When a system costs more to manufacture than what it sells for and Sony is ending up several hundred dollars knee-deep in debt per-a-pair-of-consoles-sold, and the console happens to be selling less than any currently produced console (including the PS2) nearly every month on end, something is wrong. This is why everyone is wondering how long this trend will last, and how will the PS3 dominate the industry if it can't get out of this slump.
In the previous article about a similar subject, a lot of commotion was raised over the statement of the Xbox 360 carrying the PS3, when it comes to third-party software. Well, had the 360 not been around who knows how long gamers would have been waiting for third-party titles to be released. The one fact a lot of people tend to miss out on is that it is, without a shadow of a doubt, easier to program and design a game for the Xbox 360. Not only are the design tools easier (i.e., if you can program a simple PC game, you can program a simple Xbox 360 game,) they are also cheap enough to allow designers to drop brand new games under the $40 and $50 price point. Games such as Silpheed and the recently released Crash Bandicoot: Mind Over Mutant hit retail shelves without the market-high $60 a pop price tag. And while the games may not be that good (or they might be downright terrible, like Vampire Rain), they still afford developers a cheap alternative for making games on a “next-gen” console. Something we have yet to see on the PS3, outside of their PSN titles.
The other problem is accessibility. In order for the PS3 to dominate within the time frame that some analysts’ have predicted, as the story suggests on DMWMedia or as it was pointed out in People’s Daily Online (among many others). The PS3 would need a software library that can be built on accessibility. This is something else the PS3 lacks, something that was discussed in another article here on Blend Games. The development struggles with the multi-threaded structure have yet to cease, and some developers have outsourced to other third-party engineers to help with the problem. So you end up having third-party developers, hiring third-party developers.
Now this is not to be misconstrued as a fact for all developers who are designing games for the PS3. As some of them are more familiar with the architecture than others, and some of them can better utilize certain functions more efficiently than other developers. However, this does not alleviate the problem of having games of equal complexity as those found on the Xbox 360, but developed within the same time-frame. PS3 hardware takes longer to learn and longer to flesh out, which certainly does work against it when measuring up the sales. A year difference between releases can certainly sway a good number of gamers who might specifically buy the system for a specific game. And delays for games such as Brothers In Arms, The Last Remnant and Alone In The Dark will continue to work against the PS3 on the software availability spectrum, as well as accessibility when it comes to developing games.
All of the fore-mentioned, in turn, can work against shifting units for the PS3. And as the numbers have shown over the past few months, shifting units should be a very important thing for Sony. Whether you want to argue price point, game selection, or consumer interest, Sony would probably prefer that the PS3 aims to outsell its PS2 at some point in monthly sales, during this console race. And with the looming gloom of forecasts showing Japan and Europe consumers giving almost double the console sales to the Xbox 360 for the month of September, it’s no longer about the PS3 dominating in 2010, but just staying in the market by 2010.
Nevertheless, all is not down and dolor for the PlayStation brand. Hope does linger in the camp of Sony and it resides in the one place they have yet to look: the PlayStation 3. Yes, Sony’s golden ticket to success is already their golden ticket. The real question is why they haven’t used it yet? I can’t answer that for you. But what they can do is redirect the PlayStation 3 from simply being a console game machine that – from the standard point of view of a casual consumer – looks awfully similar to the Xbox 360, when it comes to gaming, to an actual play-station. The PS3 is still the cheapest Blu-Ray player on the market for all of what you get; and Blu-Ray is the new standard format next to the original DVD.
Everyone who wants HD movie playback will have to get a Blu-Ray player, eventually. So why has Sony not used the PS3 to leverage sales from the consumer electronics market? It would definitely help build back up their brand supremacy. And at present, the PS3 is simply going to continue to lose sales to the Xbox 360 if the price-points stay as diverse as they are. Sony should instead focus the PlayStation 3's multiple functionality as a electronic device to consumers looking for that kind of diversity: promotions should be used to further elaborate the Linux compatibility; marketing tactics should be put in place to sell the PS3 as the best Blu-Ray player on the market (even if it’s not); and Sony should really point out that PSN is free.
I’m not sure how long Sony will continue to let the PS3 slide into the backseat of this console race, but it sure as heck isn’t doing them any favors, especially if they're to meet the analyst prediction of dominating in 2010. However, by reversing their marketing tactics and focusing on potential Blu-Ray player consumers, gamers looking for free network gaming, and casual gamers looking for a casual experience with Home, LBP, etc., they might meet the 2010 deadline. It seems to be the one tactic Sony has yet to use, and I’m curious how long they’re going to wait before making their move.
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