Devil’s Advocate – LOL Sony and Why It’s Justified

April 4, 2007

Before we begin, I’d like to make two things clear. First, I want to see the PlayStation 3 succeed. Diversity and competition are good in any market. I don’t own a PS3 yet, but I have access to one. Second, LOL SONY! Giant enemy crabs! 599 US DOLLARS! There, that feels better, and it’s the last time you’ll see unfounded jabs here. With those things out of the way, here’s what I think Sony did wrong and why I think you should care.

Phil HarrisonPublic Backpedaling
At the 2005 European Game Developers Conference, Phil Harrison said that it was unlikely that Sony would mimic Microsoft’s two SKU strategy for the PlayStation 3 release. He then went on to say that multiple versions of the console would only serve to confuse both customers and retailers. That’s great, and personally, I agree with the statement. Microsoft made a mistake by offering a 360 without a HDD as it means that developers can’t take advantage of it without also coding for the users that don’t have it.

The man’s entitled to his opinion, but why publicly denounce the two SKU strategy and then use it yourself two years later? It makes you look foolish. You can only mislead the public so many times before they become wary of anything that comes out of your mouth.

Throwing a fit when people quote you on the subject doesn’t net you any points either. You said it, Phil. Own it and move on. Apologize for lying to us if you’d like, but don’t berate gaming journalists for publishing the quotes of a Sony employee at an industry event. That’s why we’re there: to figure out what’s going on and inform the public.

Price Point
The PlayStation 3 is expensive. Very expensive. That one piece of home electronics equipment costs more than many people pay in rent every month. And it doesn’t come with a game. To get up and running, you’re looking at a minimum investment of $560.00 plus tax.

Why is it so expensive? The Blu-Ray player. If I wanted a movie player, I’d buy a movie player. I want a game player. A games machine is not the right place to push your new movie format – especially when including it is a contributing factor to driving the PS3’s price up to $200.00 more per SKU than the Xbox 360.

People have psychological monetary limits after which they do some serious thinking about a purchase. For small items, that limit is usually around $50.00. That’s enough that most of us can walk into a Best Buy store and walk out with a game without feeling guilty (because honestly, who thinks about tax until they’re at the register?). Similarly, for larger items, $500.00 is a common limit. Both the Wii and the Xbox 360 – each purchased with an additional game – fall under this barrier. The PS3, depending on which version is purchased, exceeds the limit by $60.00 or $160.00.

The only other console to break the $500.00 barrier in recent memory in the Neo-Geo AES, and we all know how that turned out.

Full HD Gaming
That must mean 1080p, right? I would expect at least 1080i (which is, coincidentally, the maximum resolution that my television and most others I’m familiar with can output). Why then is the PS3 shipped with a set of composite cables? Composite cables are easily the worst way to convey a video signal to an HDTV. I can understand not throwing an HDMI cable in the box as that standard isn’t supported by some older sets, but where are the component cables? Hell, as long as you’re going to throw antiquated A/V technology in the box, where is the S-Video cable? Anything would have been better than composite cables and the choice to ship them with every PS3 is an insult to the very people the PS3 appeals to: the audiovisual enthusiast and the gamer that genuinely cares about graphical quality.

Don’t underestimate your customers; we’re smarter than you seem to think we are.

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