elite will drop from $479 to $399.
Partially Correct: In August 2007, Elite dropped to $449. But it didn’t reach $400 until around a year after that.

Jan 2009: Predicts PS3 price drop in April; 80 GB PS3 will go from $399 to $299.
Fairly Correct: Off by a few months.

Jun 2010: No price cut coming for PS3.
Correct.

Oct. 2010: 360 bundled with Kinect will drop by up to $50 early in 2011
Probably Correct: You know what, it’s really hard to figure out price cuts via Google. But you can get a Kinect bundle for Pachter’s predicted price of $300 now, so my best guess is he was right.

Software Sales:

Nov 2007: Guitar Hero III will generate half billion in fiscal year
Correct: It was a huge seller.

Mar 2008: Pachter predicts GTA4 will sell well
Correct, I assume. This one is so obvious I’m not even research it.

Jul 2009: Take 2 will “dominate” 2010.
Correct.

Grand Theft Auto 5:

March 2009: Next Grand Theft Auto game will come out in 2010, outsell GTA:IV.
Jul 2009: Next GTA game to come out by 2011.
Dec 2010: Next GTA game to come out by 2012.
Wrong: In late November, 2011 Rockstar announced GTA:V was in “full development,” but as of the fall of 2012 they still haven't announced a release date.

The PS3/360 Race:

Jan 2009: PS3 won’t catch up to 360 in U.S. until 2014.
Jun 2009: Sony will push Microsoft into third place by 2015 (with Wii still on top, apparently)
Jun 2009: PS3 will push ahead of Wii in 5 years, unless Nintendo stops that with the release of a Wii HD.
Unknown: We can’t say if he’s right or wrong for a couple more years, but so far he hasn’t been proved wrong on this.

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