Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sony Bailing Like Mad to Rescue Sinking Ship

Sony announced they would halve the cost of the development kit for the ailing PS3 in order to boost developer interest, and (hopefully) start turning out games. This is an ill sign for the ill-fated console. Much like the similarly ill-fated Sega Dreamcast and a number of start-up consoles the PS3 suffers from some bad decisions on the part of the producing company. Here is the deadly mix:
  1. Forcing adoption of new technology, in this case the Blu-Ray media format.
  2. Lack of titles. This is the biggest killer of any game console. You get a game console to play games a shortage in this department means a disappointing Christmas bonus for your front line developers and employees.
  3. Ridiculously high price point. This was a major killer of Dreamcast, Neo-Geo, and 3D-O, among others. Your high price point may tell the consuming public that your console has the latest greatest technologies, but if they can't afford it they won't buy it. In this case, when the PS3 first came out it was possible to purchase the XBox 360 and the Nintendo Wii for the cost of one PS3. Way to alienate your public, Sony.
Sales of the PS3 of lagged behind the other two major consoles since the launch of the system. This is due in part to a lack of support by game developers and the afore mentioned high price. Recent numbers show XBox and Wii each with over a half-million sales for the month of September and PS3 with under 200 thousand. More telling is the fact that the previous generation console, the PS2, has consistently outsold its high-tech successor.

I don't want this to sound like a flame on Sony. I genuinely feel they produce good, solid products. Truthfully, they've just had a difficult year. My feeling is I would like to see them ditch the PS3 and steal a page from both Microsoft and Nintendo. Make a console whose format doesn't force adoption of new technology, has a reasonable price point, great online support, and games that are genuinely fun to play. With the technology that's available there's no reason Sony couldn't build a game console that plays top of the line games, has a good sized hard drive, plays HD movies, provides online support, and costs less than $400.

If you build it, they will buy.

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