The PlayStation 3's production run is coming to an end. Sony is pulling the plug on the console after more than 10 years on the market. The console did the company well during the latter half of its lifespan but it's time to call it a game and put the PS3 down.
They note that this is the final PlayStation 3 unit in production in Japan and it's the 500GB unit that launched before Sony introduced the PlayStation 4 unit. The system originally came onto the scene back in November of 2006. The original system launched at $499 with only 20GB. It's a crazy thing to consider that the system only had 20GB. But 11 years ago 20GB was a decent chunk of space for games that didn't necessarily need 15Gb on average to install.
Most games back then were pretty small, clocking in at just under 10GB. In fact, the AAA title Gears of War for the Xbox 360 was just barely 11GB but could load and run off the disc, so it wasn't necessary to install it on the hard drive. So the 20GB PS3 definitely seemed like an okay purchase, but at $499 it was a tough pill for a lot of people to swallow. The 60GB PS3 was even more expensive at $599.
The super high price of the PS3 really hurt Sony because they were selling at a loss and facing down some awful PR due to their strategy, stiff line-up of games, and a growing stigma of having a system that was difficult to design games for.
They eventually had the ICE team work on improving multithreaded support for the SPUs in the PS3 that worked with the Cell processor, and thanks to high-quality outings from their first-party studios with game series like God of War, Uncharted and Gran Turismo, they were able to turn things around during the twilight of seventh gen gaming.
Of course, all of the investment that Sony poured into the PS3 wasn't compensated for easily, and they had to monetize any and everywhere they could. They also removed the Emotion chip from units to help cut down on the price, which hampered PS2 emulation support, thus hindering backwards compatibility, and then focused on trying to really hammer out a solid line-up of exclusive games after losing a lot of third-party support or playing second-fiddle to the Xbox 360 and its vastly superior line-up of top-performing titles.
Sony spent more than half of seventh gen trying to optimize the PS3 so it was more inviting for developers, something that never really happened, which resulted in the console usually having poorer performing third-party outings that suffered from either graphical setbacks or major performance hiccups. On the first and second party front, they at least were able to showcase just how powerful the Cell processor was, and won multiple GOTY awards thanks to unbeatable exclusives like Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3 and the PS3's swan song, The Last of Us.
Sony did a complete 180 with the PS4, using more standardized x86 design architecture and going for selling the console for a profit instead of at a loss. The decision paid off huge, and now that they've learned their lesson from the PS3 they managed to secure the number one spot as the front-runner of eighth gen. The PS3 is at least able to retire knowing that it finished out the last years of its run in an honorable enough fashion.