Friday, May 18, 2007

Playstation 3 Update, Exactly 6 Months After Release.

It is exactly 6 months after the US release of the PlayStation 3, and Sony have just released their end of 1st Quarter, 2007 financial report. According to their figures, as of the end of March, PS3 shipments reached 5.5 million units worldwide, while PS3 title production shipments were 13.2 million units. Of those 5 Millions shipped, an average of reported sales figures show around 4.5 million sold. So given the date, I thought it would be an apt opportunity to revisit how the platform is doing.

There has been an online trend recently of commingling figures to support ones opinion. For example we've seen announcements of, "Our_Console is now the fastest selling console in UK History," with a cut off point that makes these figures possible. Really, you can misconstrue sales figures and dates to say anything you want. After analysing the sales info, you simply do a comparison with the competitor, pick an angle and then do a press release. As consumers, what we end up seeing as a result of all the corporate marketing, are press releases such as, "Our_Console sold the most units in history for a Saturday, ever." You get the point. In it's simplest form, it's corporate playground fighting. What's worse is the irresponsible journalism from multiple sites that have been using these releases as fuel to generate traffic and buzz which results in inaccurate conclusions. As soon as a popular site posts something like this, pandemonium hits the forums which are then loaded with quotes, links and arguments about the post.

Here, I simply deliver the news and try my very best to remain objective. In a similar way someone always manages to twist my words to make my posts appear bias. The reality of it is, I own all platforms and really don't care who wins the console or HD format war. I just want to see a return on my investment. I paid $600 for a PS3 and around $700 for my Xbox with all the necessary accessories. I want to see results and content.

In all honesty, 6 months after the release of the PS3, there are only three things I really use It for.

  • Blu Ray Player for an excellent High Definition movie experience.
  • Resistance: Fall of Man (great game, no slow down,
  • Motorstorm

Yellow Dog Linux: ( UPDATE: While I was asleep, Terrasoft have actually released an update to include Wifi Support). YDL functions well, and once there is sincere support for it, I would seriously consider using it as an addition to my home network. Another big downside to this version of Linux and the PS3 OS itself, is that it doesn't support the NTFS file format so all my external hard drives are useless with it. If your hard drive has the FAT32 file system, the PS3 and YDL will recognise the drive, however you will be limited to a 2TB partition size and a 4GB file size. This puts a potential limit on high definition content.

Multimedia Content: Transferring movie clips, pictures and music, couldn't be easier. The barrage of photo viewers is also a nice added touch. The XMB aesthetically looks great and the presentation of your content is well done. The Xbox 360 and PS3 are definitely fighting to be the hub of your multimedia content. While the PS3's XMB has a mature looks, Xbox dashboard still seems designed to fall in the 12-21 age group.

Online Content: Despite its look, Xbox Live Shines, and is completely loaded with things to do. However during the 360's first year, there really was a lack of content. PlayStation Network definitely falls into this category. The look of PlayStation Network is also very primitive but hopefully this design is a "placeholder" for what's to come. As far as actual online game play, the PS3 doesn't even flutter an eyelid when there are 40 people online at the same time. Where it does have problems is with it's spotty Blue tooth headset support. This still hasn't been addressed since day one.

Games: One of the primary reasons for buying the system is the games, and there aren't many worth buying at the moment. Given a choice between platforms, I've always bought the 360 version due to the fact that I know the voice support will work. There is not enough difference between the PS3 and 360 version of a multi platform game to warrant one over the other. The voice support however is a given on the 360. If you visit the PlayStation Website, "Spiderman 3" and "Rainbow Six" are the highlighted games. Not very inspiring, but today's "SCEA's gamers day" gave proof that without a doubt, there is a lot in the works. Let's not forget, the shelf life of the PS3 is between 8-10 years. The main concern Sony should have, would be to make sure they deliver promptly.

Firmware Update: The system has seen a lof of improvements since release, but there are still some annoying issues that need to be addressed. But giving credit where it's due, SCEA has done a great job so far, and hopefully all the oustanding issues will see resolutions in future updates.

The future: Now the exciting part. All the above are just observations of what's happening NOW. The PS3 is owed at least another 6 months before we should really expect to see some definitive changes and developments. By the end of the year there will be PS Home and we will also be on the eve of several top titles games, some which have managed to remain exclusive and others which have become multi-platform. Development costs for video games have soared into the millions, which marks a severe change in the industry. Expect to see less and less "exclusives" as time goes on. To get a return on their investments, development companies really have little choice other than to appeal to as many consumers as possible. Remaining exclusive makes it a lot more difficult to recover the millions spent on production. Konami for example must have either 1) A great relationship with Sony or 2)Huge faith in the PlayStation 3 platform or 3) A bit of both. But it's not just the initial sales that count, over time, the PlayStation 3 has room to grow exponentially and this expected growth in user base can "encourage" development companies to remain loyal.

The bottom line is that historically, Sony are slow to deliver content. On its own two feet, the PlayStation 3 is doing great. There is little content, and it can be frustrating for the hardcore gamer who logs in every day checking for new things to do. But the future is very bright for this box of wonders, and the addition of a near perfect Blu Ray player simply gives adopters to high definition gaming more content and functionality for a marginal increase in price. Despite the Blu Ray format being released almost a year after HD DVD, it is a fact that it has steadily surpassed its competitor in movie sales and still has solid, exclusive, industry support.

More on the Figures: I've seen comparisons on sales figures based on the PS2, original Xbox and many more. The comparisons are interesting to note, but not extremely relevant. When the PlayStation 2 came out, it didn't have all the direct competition that the PS3 has now. But more importantly, the world was a very different place 7 years ago. The Internet has flourished and consumers are a lot more educated and know how to use multiple resources to educate themselves. A lot of sources are questionable, but that's another issue. Perhaps one of the pitfalls of this change is how attached consumers are to brands and products. The "wars" created today such as, "Xbox 360 vs PlayStation 3" or "DLP vs SXRD" has taken such a huge turn for the worse that forums are loaded with misconstrued information and opinions to the point that it's hard to find a place where you can just get the facts. My point? There are too many variables to compare how the PS2 did on its' 2000 launch vs how the PS3 is doing now in 2007. In addition, measuring up the PS3 against the Xbox 360 creates much room for speculation as they were released a year apart and the 360 didn't have to contend with the influx of not only gamers, but also the non gamers who were flocking to pick up a Wii for party entertainment. So you see, you can speculate and mix and match figures to prove a point, but their relevance is limited.

In retrospect however, here are some actual relevant facts to consider. If you put Google to use, you will see how much negative press the PS2 received upon release. It was branded as a failure, there was little content for a whole year, it was deemed as too expensive, analysts swore that it would follow the route of the Sega Saturn, and it's inclusion of a DVD drive was seen as an unnecessary expenses to consumers. Sound familiar?

(Please leave your comments, I would love to hear what you think. This article has already had several hundred hits and not one comment as I forgot to enable comments!!)

Amazon 1080p HDTV Sale going on NOW!!


Anonymous said...

Amazing read thank you for it.
this is exactly how most of us feel regarding the Ps3. /em tips hat.

Laughed said...

First... Sorry. Good read, you remained unbiased as you stayed with the facts but it still reads like you love your PS3 more then your 360. Can't blame you for that.

TriniMan said...

Thanks for the comments. To "laughed" I don't have a preference. I really tried to convey this. Maybe the younger gamers "love" one more than the other, but with the more mature gamers, we're just in it for the games, regardless of platform.