Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The PS3 Could Still End Up on Top

You've probably read my prior posts where I've ripped the PS3 up and down for the decisions Sony made. I'm still not in full agreement with Sony going toward the Blu-Ray platform so early in the PS3's life. The Playstation had a CD-ROM drive (Compact Discs were introduced in 1982, 7th Guest was one of the first CD-ROM games in 1992) when it came out in 1994 in Japan (1995 in the US). The Playstation 2 had a DVD drive in it (DVD players were first sold in 1997 in the US) and came out in late 2000, over 3 years after the format had begun. In the case of Blu-Ray, the players just recently came out and now they are going to unload a ton of Blu-Ray players in the PS3. It's not a very good idea to unload a new format onto a game system, but Sony will try it anyway.

In the end though I don't think any negative aspect is going to push people away from the Playstation 3. Just tonight I put a post up in Evil Avatar that I would like to duplicate here and talk a bit more about it. Here is my post:

I've always argued that Sony has had a static mindset since they first announced the PS3. They personally believe the PS3 will survive and thrive just on the Playstation name alone. To many people, given the price and what they feel are missteps by Sony, this mindset is seen as arrogant. However, history shows that Sony may just be right and know that no matter the price people will pick the system up just because of the trusted Playstation name.

You may ask me what I mean by historically, well let's use Wikipedia and spell it out purely in system sales.

We'll start with the system many of the late 20s to 30s+ people played with growing up, the Atari 2600. The Atari 2600 sold 25 million systems.

Nintendo owned the land for a long time after Atari and here are their numbers:

NES: 60 million units
GameBoy: 69.52 million units
Super NES: 49 million units
Nintendo 64: 32.93 million units
GameBoy Color: 49.27 million units
GameBoy Advance: 75.81 million units
GameBoy Advance SP: 38.84 million units
DS: over 22 million units
GameBoy Micro: 1.86 million units
DS Lite: 4.15 million units (June 2006)

With Sony, things went like this:

Playstation: 102 million (shipped, which is different than sold)
Playstation 2: 106.23 million (shipped)
PSP: 20.02 million (shipped)

Of the actual consoles Nintendo racked up ~142 million sold. With the handheld GameBoy in various iterations (including DS) they have racked up ~262 million sold. The original GameBoy and its iterations account for ~119 million of that and the Advance iterations account for ~117 million.

Moral of the story here is that Nintendo's main consoles have sold less as they went along. With Sony, the Playstation 2 has overtaken the original in units sold and even the original PS sold 40+ million more than the original NES. Playstation is a brand name that many people are interested in. I'm not sure Xbox 360 or Wii can penetrate the bias people have with the Playstation brand whether the PS3 is more expensive or not. We live in a Playstation world and it is indeed an uphill battle for both Microsoft and Nintendo.

I personally think Sony is crazy with the price and I hope people won't pick up the PS3 in massive quantities. I am also a realist though and know the Playstation brand will probably live and thrive through another generation, especially if they keep some major franchises as exclusive (FF, MGS, etc.).

The loss for Sony this round will probably come from the fact that they won't see a massive buy-in for Blu-Ray movies (much like UMD movies have all but died out) which is an integral part of their decisions with the PS3. I'm not sure the mainstream public is ready to move into the next generation of optical movie media and it may take several years before DVD falls out of favor toward a new format.

In the end I have to believe the PS3 is going to turn out just fine and sell well. I'd love to pick one up, but I'm not sure I'll be going after it first day like I did with the Xbox 360. Chances are good that many people will stand in line to get one and then they'll sell it on eBay for a tidy profit. I think you'll have a far greater chance at getting a Nintendo Wii two days later if you need a new game system.

I think the weakest parts of the launch kind of mirror the Xbox 360 launch. There really isn't any game that has been announced that will blow us away. Most of the games are ports and, much like Penny Arcade noted today in their comic, I'm not too excited about Resistance even though Insomniac is making it. Maybe something will pop out, but who knows.

A weak spot where the PS3 does not mirror the Xbox 360 launch is in online play. It's already been noted that Tony Hawk Project 8 won't have an online component like it's 360 cousin. There are rumors of other non-Sony games not having online play either. Sony's own games will though, that being Resistance and Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom.

No matter the negatives I think the PS3 is going to sell well and could possibly take over the Xbox 360 in system sales. The price will be a deterrent, but once Sony gets into 2007 and starts bringing out high profile exclusive games, the allure of the PS3 might be too strong for many people. Sony will continue to have the mindset that the Playstation brand name sells until they are proven wrong. The consumers would have to prove them wrong here, but somehow I don't see it happening.