It has been one year since my last blog entry. And, since then, we have seen the launch of the PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii. While both systems are technically (and mechanically in Wii's case) impressive, the Sony launch was pretty much botched due to the lack of shipped units, substandard launch titles, and a hefty price point. According to Bloomberg, Sony only managed to launch with 180,000 units in North America rather than the already low estimate of 400,000. In addition, according to Gamestop and BestBuy, Wii was the system of choice over the Holiday season, selling out per shipment.
The news gets worse for Sony. Sega has recently announced that the once thought-to-be exclusive PlayStation 3 title "Virtua Fighter 5" will be released for the Xbox 360 this summer. Add this to the loss column of exclusive titles alongside "Assassin's Creed," a killer app in the last two E3's, the next "Grand Theft Auto," "Dragonquest 8," and "Resident Evil 5." According to G4TV, one Ubisoft honcho has gone on record to saying that Sony should just scrap the PlayStation 3 and relaunch a new and less expensive system.
Because of these events, my outlook on the PlayStation 3 looks rather grim. I cannot say I am willing to scour the earth to get my hands on one of these consoles anymore -- at least not at the moment.
With that said, the industry -- especially the consumers -- cannot afford to have the PlayStation brand fold. Although I own an Xbox 360 and religiously spit shine it like a prized-possession, I believe that if Microsoft controls 50% of the console consumer market, it may bring about unhealthy gaming practices (see Microsoft's business history). And, these practices, such as false microtransactions (where you pay to unlock what was already programmed into the game, e.g. The Godfather) will become the norm. Sure, Microsoft did not produce The Godfather, but their business strategy seems to promote and harbor these shady practices.
With strong competition between Sony and Microsoft, games will reduce in price, lame microtransactions will be less frequent, and online pricing would be more consumer-friendly. Competition is a form of checks-and-balances: it reduces the ability of any given company to rip off the common people. Thus, it is imperative that Sony scratches and claws its way back to life. They must lock in Metal Gear as an exclusive, offer their own money if they have too, and rev up on the first-party titles such as the beautiful Heavenly Sword and some original IPs. For the sake of the industry, the PlayStation 3 must live.