Fall 2011 is finally upon us, and there really has been no better time to be a PlayStation 3 owner. In the run up to Christmas, Sony’s flagship console is to play host to a number of high profile games, including adventurer Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception and the eagerly-awaited Assassin's Creed: Revelations. Since launch, PS3 has sold over 51.8 million units globally, has amassed over 50 million PlayStation Network user accounts, and sold over eight million PlayStation Move units. Indeed, it is obvious from these figures that Sony’s black box is enjoying incredible success as the platform rapidly approaches its fifth anniversary this November. However, the road was not always this smooth, and in the beginning started off very rocky to say the least . . .
PlayStation 3 launched in the U.S. and Japan in November 2006. There were two versions of the console at launch – a 20 GB SKU and a 60 GB unit. The 20 GB version launched at around the price of $500 and the 60 GB $600; both were backward compatible, meaning they were able to play PlayStation 1 and PlayStation 2 discs.
Needless to say, the launch of the PlayStation 3 was met with mixed reactions, mostly due to the price. A lot of consumers were not willing to pay over $500 for a gaming device, Blu-ray compatible or not. At the time, the two competing consoles, the Nintendo Wii and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 were also on shelves and those two systems were chosen over the PS3 by a significant chunk of gamers. After all, consumers were intrigued by the then-innovative qualities afforded by the Wii and felt secure about the Xbox 360’s established gaming library so it only made sense. Why choose a $500 console over a $250 Wii and a $400 Xbox 360?
Resistance: Fall of Man was arguably the PS3’s best launch title and the software of that period in the system’s lifecycle. By this point, games such as Metal Gear Solid 4 and Tekken 6 were confirmed as in the works, though were still a long way off. As such, the PS3’s lack of good, quality games at and near launch probably contributed to the negative perception of the console at the beginning.
The year 2007 was a turbulent period for the PS3. Although games such as Ninja Theory’s Heavenly Sword arrived that year, many third party games thought to be PS3 exclusives were confirmed as multiplatform titles, including Capcom’s Devil May Cry 4. Conversely, titles like the former Xbox 360-only actioner Ninja Gaiden made the jump to PS3 later that year. Nonetheless, the loss of PS3-exclusives dealt a bit of a blow to potential adopters. Why pay $500-$600 when one could get the same titles and games such as Blue Dragon on the $400 Xbox 360?
2007 was also the year the PS3 launched in Europe and other PAL areas. Similar to North America’s launch, the console was met with a lot of criticism due to its high price. Despite the price tag however, the PS3 got off to a solid start in the U.K., selling over half a million units within two days, though by the next week sales in hardware and software dropped tremendously. Despite the rocky Europe and PAL launch, future years would see the PS3 excel in those countries.
One positive thing to come out of 2007 was Blu-ray. Sony’s high definition player was a great success and went on to win the war against Toshiba’s competing HD-DVD players. Also, as Blu-ray was also the format for PS3 software, it allowed developers to cram more into their games, giving PS3 titles greater potential. Despite this, the platform still lacked some killer, triple-A exclusives. Some gamers and analyst argued this was due to the developer kits for the PS3, suggesting game makers were having a difficult time programming for Sony’s black behemoth.
Due to of the lack of high-end exclusives combined with the system’s price tag, many owners of the PS2 in the previous generation of consoles jumped ship. A fair chunk went out and bought an Xbox 360 and some of them began to openly bash Sony and the PS3. In North America, the Xbox 360 became the primary high definition console and the main platform for major titles such as Madden and other sports games. Things were looking pretty rough for Sony and its new machine, however, the next year the console make stepped up its game considerably…
The PS3 finally began to receive positive feedback in the year 2008, beginning with a successful press conference at E3. Sony’s presser featured upcoming heavyweights such as Gran Turismo 5 and Metal Gear Solid 4, offering a fine showcase for PS3’s meaty graphical capabilities. MGS4 finally released in June 2008, giving the platform the triple-A exclusive that it had been craving since launch. Another intriguing title, LittleBigPlanet, hit stores in November and also helped alter the public perception of Sony’s flagship console with its cute demeanour and unique gameplay based on user-created content. Also that year, Capcom’s sci-fi blaster Lost Planet, formally believed to be a 360 exclusive, arrived on PS3. Unfortunately for Sony however, a major blow came when Square Enix announced during Microsoft's E3 presser that Final Fantasy XIII, formally a PS3-exclusive, would also be coming to Xbox 360.
One of the most crucial developments in 2008 came in the form of a price drop; one could now buy a 40 GB PS3 for the reduced cost of $400. Although the price was still a little high, Sony did record a significant rise in hardware sales. The same year also saw the revival of the DualShock controller brand. The Dualshock 3 controller not only boasted SixSxis functionality, but contained the rumble feedback feature of its PS2 predecessor. Finally, Sony also took the wraps off its ambitious social networking app PlayStation Home, with an open beta kicking off in November.
Stay tuned to PSU.com for part two, where we scrutinize PS3's performance throughout 2009 and 2010, as well as taking a look at how the machine has fared so far this year.
Article by Shawnee Lee