The question is: Can Sony convince its existing customers that the vastly expensive move to the next generation is actually worth it?Europeans who fancy getting their hands on the 20GB model of the PS3 will also be disappointed, since Sony has decided not to launch the cheaper version of the console in this market - not initially, at least. The company says it'll continue to monitor demand for the 20GB version, of course, and claims that it's only going with the 60GB version as the sole offering because that's what retail has told them to do. Whether that's entirely true or not (we've spoken to several retailers who seem bitterly disappointed at the decision to launch a single SKU and not offer a lower priced proposition), it's obvious where the decision has its basis. Sony are no doubt mindful of the fiasco at the launch of the Xbox 360, when Microsoft chose to ship a large number of crippled Core systems as part of its day one allocation - leaving frustrated consumers who wanted the premium system stuck with buying a Core, and then battling over short stocks of the hard drive add-on.
Sony is obviously keen to avoid this situation, and clearly feels that the first adopters of the PS3 will be the kind of people who'll want the all-singing, all-dancing 60GB model - even if the addition of a HDMI port to the 20GB model means that realistically, the only singing and dancing which the lower-spec system can't accomplish is wireless Internet access. The hard drive size question seems largely irrelevant at this point; there probably won't be enough seriously interesting content out there to fill a 20GB drive for months, and besides, you can buy an off-the-shelf drive and slot it into the PS3 for a fraction of the price differential between the two models of the console. The lower spec PS3 is no Xbox 360 Core system - in fact, it's by far the most attractive option in terms of value - but on this point, at least, we can see Sony's reasoning, and it's true that early adopters will almost certainly prefer the hi-spec model. What we don't see is why there's no clear timeline for the introduction of the 20GB model; if Sony is to make an impact next Christmas, with the first wave of early adopters already sated and software still trickling onto the shelves, it needs to have that more attractive value proposition on shelves with plenty of time to spare.
On a more positive note, however, it's worth mentioning that once again Sony Europe's unfortunate bumping from the global release plan has at least yielded a launch which is a little less anemic than the US and Japanese launches were in several key respects. For a start, European PS3s will undoubtedly ship with the latest version of the console's firmware, which means that consumers here will never be faced with the unpleasant graphical glitches which plagued the backwards compatibility modes of the console until the launch of updated firmware recently - but more importantly, the range of software available, both at retail and in Sony's online PlayStation Store, will be significantly more impressive than it was before Christmas at the other launches.
Sony is promising 30 titles for the European launch, and while several of the third-party games on the list have already launched on the Xbox 360 in the last 12 months - some to enormous critical acclaim (Oblivion), some to utter derision (Sonic the Hedgehog) - the line-up is still an incredibly strong one, doubly so if you don't own an Xbox 360. That's a point which is largely overlooked in discussions about the PS3's early line-up; to a hardcore gamer or someone in the industry, it looks like having a line-up filled with Xbox 360 titles is a point of weakness, but to consumers who are less involved in the games "scene" but still interested in Sony's latest, the sudden availability of surprisingly well-polished next-gen software at launch is a hugely attractive prospect. The fact that it's already been on Xbox 360 doesn't matter to anyone who doesn't own an Xbox 360.
However, the point remains that the number of people who are prepared to spend over 500 pounds buying a console and a few games is finite - and it remains to be seen just how finite it actually is. While dedicated gaming consumers may well turn to the Xbox 360 as a more economical proposition for next-gen gaming, and the Wii will undoubtedly continue to make waves among consumers looking for something a bit different to do with their leisure time, the most serious challenge that Sony needs to overcome is, ironically, the power of PlayStation. Commentators have said for years that the PlayStation brand will be enough to see Sony through this generation - and to some extent, that may indeed be true. However, there's a flip-side to that argument - which is that the PlayStation brand is not the sole dominion of the PlayStation 3.
Across Europe - and around the world - there are millions of gamers still playing on the PlayStation 2, an installed base larger than the PS1 had when its successor launched, and by all measures, an installed base much more satisfied with the experiences they're getting from their console than the PS1's players were in 2001. This is the true hurdle facing not only Sony, but Microsoft as well - convincing people that they actually need to replace the PS2 underneath their televisions with a new box that offers better experiences. It will happen, of course, but the more satisfied consumers are with their existing system, the lower the bar to entry to the next generation needs to be for them to decide to make the upgrade.
In the PS3's case - and, frankly, in the Xbox 360's case, although not necessarily for the same reasons - that bar is nowhere near sufficiently low. When the industry transitioned from PlayStation to PS2, many consumers stuck with the previous generation for a couple of years before making the switch - an overlap which Sony was keen to exploit, although third-party publishers found themselves leaving money on the table by abandoning the PSone too early. This time around, though, the effect looks like it may be even more pronounced. It's by no means empirical, of course, but a straw poll of friends and relatives who own PS2s reveals that few of them are interested in upgrading to the PS3 within the next 12 months; they all accept that they will probably do so eventually, but intend to leave it for several years until the machine is significantly cheaper and some of the best games are on budget ranges. It will be little consolation to Sony that even fewer of them are interested in the Xbox 360 at all - not least since Microsoft's head-start will allow it to reach critical price-cut points much earlier than its rival, which may well spur interest even among gamers whose sole experience of the medium to date has been the PlayStation family.
In a sense, of course, this is a good problem to have - there are companies in other industries who would give their right arms to have a user-base that continues to strongly support an existing platform even after a new platform is announced or launched. However, if the effect is too pronounced (and the ongoing reports of sluggish stock movement of the PS3 in the United States and Japan suggests that it may well be), then Sony faces a serious problem in getting the PS3 to a credible installed base in the first couple of years. The console needs critical mass, not only to convince the industry to throw its backing fully behind Sony's efforts, but also to convince the stock markets and financial institutions that Sony can actually maintain its lead in this crucial sector. Despite the obvious financial benefits of the continued success of the PlayStation 2, Sony's biggest problem in the next 12 months is going to be overcoming its own success - and convincing its existing customers that the vastly expensive move to the next generation is actually worth it.
My answer: It actually depends on the 3rd party support and their games and is not Sony's choice to decide.
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I dont agree with many of the views about the article but none the less not an overall bad read. Its just that once again we have an article that doesnt say anything. I realize that this is the border from the Euro-launch but like a million other articles this really isnt telling me anything.
I think Europe could be a deciding factor this gen. and I really want to see how well the PS3 does initially and in the coming months.
All in all this console generation is like a soap opera and is much more entertaining than network television.
Sony just has to convey what value the PS3 has and make people believe it has that value now and that the value to them will only increase further in the future.
I haven't heard they are doing a good enough job of that as of yet. Hopefully the March Euro launch will represent a change of wind for Sony and conveying this message better.
I think it has to do with both first and third party games, and the success of BD as fast as possible. And of course the association of all these games and BD with the PS3.
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I have to agree with this 1000%. I was just thinking about this, and here's what it breaks down to. The Wii is selling because it's cheap and something new, and the amount of positive press it got in the news is astounding. The 360 is selling to Hardcore gamers only. I'm willing to bet that 95% of the people who have bought 360's are either hardcore PC gamers, or people who owned an Xbox 1. Along comes the PS3... Initially, as we all know, most game systems sell only to the hardcore gamers, and unfortunately, Sony doesn't have the most positive view with many of them right now. They also have no interesting games in their lineup, and so many of the hardcore gamers (who know exactly when games are coming out and whatnot) are waiting to buy the PS3 when there are more games available. I personally know 4 people who are waiting until March or April to buy a PS3, even though they want one now.
And then there's the biggest issue; the PS2. All of the people who have PS2's are probably clueless that there is a PS3, or see no reason to upgrade at this point since there are still tons of games coming out for PS2. If Sony wanted to really have the PS3 catch on, they would have pulled a Microsoft and Nintendo, and pulled most of the support for the system early, and moved the games over to the PS3. I am willing to wager that if Zelda came out for Gamecube and not Wii, it would not have sold as well as it did.
I also recently saw a few people post how they would buy a PS3 to replace their PS2 if it upscaled and added anti-aliasing to the games, and had properly played PS2 games up until this point. They also are saying how they'll just buy God of War 2, and Rogue Galaxy and whatnot for their PS2's.
It's unfortunate, and I wonder what Sony is going to about it. That being said, once there's some more games for PS3 available, it will start to sell like crazy.
agreed, I can't see why should i spend extra cash on the ps3 now.
Most multi platform games look better on the 360. Exclusives will make or break the ps3.
Sony hasn't done anything to convince people why buy the Ps3. Blu ray is a bonus, but not the system seller like Sony thinks.
I'd bet Sony's bottom line doesn't really see this as problematic. They're making money back on PS2s, and PS3 hasn't gained enough momentum yet. It's big brother is still carrying the weight in a big way.
Sony wouldn't care, the ps2 makes them a lot of money on hardware and software, they are not stupid (usually), they are not going to drop a product that has saved their ass so many times before.
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Something i noticed today and Sony should be worried. I've seen Assassin and Unreal 3 gameplay first playable on the 360, eventhough both games have been announced on the PS3 first. It seems like devs ignore Sony as the real deal.
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And they've been selling and getting a profit out of PS2 sales well before they launched PS3. They still have a margin for PS3 hardware sales losses, but they sure need to make PS3 profitable in all ways as soon as possible.
i applaud them on the cutting out of the lesser sku. i hated when M$ did it.
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