In Defense of the PlayStation 3


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

Of course one of the primary reasons why the system costs so much is the inclusion of Sony’s new high definition Blu-ray technology.  While most seem to view this as the latest in the line of proprietary formats this one is a bit different as Sony actually has the support of most of the major motion picture studios this time.  This means that when all of the good movies start hitting shelves you’ll be able to watch them on your $600 PS3 instead of watching them on your $1000 Blu-ray DVD player.  The extra capacity on the discs should also provide developers with the ability to place even higher quality textures and movies on the discs.  This means that we’ll get better quality graphics without have to swap discs in and out. 

A lot of people consider the new wireless controller to be a blatant ripoff of the new controller for the Wii.  These are probably the same people that think Apple came up with the Graphical User Interface and the mouse (guess what they didn't).  I'm not saying that that the Wii isn't innovative, new or cool but rather that the technology has been around in one form or another for years and that they've done a good job of taking existing tech and re-packaging it in a more consumer friendly way.  Sure we’ve seen the technology before and maybe Sony is just dusting it off for another run. 

What’s different and possibly better about the PS3 solution is that you get the benefit of the new control scheme but also compatibility with the last two generations of Playstation games. The control scheme is exactly the same and you don’t have to worry about extra controller sleeves or extra controllers when you want to play older games.  Your games are going to play exactly the same and you aren’t going to have to learn a new controller scheme just to play an older game.

Another benefit of Sony’s controller direction is that you will be able to turn it off and play without it.  Nintendo’s “Wiimote” while slick is also limiting in that the game is going to have to support it and not every developer is going to want to sink money into something that may just be a niche controller.  It also means less strain on your arms and muscles.  Sure it’s cool to be able to play video game tennis by making a swinging motion but are most gamers going to be up for playing something like that for more than an hour or two at a time?  Are most gamers going to have the stamina or desire to play a virtual nine holes of golf after a long week at the office?  I would gander that Nintendo fan boys will be easy to spot at E3 next year as they are going to have one very well developed arm and one skinny arm.

It’s also been noticed that Sony’s controller will lack force feedback and while it sucks, it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise given the new motion technology and Sony’s inability to come to an agreement with Immersion Solutions.  That said it’s a shame that the two companies couldn’t come to some agreement as it does hurt both companies and gamers in the long run.

Another item of concern is Sony’s decision to release two different configurations of the PS3.  A premium configuration as well as a lower end configuration with a smaller hard drive, no built in memory card slots, HDMI port, or wireless networking. This decision was probably made when Microsoft their dual SKU strategy and the logic for it is the same.  The dual SKU’s provide consumes with choice and with the exception of the HDMI port, consumers who purchase the lower end system will be able to purchase add-ons that will allow them to have the same functionality as the higher ends system.  The HDMI port of course is the real rub here as the HDMI port is supposed to handle part of the copyright solution for Blu-ray movies.  However Sony has guaranteed that those who purchase the lower end configuration will be able to play Blu-ray movies.  I still don’t think that a dual SKU system is a good thing as it confuses the non hardcore consumer but like I said earlier once MS did it you had to bet that Sony would.

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