UBS analyst Ben Schachter believes that negative press surrounding the PlayStation 3 version of Madden 08 (as seen in publication USA Today) may have a substantial impact on how Sony’s latest console is perceived by mainstream audiences.
"The blogosphere is full of posts highlighting the relatively weaker performance of ERTS’s Madden NFL 08 game (released 8/14) on the PS3 vs. the Xbox 360", he said. "Such detailed discussions of slow frame rates and performance are not typically considered important by Wall Street. But given Madden’s popularity and the volume of this debate, we think this is a more meaningful negative for Sony than investors might realize, as it gives gamers just one more reason not to buy a PS3 this year following the slip of GTA IV. It is a positive for MSFT”.
Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter demurs this, however, observing that developer Electronic Arts, like many others, are still getting to grips with PS3’s hardware, compared to the Xbox 360’s which has been available for a longer period of time.
"Analysts are too quick to criticize," offered Pachter. "There are obviously PS3 games that look fantastic. It’s not an issue with the PS3, notwithstanding what EA said. It’s an issue with how they built Madden for the PS3. Remember, EA doesn’t have much experience on the PS3. From what I can tell, the frame rates for NCAA Football and Take-Two’s All-Pro Football were equally slow, and nobody complained about them. Eventually, EA will figure it out, and nobody will care.”
"In the meantime, analysts who are quick to criticize will run around like chicken little claiming that the sky is falling, and journalists who are quick to criticize will print their opinions without checking with me first," he added.
Concluding, Pachter suggested that fellow analysts might consider pointing their attention to the recent warranty issues plaguing the Xbox 360, adding, "The PS3 is a fantastic console, and anyone who has one knows it’s awesome. The Xbox 360 is also fantastic, but has no Blu-ray playback, and has been plagued with warranty issues. One would think that stupid analysts would be writing about the 360-warranty issue, and how people will avoid that box until they can be assured that they won’t see the ‘three red rings of death.’ I love my PS3 (and love my 360), and can’t wait to watch 300 in 1080p."
Once more, we at PSU can only concur with Pachter words. Developers need sufficient time to acquaint themselves with new hardware, and the PlayStation 3 is certainly no exception. Nonetheless, we can only hope that the mainstream audience does not use the recent Madden issue to be dissuaded from investing in Sony’s next-gen offering.