Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Regrets and the PS3

The PS3 not finding itself in so dominant a position in this round of the console wars is interesting to me. Was it because it cost too much? Because Microsoft's marketing was better? Because development was too expensive or complicated? Regardless, there are smaller, interesting targets that I think would have helped, from my biased perspective:

God of War 2 released on the PS3, not the PS2. If the same game that came out for the PS2 were instead released for the PS3 with whatever visual bang they could muster, it would have been a killer app. This might even be true with PS2-quality graphics. It may not have made development sense -- at the time I thought, Sony said they want the PS2 to last awhile, and GOW (I think) sold less than they projected, so maybe this is just a safer dev-cost bet that accomplishes this goal -- but the press around GOW2 was insane, and I don't think the PS3 found a release of that magnitude. If it had, I think the future of the PS3 might look much different now.

Little Big Planet replaced Home. Presumably after the success of Mii's, Microsoft and Sony wanted summadat, spawning Avatars and Home, the former of which seemed strong if derivative, while the latter was different for different's sake (and no other clear reason). About the same Sony decided to aim straight for the Uncanny Valley with Home, LBP was released, and I was flabbergasted by the wasted potential. If all the energy spent on Home were instead spent giving everyone, regardless of LBP ownership a Sackboy to customize and pose and share, and buying LBP still offered the games and editing tools to play with him, as well as more costume options, I think it would have been wildly more successful. Not so much a game-changer as having a killer app would be, but still a much stronger step forward. In fact, I still think Sony should do it: announce the explosion of Home, and make Sackboys a core part of the PS3 experience.


  1. Backwards compatibility. There are quite a few PS2 games I still want to play. I was really looking forward to being able to play them upscaled to HD until they yanked that feature. Since then the incentive to get one for me has just never been there, despite the fact that by now there are a couple PS3-exclusives I would like to play. My PS2 is first-generation, from only at most a few months after it was launched. I will replace it with a new PS2 before too long; if the PS3 still had backwards compatibility I would replace it with that instead, but alas.

    Blu-Ray. Having fewer discs for big games is cool enough, but the PS3 has always been too expensive because of it. And with streaming movies and the not-big-enough improvement in quality over DVDs I don't really want Blu-Ray.

    I think the cost and difficulty of development is a factor also. PS3 games for the most part do not seem significantly better than 360 games graphically or otherwise, even if the hardware is technically a little bit superior, because unlocking that potential is so difficult. I think the best region for the PS3 is Europe, incidentally, but I attribute a lot of that to anti-Microsoft sentiment there.

  2. If you are only asking why it didn't dominate the 360 (ignoring the wii). I would say it pretty much came down to launching a year later. And then when it did release, it was at a higher price point and feature/power wise was on par with the 360 (bluray was interesting for movie buffs, but didn't offer much for gaming). Maybe killer software could have helped, but I doubt it would have had much of an impact (at least not taking it to ps2 levels).

  3. Awesome comments.

    @elias I find it interesting how often I forget about backwards compatibility problems because I got one of the earlier models of the PS3.

    I don't have a strong opinion about Blu-Ray but anything that affects price (how much did the PS2 chip affect it) hurt the PS3, in my opinion.

    @John mostly I wanted to throw out "interesting" targets that might have made a difference. I don't believe GOW2 on PS3 (and especially sackboys) are silver bullets. That said, I do believe killer apps were a BIG problem for the PS3, perhaps second only to price. Feature/power didn't stop the Wii at all.