Out of left field, it seems that today became ‘Defend Michael Pachter Day’ after my beloved colleagues over at The Escapist posted a write-up about how hard Michael Pachter works every day and his various missteps over the years. Pachter is kind of a gaming industry celebrity and definitely the only analyst (he works for Wedbush Morgan) who’ll step on camera for investment advice and industry speculation, which is why major outlets keep enlisting him for air time and an extra paragraph in their gaming industry news piece. GameTrailers even gave him his own show.
My relationship with Michael Pachter goes back nearly a decade, back to the web forums where posting an article with his name in the header was an invite for a cheap laugh. I’ve never met the guy, I’m sure he’s swell. He obviously works really hard, but Nostradamus, Mister Pachter, is not.
To round up some of my favorite Pachter misfires, I followed a cue from Charles Herold over at About.com where he cites a number of famous predictions (ironically, he’s spot on about the Wii U being a failure), like a $50 Kinect (it debuted at $150), or what about when Sony and Microsoft wouldn’t release any further hardware after the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 (because obviously), and what about those few years it would take for Xbox Live to double in price (it’s gone up $10 since annual cards were made available in 2004). Here’s another example: remember when he said in 2005 that Sony would have 55% of the home console market by 2010? What about two years later, after the Wii rocket had already blasted toward the sun, when he said it would dominate by 36%? What about when Pachter said that World of Warcraft‘s growth would stall in 2005 and it would wind up back at a million users because there really weren’t more than four million people who wanted to play online games per month? What about Kutaragi succeeding then-Sony CEO Howard Stringer, even after all the crazy things he had said about the PlayStation 3? (Kutaragi’s No. 2, Kaz Hirai, would end up taking the spot.)
Pachter has played off many of his mistakes as only ‘the fanboys caring’, but this is a man who has been enlisted, over and over again, to provide solid advice about the gaming industry. You don’t need to be on the e-mail 24/7 or be making phone calls to powerful executives to see the greater picture here. When I still posted at TeamXbox’s forums, I was more than happy to enlist the opinions of fellow posters before such a hooked in, well-placed analyst like Pachter. It’s not even that he’s slightly wrong when he makes some of these predictions, he’s straight loony wrong. If I had dollars to invest, would I ask Pachter to guide me through the mixed terrain of the gaming industry? Absolutely not. His crystal ball is foggy beyond a month out. Oh sure, he gets things right sometimes, he sure does, bless his heart, but broken clocks and time and the relationship thereof.
So, no, I don’t get the cult of celebrity around Pachter. No, I don’t understand why people keep pulling him for quotes. But I’ll keep reading about him, maybe his foresight will improve.