Friday, 9 November 2007

Playstation 3 Roytec Backlash!

I've decided to vent my frustrations about the Sony Playstation 3 right here, although in hindsight a lot of time has passed since it's release, meaning that my anger at Sony has abated somewhat. But not completely.

First things first: Blu-ray. What da hell were they thinking?! Sony has blown about as much money as to completely cure Third-World Hunger on a new disk format that, at the time was released before the general public was ready for it, in a format war that if they had lost, would've been the biggest technological disaster in history! (Well, maybe I'm exagerating, but I can't be far wrong)

Never have I seen a format pushed so aggressively into the market, and the thing is, the reason that Sony did so (and HAD to do so) is because they were trying to win on two fronts:

A. The Gaming Industry
B. The Movie Industry

Two quite similar fields that, in theory, could be negociated in a similar manner. HOWEVER, it would be naive to think that a strategy that would work for one would also work for the other! I must admit, it was kind of clever to use the Playstation 3 to help solidify the Blu-ray format into as many homes as possible, but I also feel that in doing so they diluted the gaming strength of the PS3 against it's opponents, Microsoft's Xbox 360, and Nintendo's Wii.

Sony thought they could muscle the competition into submission with a superior system running a superior disk format, which to me seems like a very american business tactic (yeah, I went there! Sue me!). But as history has repeatedly proven, things don't always go as we expect them to. The Xbox 360 had gained a lead by being the first out of the gate, the general public refused to swallow the $599 pricetag, and one thing that no-one had predicted (me included) had thrown a spanner in the gears, Nintendo's Wii (and I STILL can't believe they went with that name! I'll write more about the Wii at a later date!).

Granted, 2008 is looking like a better year for the PS3, but it seems that Sony are playing catchup. Granted, their strategy was more of a long game where as their opponents wained, Sony's machine would keep on going, but it's difficult to ignore the fact that the initial success of the Playstation 3 wasn't what they had hoped.

My second issue with the PS3: No killer Applications (

It's pretty much a given that most launch titles for a new console are weak, and do not showcase the full potential of the machine it's playing on. It always takes time for a gaming developer to get to grips with a new consoles capabilities. What I don't understand is, why the hell did Sony not put more effort into getting half decent games out on it's console as soon as possible?

When the PS3 was coming out, I heard a rumour that someone at Sony said that they didn't need good games in order to sell lots of Playstation 3's. Regardless of whether they were joking or not, and regardless of the PS3's other abilities like watching movies and downloading content off the internet, the one thing a console will always need IS GAMES. And GOOD GAMES at that.

The funny thing is, so far the games that have been claimed as being Killer Apps (such as Heavenly Sword and Assassin's Creed) unfortunately haven't lived up to their hype. To make matters worse, some multi-platform game releases have proven to be inferior on PS3 compared to their Xbox 360 brothers, because the developers find it easier to optimise a game for the 360, then upscale to the PS3 afterwards. The number of games that are being made especially for the PS3 is at the moment is a lot less than there was for the PS2.

The real Killer Apps are around the corner. Metal Gear Solid 4 will be coming out this year (fingers crossed), and Final Fantasy 13 is scheduled for a (yet to be confirmed) 2009 release, but I all feels a little "You're a little late! See you again!" to me. PS3 already lost exclusive rights to Devil May Cry 4, and it seems the reasons for owning a PS3 are shrinking and shrinking by the minute. Only time will tell whether these losses and setbacks will affect the Playstation 3 in the future.

Another issue which has come up recently that I have an issue with is the removal of the Playstation 2 backwards compatibility.

I currently own a Playstation 2. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I love my PS2, and I was willing to do whatever it took to keep it going for as long as possible. However, one point has crept into the back of my mind: one day my PS2 will fail, and there will be nothing I can do about it. Originally, the anouncement that the PS3 would be compatible with both PS2 and PS1 games was a godsend to me, because it meant that when my PS2 does fail, I'd have something to fall back on. Unfortunatley, this may no longer be the case and neatly brings me to my next point.

Different versions. At last count, there are more than 10 different versions of the Playstation 3 released across the planet. The specs and capabilities of each varies from region to region, and some countries fare better than others in terms of what you get in the package. The PS2 backwards compatibility feature has suffered to most changes to it, firstly being emulated through hardware, then being emulated through software, and then finally removed from the latest 40GB version (in order to keep the price down).

I can totally understand why they did it, but it smacks of hypocracy. Sony made such a fuss about how Back Compat was a key point to the Playstation 3's infastructure, only to just change their minds later as if they'd totally forgotten what they'd just said. It also further confuses what should've been an easy question:

Which Playstation 3 version should I buy? Do you know? If you do, send me a reply with the most advantageous version for the UK (Back Compat is a must).

I pretty much knew that I would be getting a Playstation 3 at some point, because it was gonna be just like the PS2 in terms of success. Now I'm not so sure, and the more that I think about it, the more I think I'm gonna come off the worse for staying loyal to Sony. Being a fanboy is great when you are right, but not as fun when you are wrong. Especially when you, and everyone around you knows it.

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