[Opinion] Playstation 3: A generation that nearly ended the brand

Fon

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Oct 5, 2009
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First announced back in, 2005; the Playstation 3 became the center of attention for a mass audience that catered up to 70% of the market. Sony had dominated with two successful game console generation sales, each moving over 100 million units worldwide! The dominance of both their first console, The Playstation garnered the support of third party publishers and with their aggressive marketing campaign, their name was spread far and wide within the gaming community.

After a successful run with their second console, Playstation 2 that supported video format; Sony took the next step in advanced gaming with the development of the Cell processor and their new video format: Blu-ray. This however led the company to some substantial financial costs as a standalone Blu-ray player ended up costing a hefty $1,000+


Playstation 3 first reveal at E3 2006

Concerns grew with the media and gamers alike as to the cost of the next popular console brand and likewise their fears came true. In 2006, Sony revealed the next generation of Playstation with a hefty $599.99 price point. To top it off it revealed a lineup of impressively jaw dropping games from Killzone 2 to Gundam: Crossfire. The aftermath however forced the company to lose a great deal of market share to both, Nintendo and Microsoft with the latter taking advantage of the poor business decisions the giant made.

What went wrong?
Part of the major 70% of consumers who bought Playstation products were casuals. A $599.99 price point for a game console is unthinkable so they migrated to the less expensive, more family friendly device: The Nintendo Wii. Even core gamers struggled to decide which console would sit next to their television. After all, Sony had some promising games in the works but after the disastrous launch that involved one death (A, Wal-mart employee trampled); theft and attempt of murder and games thatwere nothing more than cheap-underwhelming builds, things took a turn for the worse.

It was inevitable for the, Nintendo Wii to pull the casual audience in their favor. The Core only went with what was cheaper and had a decent library of games already available to play. The fact that, Microsoft had a year's in advance gave them the needed edge to outperform Sony's console. Promises were made by the corporation only to be broken later on. Game demo's revealed a promising coming of unique experiences but over and over, they delayed, put on hold or cancel game titles throughout the console's lifetime.


Last Guardian.. Where art thou?

A brand in jeopardy
The industry was becoming aware of the drastic changes happening in the next few years. Most shifted their focus to develop for the current successful console, Nintendo Wii (With negative results afterward) while major studios shifted their focus on the, Xbox 360. Once second party studios that supported Playstation, decided to go multi-platform. Microsoft's aggressive marketing campaign also swayed a number of Japanese developers in their favor to commit exclusive titles such as, Tales of Vesperia, Lost Odyssey and Star Ocean 4.

The brand was in jeopardy. Having a small library of exclusives in their arsenal with the competition offering more than twice the exclusive content and third party games promising slightly better quality and deals, it was a no-brainer for gamers to choose the cheapest priced console that offered a "Next-Gen" experience on the market.

A major comeback
Sony didn't give up (They've already invested billions into it). While the console was deemed a failure and a disaster by both the media and gamers around the world, the major console manufacturer continued to support their console. 2007 gave breath to a number of titles such as, Uncharted: Drakes Fortune, Heavenly Sword and Motorstorm: Pacific Rift. In 2008, the release of, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriot became a major event that moved almost two million units in it's first week of release and Sackboy became their mascot that made platformers appealing. Finally in 2009, Sony pulled a major strategy that gave them the boost they needed to go back on track: A $299.99 price point; Kevin Butler marketing campaign and the blockbuster title: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, which earned it Game of The Year.


Kevin Butler advertising console re-branding and price drop

From there the publisher pushed to make content more accessible with a rich focus on games. Two of their most talented studios: Naughty Dog and Sony Santa Monica only made the brand strong with stellar games from the Uncharted and God of War series that used tools such as, MLAA that the competition did not have at the time. Both titles: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and God of War III, became the darlings of the industry, racking up mass attention and positive feedback from both official reviewers and gamers alike.

Catering to the Casuals
Re-capturing the favor of the core audience was an important step in recovering from the major disaster they went through. Games were being released in a timely fashion and sales were good but with the success of the Wii, Sony wanted a piece of that market so they invented the, Playstation Move (Prototype first introduced back in, 2001). Accompanying the peripheral, 3D gaming was promoted as a way to change gaming but it didn't last long as it was deemed too expensive for the average gamer. Move still has potential but with the lack of content, it also became lost in the vast regions of dust collection.


[SUB]Sony's attempt to capture the casual audience [/SUB]

It might of shifted some units and gained some attention from the casuals but there wasn't much impact noted from those two focuses. Instead, their Playstation + subscription models that offer significant discounts; instant game collection of free games and exclusive content sounded more appealing for any gamer. The drawback to this is their DRM requirement for free games and their terms of service with having to continue paying the annual (Or 3 month) fee if you want to continue playing your free games.


Playstation Plus lineup of free games. For a $49.99 annual fee with these games available, major discounts and exclusive content such as first beta access to games, it's a great deal for newcomers and current Playstation gamers.

Closing words
It was all a cluster of bad decisions from implementing a new media medium (Blu-ray), to investing over a billion on a new - difficult to develop architecture, Cell; to getting ripped off by, Nvidia. Combined together cost them a huge market share and second party support. Let's not forget that each console sold at $499.99-$599.99 (20GB and 60GB SKU's), cost them money.

What probably saved them was the notion that it was the most powerful console on the market even though the Xbox 360 has been proven to match some Playstation 3 games (Which didn't happen until much later into this generation), Blu-ray since it became the only physical media available after it conquered HD DVD with the console being the cheapest Blu-ray around. They also have to hand it to their pool of talented developers and mastermind directors that pushed the boundaries of gaming. Their focus on targeting a variety of demographics and business models will only lead them to success (Minus their, Online Passes and Season passes which will destroy their games if not stopped!).

Even with the upcoming, Playstation 4 release, the Playstation 3 is showing that it still has a lot to offer with, The Last of Us, Beyond: Two Souls and Gran Turismo 6 just ahead of us. There is so much that it can offer to us now. Tales of Graces f, Ni No Kuni and Valkyria Chronicle are some of the exclusive diamonds that you should experience.


From left to right: Valkyria Chronicles, Tales of Graces f and Ni No Kuni

Playstation 3 is a console that is worth every penny (Currently, you can buy it from $199.99-$249.99[NA]). Be it that you'll criticize it's services and slow online features; heck you will even be annoyed by their inevitable and painfully long firmware updates and game installs! But I know that as a gamer, you will enjoy the games available. There is already so much to choose from.
 
Feb 15, 2009
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#2
Well it's not only that, yeah, bluray made the pricing and delay a total disaster for Sony. And over time it was a decision that saved Sony because of the fight to make bluray the standard HD format. But aside from that, Sony had broken promises right from their reveal of the ps3, from thigns like 2 hdmi outputs, and I forgot whether it was better ram or gpu. By the time it did release, the development group at Sony was lagging a heck lot behind its competitor, they were playing catch up, from games to online services. It's kind of like how android had to build its rep against apple, but now it's apple playing catch up with android...I don't think it would've ended the brand, because majority grew up with Sony and know that there are certain experiences that isn't avail elsewhere.
 

Fon

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Oct 5, 2009
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#3
[QUOTE="Hartia, post: 6098089]Well it's not only that, yeah, bluray made the pricing and delay a total disaster for Sony. And over time it was a decision that saved Sony because of the fight to make bluray the standard HD format. But aside from that, Sony had broken promises right from their reveal of the ps3, from thigns like 2 hdmi outputs, and I forgot whether it was better ram or gpu. By the time it did release, the development group at Sony was lagging a heck lot behind its competitor, they were playing catch up, from games to online services. It's kind of like how android had to build its rep against apple, but now it's apple playing catch up with android...I don't think it would've ended the brand, because majority grew up with Sony and know that there are certain experiences that isn't avail elsewhere.[/QUOTE]

At the time, after the release of the, Playstation 3. A great majority was bracing for Sony to kill the brand. They were taking losses annually because of it. Share holders could have stepped in and force the company to cease production of the platform to avoid further damage. While Blu-ray format did win the HD war, digital distribution was becoming more and more mainstream, which is something Microsoft had in play. Furthermore after a few years, more powerful and cheaper Blu-ray players were available to the consumers, no longer would they need a Playstation 3 to experience HD movies.

But this is just based on my own conjectures.
 

MjW

Forum Sage
Oct 30, 2006
7,873
65
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#4
You can say that again. The PS3's early days and the 360's success made Sony shit their pants and change direction altogether.

The PS3 early days also show us that there is more time than we think when direction needs a change. As PS3 fans we should know that better than anyone before we go about dismissing the XBOne.
 
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Feb 15, 2009
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#5
[QUOTE="MjW, post: 6098200]You can say that again. The PS3's early days and the 360's success made Sony shit their pants and change direction altogether.

The PS3 early days also show us that there is more time than we think when direction needs a change. As PS3 fans we should know that better than anyone before we go about dismissing the XBOne.[/QUOTE]


Yeah as much as I laughed at the Xbox1 reveal. When you think about, it's wasn't a dumb reveal by any means. It was like....okay PS4 can do games, everyone already knows what games look like now for next gen. Here's what we do in addition to games. Kind of like what I wrote in my article....
 

Sir_Scud

Super Elite
Dec 30, 2007
2,185
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#6
[QUOTE="MjW, post: 6098200]You can say that again. The PS3's early days and the 360's success made Sony shit their pants and change direction altogether.

The PS3 early days also show us that there is more time than we think when direction needs a change. As PS3 fans we should know that better than anyone before we go about dismissing the XBOne.[/QUOTE]

Well said MjW. I totally agree. And good work Fon. If I may say this is your best piece yet. I think the approach to this article, definitely something a little different. I added it earlier, but didn't have the chance to read it fully. Always like some pictures too. But I am not a judge, so my opinion has no sway in the matter :)
 

Fon

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Oct 5, 2009
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#7
[QUOTE="Sir_Scud, post: 6098608]Well said MjW. I totally agree. And good work Fon. If I may say this is your best piece yet. I think the approach to this article, definitely something a little different. I added it earlier, but didn't have the chance to read it fully. Always like some pictures too. But I am not a judge, so my opinion has no sway in the matter :)[/QUOTE]Thanks. It was a piece dedicated to an entire generation so I had to go all out on this. I'm planning on writing one regarding the, Mass Effect trilogy next.