Editorial: Sony Didn't Intend PS3 To Succeed As A Console

By William Usher 2008-12-13 15:50:12 discussion comments
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Everyone was probably glad to know that the PS3 managed to sell more than a 150k during November. And while many Sony fans would see the glass half full, analysts and skeptics would see the glass half-empty, considering that the PS3 and PS2 combined didn't come close to the Xbox 360 or Nintendo Wii's numbers. However, selling a console during this generation wasn't Sony's priority for the PS3 to begin with. Good numbers or not, Sony already accomplished what they wanted from their third-generation console.

It all started back in E3 2005 with an article on IGN comparing Sony's and Microsoft's console specs. A lot of people are going to say "But the specs have changed since then." However, it's not the specs that gave away the PS3's general purpose, it was the intention of the specs. The one comment that stands out above them all in the article is the one that pinpoints what the PS3 has displayed in realtime gameplay (at present) and for what Sony was really using the PS3 for, as the comments states: "Sony's CPU is ideal for an environment where 12.5% of the work is general-purpose computing and 87.5% of the work is DSP calculations. That sort of mix makes sense for video playback or networked waveform analysis, but not for games."

That comment has stuck with me for the past three years, and with good reason. Now I'm sure techies will break down the PS3 specs to justify it as a more suitable gaming platform than the Xbox 360, but the fact of the matter remains: Developers needed multithreaded middleware just to keep the framerate stable when developing high-end games on the PS3. However, there was nothing needed for optimized video playback for high-definition optical media, specifically, Blu-ray media.

It all comes full-circle, and the facts are these: Even if the PS3 is Sony's last console Sony still wins. Whether the PS3 turns a profit or tanks, Sony still wins. For those of who you don't know what I'm talking about, simply understand that Sony, as an electronic giant, simply needs to survive the economic ebb to reap the benefits of what the PlayStation 3 established for the company. That establishment happens to be the Blu-ray format. The company didn't intend for the PS3 to succeed as the next big console, so much as they intended it to push their new format through the door, successfully. And it did.

Unless another form of high-def optical media emerges within the next two years, Sony will control the high-definition era of optical media for visual entertainment. Anyone who wants to see high-def movies, guess what format you're going to have to go with? Anyone who wants to burn high-def media, guess what format has to be used? If Microsoft wants the Xbox 360 to play anything other than DVD9 material, guess what format they're going to have to use? Sony didn't need the PS3 to just win over gamers, they just needed a vessel to carry over a new format that they would own. Something that Sony's BetaMax and their UMD failed to do in the past.

While Nintendo may control the console gaming market, and Microsoft has a stranglehold on the hardcore gaming arena, Sony will own all with Blu-ray. Even Microsoft and Nintendo will have to bow to Sony if they plan to use the formats for their current or future consoles. The only thing gamers can hope for is that Sony doesn't abandon the PS3 too soon (since they have no need for it anymore), or otherwise the entire gaming community will be stuck with Wii shovelware and Halo spin-offs for the rest of this gaming generation.
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