Last week ended with game-industry analysts bemoaning "dismal" sales of the PlayStation 3 this past September. However, all the number-crunching obscured a nugget of potentially more troubling news for the future of Sony's console.
In his latest column, San Jose Mercury News columnist and noted author Dean Takahashi claims that this year, "Sony [has] pleaded with third-party developers not to abandon its struggling platform. That change in attitude is a marked difference compared to the arrogance of past years."
Takahashi concurs with the widespread opinion that the PS3 is being sliced with a double-edged sword: Development for its games is labor-intensive, while its installed base lags behind that of the Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360. As of the end of September, only about 1.9 million units of the PS3 had sold in the US since the system launched in November 2006, according to research firm the NPD Group.
By contrast, just over 4.5 million units of the Wii, which also launched last November, have been sold. The Xbox 360 has moved about 6.8 million units domestically since its November 2005 launch despite a highly public--and expensive--hardware failure problem.
"The argument is that the PS3 will show its strength as developers learn how to make games for it," surmised Takahashi. "But developers know they can staff four or five Wii teams with the same number of people it takes to make one PS3 game. We may have a glut of Wii games soon, but that's not as bad as not having enough games on the PS3."