* This blog was originally posted on GameTrailers Dec'08. I seen no reason to deprive Gamespot readers any longer.
I've always been a gamer and my first console was the Playstation 1. Prior to that I had a BBC Micro, Amiga, and Sega Gamegear. Playstation 1 worked well, it brought arcade like games into the lounge, into my hands. I'd played Ridge Racer on a 6'x6' (or so) screen at the arcades, and by memory Ridge Racer on PS1, as well as V-Rally, Gran Turismo and others, matched the awe that the best arcade games inspired in me. In my mind the N64 was no comparison, with it's ugly appearance, old fashioned cartridges and cutesy franchises, and the Sega Saturn really died before reaching it's potential. Sega must rue the fact they didn't release Virtua Racer until too late.
Playstation 2 was also a good bed-fellow and it was only recently that I waived that friend goodbye, it having been superseded by my first Nintendo, the Wii. But certainly I can say that with the knowledge that PS1 and PS2 effectively wiped the floor with it's competitors (in terms of offering a reliable, well priced machine, great controllers and outstanding game library with excellent key exclusive franchises (Tekken, Formula 1 and GT being my favourites)), combined with the prospect of the Cell and all the good stuff that was poured into the PS3, that I was very much sold on PS3 long before its release.
I bought the Wii really due to the cost, $399 AUD, as it was alot cheaper than both the 360 (approx $700 AUD at Wii launch) and the PS3 ($999 AUD at launch) but I was safe in the knowledge that I'd become a PS3 owner soon enough, once the prices had dropped significantly. I knew this would take a while, but really anticipated this to be 2 years from launch to get to $399 AUD or lower. I would also get my first introduction to the Nintendo franchises, and I knew that it would be more accessible for my girlfriend. I even thought that waggling sticks may in fact be fun, poor deluded fool that I am.
We're now 2 years on from that time and yes I'm fairly dissapointed with the Wii, as is my girlfriend, but it certainly has been an improvement over the PS2, and my interest in the PS3 has wained to the point that I'm now confident of hanging up my compulsive longing for Sonys latest toy. To be fair there are some good games on the Wii across several genres (Ferrari Challenge, QoS, Mario Kart, Sports, PES) but it seems to be only one or two good games per genre at best, and very few truly outstanding games. Perhaps none.
Right now, Dec '08, the PS3 is still a very high $699 AUD. Sure it's great value COMPARED to other consoles, if you buy into that argument. Sure it's great value when you consider it has Blu-Ray etc, which I do see a value in. But the bottom line is that it's $699, and that's a fair whack of change. On top of that, I'm so sold on the Blu Ray and high def gaming factor that I would want to play the PS3 on a 42 Full HD LCD TV or similar, but unfortunately I don't own one. From this, I'm going to need to buy a $2500 TV to play with the $700 PS3, and in addition will have to buy accessories and games. So all up, I reckon a PS3, TV and games would come to around $3-4,000 AUD. I can't afford that. And probably more importantly, I suspect that in time, be-it 6 months, 12 months, 18 months from now, both TVs' and PS3 will significantly fall in price - so there are real benefits to be had in delaying and/or canceling that purchase.
I've been tempted by the 360, but I know I won't be satisfied with it, and I get hung up on the reliability issues and not having everything built in as the PS3 does. Still, from $299 for the Arcade with some sweet bundles out there does make it a very tempting impulse buy. And I've been pretty staunch anti-360 until recently.
But in the face of a global economic crisis, stiffening competition from the 360, luke-warm reactions to key games and new franchises, and the loss of the market lead to Nintendo, Sony's response has been almost non-existant.
I really expected Sony to respond positively to the price drops of the 360. Sure we've seen an ever-increasing number of PS3 bundles, 2 old games or 1 new game, but nothing truly inspiring. I've also seen the 40gb PS3 for only $599 but still, it's not that good a deal.
So the matter of waiting for a price drop has become far more frustrating than I expected and basically, as self-righteous as this is, I feel let down by Sony for not reducing the price by now. If it were a more reasonable price, i'd buy one, i'd buy some games, and i'm sure i'd be very happy with it. As it is, I just have to wait, and wait some more, and then find it's still too expensive. In addition, I'm aware that as the PS3 is now firmly in 3rd place, developers are less likely to focus on the PS3 - this is far from the situation I had anticipated prior to release.
In the meantime, I've had to buy myself a new PC for general use, and I got one with a $99 256mb graphics card in it. I've been quite surprised to find that it can play almost all of the console games that have been released on PC. Sure it's not a kick-arse system, but I don't need the best graphics or resolutions, and being able to play Assassins Creed, GTA IV, GRID, Gears of War and pretty much everything except the real graphic-whores (Crysis) and the Sony exclusives is pretty cool in my opinion and has basically taken away the desire I had for a PS3. I didn't spend a fortune on the PC, but I did manage to get 4gb RAM and Intel Core Duo and a 24 LCD monitor. My point being that a fairly average priced PC/notebook nowadays actually has some very good specs and seemingly can handle alot of the console released games.
Despite hearing that PC gaming in in the doldrums, I'm suspecting that it may be due for a resurgence because PCs and notebooks with quality graphics cards are becoming more affordable. The old PC gaming issues of compatibility may also be less pronounced nowadays as PCs' have everything built in now, so it's really a matter if a relatively basic model can handle the games that are being released for the consoles, and I think that they can.
OK I won't get to play GT or Tekken on my PC (unless I run a PS2 emulator), and not all console games will have a PC version released, and some games may be too demanding, for my average spec PC, but essentially I feel happy that I can play some, if not all, of the games that the PS3 and the 360 offer, so I really don't feel the need to go out and buy either of them anymore. In a few years time, I'll get another new PC and I'm positive that that will play all the best PC released games of this console generation.
People used to talk about getting a Wii60, but I reckon it's a good idea to get a WiiPC as your gaming system.