In Defense of the PlayStation 3


posted 7/12/2006 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
One Page Platforms: PS3

After Sony's press conference last month there was a lot of bitching and moaning across the great World Wide Web.  People far and wide bemoaned the high price of the system, the new controller, the dual PS3 configurations and the lack of quality games that Sony showed off.  I might have even kvetched a little bit of it myself but after a few weeks of sitting back and looking at the situation it's really not as bad as the internets have made it out to be.

As GamingNexus' resident Microsoft apologist/fanboy it is a bit odd for me to write an article defending Sony.  If anything you would expect someone like me to pile on, heaping scoopful after scoopful of fanboy diatribe and scorn on Sony.   But that would be the easy way out, that would be the path of least resistance, that's what IGN would do.  Instead of writing yet another "PS3 g0t pwn3d by Nintendo and Micro$oft" article I decided to try and see the world from Sony's perspective.

This article has taken a while to write as various Sony executives have made some entertaining and down right baffling statements that has made writing this article exceedingly difficult.  While a lot of these can be chalked up to the usual bluster and chest puffing that precede a major console launch, some of the statements have been downright mystifying and bizarre.  Saying that the PS3 is going to be as powerful as a PC is one thing but saying that it is going to replace one is thinking just a little too far outside the box.  Never-the-less I’ve pushed on with this article. Saying that you’re considering that you will customize the devices to consumer specifications is also a bit baffling as you tend to lose the main advantage that consoles have over the PC gaming market.

The biggest issue is the price of the units.  Let's be honest, $599 or $499 is a lot of scratch to put down for a gaming console.  If you are earning minimum wage you'll need to work over 110 hours to come up with the coin to purchase the top end configuration.  If you are an overpaid technology consultant you're looking at a little over 17 hours to earn the money for the console but the point is still valid.  You are going to have to save up and pinch pennies if you want to have one of this sitting next to your TV in November (assuming that you can find one).

While the price is certainly high, the main problem with is that of expectations management.  I'm not sure why the expectations for a cheaper console came from as Sony has been saying since last year that the thing was not going to be cheap.  Of course that didn't stop all the analysts, bloggers, and mainstream gaming sites from saying that the unit would be price competitive with the Xbox 360 (which it is to a degree)...blithely ignoring the proclamations from Sony they started setting a new set of expectations and unfortunately for Sony that's what stuck.

Why is the unit so expensive?  Because there a lot of brand new cutting edge technology in the device and we all know that bleeding edge technology does not come cheaply.  The PlayStation 3 is more than just playing the next Grand Theft Auto game or the next Ratchet and Clank game.  It is about creating an entertainment hub in your living room. It is about doing more than saving the planet from pixilated pirates and aliens. It is about a complete home entertainment system that covers everything from games to movies to your family photos.

Another thing to factor into the price of the equation is that how long that PS3 is going to be sitting next to your TV.  Unlike Microsoft, Sony does not completely write off development/production of a console after the next version comes out.  The fact that Sony has just recently stopped production of the PSOne gives you some idea of how long Sony keeps cranking out their platforms.  If you factor this in with the financial concept of amortization you can easily justify the cost by spreading the cost of the device out over it's lifetime.  So $600 over the six year lifetime of the device and that's only $100 or so a year.  Divide that by the number of hours you play it a year and the cost isn't really that high.  If you factor in the time spent watching Blu-ray movies, photos, or what else you'll do on your PS3 you are further spreading out the cost of the system.  Is it a bit of a stretch? Well yeah but for gamers rationalization is a tricky thing.

The price (and likely initial console shortages) will limit the adoption initially but as the PS3 gets bigger and once the console gets its Elder Scrolls: Oblivion or Ghost Recon Advance Warfighter, gamers will be clamoring to get their hands on the system no matter what the cost is.  Plus by announcing the price of the system five months in advance it will give gamers enough time to stock away the cash they'll need to purchase the system.


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