Hundreds of thousands of PlayStation 3s have now shipped out of Sony's warehouses and are now where they belong--in gamers' hands. Word of mouth is beginning to spread as first impressions are surfacing, and according to The New York Times, the final product does not quite match the hype.
The paper's Seth Schiesel opens his experience with the PS3 with this statement to Sony Corp.'s CEO: "Howard Stringer, you have a problem. Your company's new video game system just isn't that great."
Schiesel claims to have spent more than 30 hours with a retail PS3 and played more than a dozen games. After his marathon of gaming, he says that although the PS3 is "the world's most powerful game console," it is "surprisingly clunky to use and simply does not provide many basic functions that users have come to expect, especially online."
The high-profile newspaper goes on to point out several other problems with the console, including controllers that need to be synched up to each PS3 it is used with through a USB cable (versus Microsoft's truly universal Xbox 360 controller), lack of custom soundtracks, lack of a unified friends list, and no background downloading. In Sony's defense, the fact that the PS3 is a connected console means that system updates can be added later, like they have been with the Xbox 360.
There are a few positive notes, but the review is overwhelmingly negative. Schiesel, who lauded the Xbox 360's ease of use when that console launched, feels as though the PS3 is largely "unfinished" with some features that feel "tacked-on."
"Sony can't be happy with this review," Newsweek technology editor N'Gai Croal told GameSpot. "Fortunately, there's nothing like a Tickle Me Elmo-type shortage to keep potential customers salivating, regardless of what the Old Gray Lady has to say."
Only time will tell whether this and any other poor reviews of the PS3 will do anything to deter gamers from buying the much-hyped console, or possibly convince them to buy a machine from one of Sony's rivals.
One analyst thinks it's inevitable supply shortages will maximize the Xbox 360's chances this holiday season. In a memo sent to investors today, Colin Sebastian of Lazard Capital Markets said, "Retailers are likely to encourage consumers unable to find PS3 or Wii consoles to consider purchasing an Xbox 360."
Sony was unavailable for comment as of press time.