I know it seems like my blog has had a motto of “Sony sucks!” lately, but the fact is Sony has had nothing but bad press ever since their rather unimpressive E3 showing. Does Sony stand a chance this holiday season with their high price and seemingly arrogant attitude? They most definitely do, and here’s why:
1. The name you know: For seven straight years, Sony has dominated the best brand poll by Harris interactive. Nintendo was once synonymous with gaming, Sony has taken that, along with being the top recognized name in electronics. That generates a familiarity and customer loyalty that’s hard to break through. Customers who had a PS2 will most likely get a PS3 because generally speaking, they had a good experience with it and are willing to bank on the PS3 being an equally good experience.
2. It’s a steal: Maybe not compared to other consoles, but let’s not forget that the PS3 is reportedly offering cutting edge technology at what is considered for the market a bargain price. As has been stated before, $500-600 for a machine that can play games, Blu-ray movies, music and go online when the new Blu-ray players by themselves are going to be around $1000? Sounds like a bargain to me.
3. Blu-ray is the future: HD-DVD may be cheaper, but Blu-ray has the support of a large majority of the major Hollywood studios. That, combined with Sony using it as their game format could easily and quickly usher in the Blu-ray era, leaving DVD/HD-DVD players and the systems that utilize them in the dust.
4. SHINY!: Both Sony & Microsoft are betting that superior graphics will be a huge part of the console war. If it’s the defining one, Sony’s already the winner. Assuming they weren’t completely blowing smoke out of their ass at E3, they will easily have the most impressive titles in terms of looks, and let’s face facts-impressive graphics sell. Can you honestly take one look at trailers like Resistance: The Fall of Man or MGS4 (or even the conspicuously MIA Killzone from last year’s E3) and tell me those don’t make you want to go out and get a system that can reportedly pull off something that impressive.
5. It’s a status symbol: There is a certain segment of the population that’s wants the latest, most expensive, cutting edge hardware, and that’s exactly what Sony is marketing the PS3 as, and if they are successful, they will convince this segment that they need to have this system in order to stay ahead. I mean, I sure as hell don’t need a top of the line high-def TV to watch my favorite shows and movies, but do I want one? Absolutely. Simply put, owning the PS3 definitely makes a statement.
6. Familiar Faces: Want to play the new Final Fantasy, Devil May Cry, Ratchet & Clank or the next-gen God of War? Nintendo and Microsoft aren’t an option. Though exclusivity isn’t what it used to be, many of your favorite franchises from the last generation will only be available on the PS3, and while nobody can argue the sheer quality of Nintendo’s exclusive trio of Mario, Zelda & Metroid, Sony has such a large advantage in terms of more key franchises that it may not matter.
7. Free Deathmatch: As of right now, Sony’s online service is supposedly free. Although Xbox live is hardly expensive at $50 a year, free still sounds pretty damn attractive, and although we don’t quite know the details, their system seems to roughly mimic Xbox live, which is hardly a bad strategy, and looks a lot more sophisticated than the friend code system Nintendo is planning on porting over from the DS for the Wii.
8. It slices! It dices!: According to Sony, the PS3 isn’t just a gaming machine, it’s an entertainment hub that will replace all your big media devices-your stereo, your movie player, possibly even your home computer. And if this turns out to be the case, it’s suddenly a very appealing all-in-one device.
9. Microsoft & Nintendo have burned too many fans: Let’s face some hard facts here-Nintendo’s last two home consoles can’t be considered anything other than dismal failures as market share of the once dominant company shrank considerably. All but the most diehard may have completely given up on them. As for Microsoft, they completely abandoned the Xbox to focus on their new system pretty damn early. And it’s been a bumpy road for the 360 so far with long shortages, numerous reported hardware issues, half-assed backwards compatibility and a general lack of really strong AAA titles. This has not left a good taste in gamers’ mouths. Sony on the other hand, is still supporting the PS2 very well and reportedly plans to for at least a couple more years. They’ve also pledged full backwards compatibility. It remains to be seen if they can do what Microsoft has not been able to, but if they pull it off, that’s one more huge point in Sony’s favor.
10. The system seller: Granted, we don’t really know what the PS3 launch lineup is going to look like. But it’s been repeatedly proven that you need only one really standout title in order to move systems. Assuming it makes launch, I’m more than willing to bet Resistance: The Fall of Man will move a hell of a lot of PS3’s and it may not be the only game to do so.
To wrap up, despite the missteps Sony has had in the last few months, this round of the console war is still very up for grabs. History has a trend of repeating itself. But there are two pertinent histories to really consider here. The most recent being Sony’s, who has easily won the last two rounds, and despite all points otherwise, may be poised to do so again. But possibly more important is Nintendo’s history. The easily won the 8 & 16-bit wars, but the next round hit them so hard they may never fully recover. Could Sony be in for the same fate? Either way, should be a very interesting holiday season.
I'll be back on later today with movie previews and any news that breaks.