Pride Goeth Before Sony’s PS3 Fall

20 08 2009

There’s all kinds of stupid in the world, but there’s a special place in my heart for the kind that comes out when stupidity mixes with hubris. Case in point: Sony’s genius decision to not allow backwards compatibility on the PS3 Slim. Seriously, what’s the thought process that’s going on here? “Well we’ve got a really expensive console here with a slim software library that getting it’s ass kicked by the Wii, the 360 and our own PS2. Why don’t we put out a cheaper version of the PS3 that doesn’t bother to leverage our single-greatest asset, the PS2’s back catalog? That’s the way back to market dominance!”

It seems to me that Sony’s biggest problem is that it took a couple of stupid competetive decisions and fortuitous timing in the last console generations as an indication that Sony was filled with infallible geniuses and would be the dominant gaming platform forever. The original PlayStation leveraged the favorable economics of the then new format of CD-ROM into a gaming powerhouse. They faced off against the Nintendo 64 which was dealing with the massive cost-of-goods mistake that was sticking with the cartridge format and Sega’s 32X decision not to cut the Genesis off at the knees. The PS2, on the other hand, was a great piece of hardware, but it was also launched at precisely the right time into a gaming drought, becoming the defacto platform of choice against a weakened Sega and a Nintendo who, as always, operate in their own little pocket dimension.

PlayStation-3-Slim-Not-Backwards-Compatible-With-PlayStation-2-Games

Things have changed. It’s now Microsoft’s 360 that holds the dominance amongst the hard-core and Nintendo who is blazing a new trail amongst casual gamers. That leaves Sony with a firm grip on exactly one asset — the past. Specifically the absolutely enormous PS2 back catalog. Perversely, that’s actually not a bad place to be. The PS2 is a pure profit engine at this point and the fact that new games continue to come out for it every month means the the PS2 is hardly a dead platform. A PS3 with backwards compatility provides a clear upgrade path for people who don’t want to lose the investment in their PS2 games and create an instant (and cheap) gaming library for people who want to take the plunge at the lower price point.

Heck, if it were me, I’d take a few lessons from Microsoft’s Arcade at this point and start investing in re-issuing some of the classic PS2 titles revamped with new downloadable content and whatever the Home equivalent of Achievements are. What exactly is the rationale for not leveraging the huge marketshare that the PS2 continues to command? We’re in a worldwide recession and the huge PS2 library looks like an awfully good bargain these days. If I can get that plus new PS3 games plus a Blu-Ray player, suddenly the PS3 looks a lot more competetive against a 360.

As it stands now, I have a 360, a Wii and a PS2 and a PC and all my gaming needs are met for the forseeable future. There simply aren’t enough compelling reasons to buy a PS3 when I can get a cheap Blu-Ray for about $100 less than a PS3. No, the PS2 catalog isn’t the way forward, but it’d be enough to make the PS3 viable until they figure out what to do. This decision basically throws away one of the few weapons Sony still has. Like I said — hubris. Sony’s not the king of the world anymore. It’s time they started acting like it.

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One response

14 06 2010
Francesco Nwagbara

This was a Excellent write up, I will bookmark this post in my Del.icio.us account. Have a great day.

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