The GTA IV delay - Does it really hurt Sony that much?

by: Chuck -
More On: Grand Theft Auto 4
Dan and I had a fun chat last night about what impact the delay of GTA IV would have on Sony and Microsoft.  Dan thinks it's a catastrophic loss for Sony and that it really hurts their chances gain any ground this holiday season.  Personally I think the 360 is probably hurt more by this as Microsoft ponied up big bucks to get the exclusive add-on episodes to convert PS2 GTA fans to the 360.

There's no doubt that GTA IV will be a loss for Sony but the moment it went multi-platform at launch is the minute it became a non-killer app for Sony.  Sure the game sold like hotcakes on the original PS2 but how much of that was due to large existing installed base of the PS2 and the title only appearing on the platform?  If people had a choice at launch would they have stuck with the PS2 version?  One could almost argue that the "ginormous" install base of the PS2 helped created the GTA phenomenon (I'm not trying to take anything away from the quality of the game or the job that Rockstar did).

Would GTAIV really have sold that much more Sony hardware?  I'm not so sure.  If you're a fan of the game would you really want to spend $100 more to play the game on the PS3?  You know you're not getting the extra content that the 360 is getting so why plunk down the extra money for a lesser product? Sure there's some hardware loyalty there but fans of the game are going to want to get the full experience which is something that Microsoft locked up last year. 

Sure there's still some potential for Rockstar to come up with some DLC for the PS3 version but more than likely they are going to start working on their unnamed exclusive PS3 title.  People seem to forget that Sony let Rockstar out of their exclusive Sony deal for another game and maybe Sony knows something we don't. 

Having GTA IV pushed to next year means that the GTA fan base doesn't have to make that decision right now and it creates more time for Sony to build their case for the PS3.  The GTA crowd is not the same as the Halo 3 crowd or the Mass Effect crowd so while those games are going to sell systems, they are not going to tap in to the "GTA Army" that might have made the switch if the game was otu this year. 

The games that will convince PS2 fans to upgrade are going to be Final Fantasy XIII and Metal Gear Solid 4.  If you factor in Killzone 2 and the inevitable God of War 3 you've got four huge franchises that will all sell a ton of hardware.  You've also got Drake and inFamous which could be big hits for Sony.  What does Microsoft have coming out next year?  Alan Wake and what?  Maybe we'll get some direction at Leipzig but right now the cupboard is looking pretty bare for the 2008 while the PS3 is brimming with a lot of high quality titles.

That said, even with out GTA IV Sony still has a very strong holiday lineup.  You've got Heavenly Sword, Warhawk, Lair, and the amazing Ratchet and Clank.  Ratchet and Clank has the potential to re-define what we consider next generation graphics.  The game could even surpass what Epic did with Gears of War.  Platform fans are only going to get this kind of game on the PS3 and I think it has the potential to sell a lot of hardware.  Heavenly Sword and Lair are good games but I'm not necessarily sure they are going to big system movers. 

If the mainstream press picks up on LittleBigPlanet Sony could be in good shape as the game is just mind blowingly awesome.  It's a bit of a hard sell but the game is something that people really have to see in action to appreciate.

Time will tell how things work out and I can't say I'm too disappointed the game slipped to 2008 as it will give gamers more time to deal with the other awesome games that are coming out this year.