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Where Sony went wrong.

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Ever since Sony entered the market and put an end to the Sega/Nintendo wars, the Playstation has been a household name associated with gaming as Nintendo had been in the 80s, but fast forward to now. They went from the most popular console to the least popular console. How did this happen? Is the PS3 doomed to be another Dreamcast? Well I have a few ideas as to what happened and where Sony went wrong.

You lost us at $600. After the announcement at E3 2006 that the PS3 was going to be a whopping $600 (with a lesser $500 model) many gamers turned sour. In these times when gas is over $3/gal and prices of everything are going up but wages are still low, we don't want to have to pay a fortune for our entertainment. Many hardcore Sony fans said "screw it! I'm still getting one," other said "I can just get a 360 and save $200." Many more simply decided to wait for a price drop. Sony was convinced that they had a loyal enough following that gamers would be willing to pay more for anything with the Playstation name. Little did they realize that gamer loyalty is the most fickle thing out there. Ask Nintendo or Sega. Looking back at systems like the Neo Geo and 3D0, you'd think Sony would've known that gamers won't buy expensive systems no matter how nice the graphics are. The saddest part of all this was the success of the original Playstation came from it being the least expensive system on the market. The PS1 was significantly cheaper than either the Sega Saturn or N64. That, in the end is why it really won.

The "X" factor. When the Xbox first came onto the market a year after the PS2, some skeptics questioned if it had what it takes to compete in the gaming console market. Despite the lack of sales in Japan and a library mostly made up of shooters, the Xbox managed to cut into a decent portion of Sony's marketshare. Microsoft also has deeper pockets than Sony. I mean they could've bought Sony and made the X Playstation if they wanted to. Thoughout the last console wars, Sony spent too much time trying to pummel Nintendo into oblivion that they paid no attention to the up and coming system that hard a hard drive, a killer first person shooter and a much better online system plus it was scooping up once exclusive Sony games like Grand Theft Auto. Sony execs admitted their underestimating of the Xbox mainly due to its lack of sales in Japan. Bad move.

Didn't have a year headstart. Another reason the Playstation 1 and 2 did so well was that they came into the market sooner than their competition. I mean they had the Saturn and Dreamcast as their only competition and we all know, neither of those stood a chance. This time around Xbox, was smart and got into the market first. It's only a shame that It took the 360 almost a year to get a truly "killer app" that really pushed hardware sales. Maybe if "Gears of War" had come out sooner, the 360 might have had an even bigger headstart. If history has told us anything about console wars, whoever gets the system out first (unless it's called the Saturn or Dreamcast) tends to have the advantage.

PSP made us wiser. Remember when we were convinced that the PSP was going to kill Nintendo's dominance in the handheld market because it had better graphics and all sorts of nifty bells and whistles than the DS? Fast forward to now, The DS Lite flies off the shelf with one solid game after another, the PSP continues to sell ok and has a few decent titles now but this falls well below Sony's expectations and hype. When the PS3 was announced, many gamers saw the price of this fancy console with killer graphics and all these bells and whistles and then saw the Wii which wasn't as powerful but offered a new way to play and this seemed reminiscent of the PSP/DS showdown which taught us "innovation wins over raw power."

Blu-Ray Just what we need,another format war. When the PS2 came out, it was actually a cheap DVD player which helped early sales and probably what gave it an advantage over the Dreamcast. But DVDs had beenout a whilebefore the PS2 came out and were pretty much considered the new standard format. We had grown tired of rewinding VHS tapes and many more wearing out and dying on us and we were ready to embrace DVDS for their better picture and not needing to rewind. Then, just as HD is becomingaffordable, it was time to bring DVDs into HD as well and instead of just making one kind of HD disc, Sony had to go and try to introduce anew format and divide the movie companies, but after all this is saidand done, most gamers, like myself feel this Blu-Ray player is the only reason for the $600 price. I mean add the HD player to the 360's price and it's $600 so in the end, gamers feel that the PS3 is nothing more than an Xbox 360with a $200 Blu-Ray player added on.Honestly if you want to start watching DVDs in HD, just wait. One company is working on a universal HD/Blu-Ray player to put an end to this silly format war. That's the one you should buy. Also guys, you can't watch porn on Blu-Ray. Remember that was the deciding factor in the VHS/Betamax wars of the 80s.

Sony's cocky ass attitude. After the $600 announcement at E3, gamers were mad and wanted to know why they should pay so much. Instead of humbling themselves, Sony got on this elitest kick of "gamers want to pay more for the best experience," and "We think it's too cheap." All these quotes only made gamers angry and if you were like me, you didn't want to buy one, just out of spite. Even after the messy launch, the Ebay price scalping and the lack of killer launch games, Sony was still pompus. Even when the Wii was outselling 2 to 1 and 5 to 1 in Japan, Sony retorted saying "it's just a gimmick" or "the Wii is an impulse buy." Yeah, Sony, 7 million people bought the Wii on impulse. Luckily, in recent weeks, Sony seems to have finally gotten down on its high horse in light of poor PS3 sales.

Losing 3rd Party exclusives. Really, this problem started back when the GTA series made the jump from Sony exclusive to Xbox though, at the time the PS2 version came out months before the Xbox version. However now, GTA4 will be out for both next gen systems at the same time. Really, the game that got PS2s selling was GTA3. At the time it was innovative and contreversial and people wanted to see what the fuss was all about, thus PS2s and copies of the game sold. Now, the game still has a loyal fanbase but these gamers aren't nessicarily loyal to the system and why play it on a $600 system when you can get the same experience on a $400 system? Also so many other once, exclusive franchises are jumping ship. The PS3 sales are low, and companies want to make money. Assassin's Creed, Devil May Cry 4, Metal Gear Solid 4, and many believe, at this rate, it's only a matter of time before FFXIII, joins them. This isn't new, the last time, third party companies jumped ship on the Gamecube leaving Nintendo to rely on first party games to sell it (but they're all coming back now that it's popular again). These games will still be playable on the PS3, but there's less and less reason to buy a PS3 when you can now get these on the less expensive Xbox. Sony's going to have to rely on Kratos and Rachet to carry them now.

The Wii. I'm sure people at Sony are cursing God saying "Nintendo isn't supposed to be selling consoles anymore! They were supposed to die like Sega so we could pick apart their carcass of games!" The Wii has exceeded even the most optimistic anaylists predictions. Girls, kids and old people are buying it left and right. Despite the lack of a cell processor and a DVD player, it's innovative gameplay and low price made it a hot item. With the PS1 and PS2, despite being for "adult gamers" many kids had these systems as well, but what parent wants to spend $600 just so their 5 year old can play Spongebob? Little kids don't care about HD graphics or online networking. They want to have fun and they can get that for $250. Leaving the adultmale hardcore demographic to be fought over by Xbox 360 and PS3 and many of them have Wiis too. Then of course there was Sony's pathetic attempt to rip off Nintendo's motion sensing idea. I think Xplay said it best "the Sixaxis motion sensitive controls are like herpes, they show up every once in a while to remind you they're there."

The PS2. The PS2 outsold Xbox and Gamecube by a large margin to the ponit where Sony could get exclusive rights to just about any game and though it was good to show support for the current system even when a new one is on the way, Sony might have had too much support. Once their new consoles were out, Nintendo and Microsoft put the past behind them. The Xbox had a few third party games to keep it going a little longer and the cube had Zelda, but PS2 had several high profile titles for the PS2 this past holiday season FFXII, Guitar Hero II, Bully then God of War 2 this past spring, so where were these titles for the PS3? Resistance was good but everything else either sucked or was availble for the 360. My thought would've been to move Final Fantasy XII to the PS3. Heck it already looked next gen. as wellAlsoOkami whichwas sadly overshadowed by the higher profile PS2 titles but I think might have had a shot on the PS3's smaller library. I mean it already had its own interesting look anyway and didn't really matter if it look super realistic.

So will the PS3 die like the Dreamcast? Probablynot. While it is in third place, it's selling units and has actually sold faster than it's previous incarnations. For Sega, the Dreamcast was just the final failure after a long line of failed hardware (Game Gear, Sega CD, 32x, Saturn, etc.). Sony isn't just in the gaming business. Even though they lose $200 on every PS3 made, they get revenue from movies, music and electronics to make up for it. Sega was solely a gaming company. In the end, the suits will decide to continue to make hardware or not, but if there's one lesson to be learned from this is that one's overconfidence can be one's downfall.

The Best Games you Never Played.

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Well it's summer again, time for the annual gaming drought that plagues us until fall when the companies shovel out tons of big titles in time for Christmas. Every year, it's the same thing.  The summer months are full of crappy games based on summer movies and games too crummy to be relased for Christmas.  You find yourself slumming through the bargain bins or dig up something you got for Christmas but hadn't finished but I have compiled a list of some of the best games out there that a lot of gamers passed up.  Mind you, many of these are not your traditional game fare and may not be what you're into playing but if you're looking for something unique and different, give these a try.

Psychonauts (Xbox, PS2)This is one that most critics and store clerks will always mention.  It's hard to find good platformers these days that aren't based on kids' cartoons.  Mario or Rachet throw us something now and then, but that's about it.  Psychonauts was the work of gaming legend Tim Schaffer (Monkey Island).  It has a trippy art style similar to that of a Tim Burton stop motion animated film and tells the story of Raz, a young circus performer who escapes to a summer camp for kids with telepathic abilities.  The levels take place inside the minds of others and the levels themselves are challenging and fun.  As you progress, Raz gains new mental abilities like telekenisis and clairvoyance. The game is laugh out loud funny with top notch voice acting and hard to put down.  If you've updated your Xbox 360 emulator, you should be able to play it as well as on your PS3.

Beyond Good and Evil (Xbox, PS2, Gamecube) Ubisoft took a Zelda-esque adventure and set it in a sci-fi world.  It's more of a stealth game then an action game.  You play as a young girl named Jade who's home planet of Hillys is being attack by aliens called the Domz but while she thinks her planet's military force is protecting people, she soon finds herself on a mission to find out the truth.  It incorporates so many elements of other games and does it so in a great way.  My only complaint was that is was too short.  You should be able to play it on your next gen console. (360 may need updated)

Okami: (PS2) Poor Okami, you got overshadowed by so many bigger PS2 titles last fall. Bully, Guitar Hero II, Final Fantasy XII had bigger ad budgets and your poor sales made Capcom close your studio.  We could've used you for the PS3 launch?  Still, if you have your PS2 sitting around and have finished God of War II, consider this visually stunning adventure.  You play as the white wolf goddess Okami Amaratsu who has to fight off an evil dragon demon and restore life to a dying world.  Despite all the next gen graphics out there, this boasted a unique art style resembling Japanese woodcuts.  The biggest attraction is Okami's celestrial brush which you use to paint the landscape and use special attack powers.

Elite Beat Agents (DS): With all the success of touch based games on the DS, how this did do well, amazes me.  As rhythm games go, Guitar Hero is tops but doesn't work well portably. Elite Beat Agents is the next best thing.  3 goofy government agents help out citizens in need by dancing and singing. You tap along with the beat using the stylus.  The songs are bubbly pop songs you may or may not like, but this is one of the best DS games out there.

Voodoo Vince (Xbox) Way back in the early years of the Xbox, before Live, there wasn't much to pick from.  Take Halo out of the picture and the Xbox had a lousy launch lineup.  Vince was an overlooked gem.  It was nice to see a solid platformer who's lead character wasn't a knockoff of Mario or Sonic or a kids' cartoon character. Vince is a Voodoo doll in a pre-Katrina New Orleans.  When his owner is kidnapped, he comes to life and sets off to save her the only way a voodoo doll can, but hurting himself.  Vince's voodoo powers are the highlight of this basic platformer where things happen to Vince to damage enemies around him such as getting stepped on by a giant foot, getting run over by a lawnmower and my favorite running with sissors.  If you've updated your 360, pick up a copy.

Viva Pinata (360) God didn't intend for cute, cuddly games to be on the 360, but it's hard not to get addicted to Viva Pinata.  After a slew of uninspired ports and games that were half made for the Gamecube, the produced a quality Xbox title.  Too bad Microsoft pushed it too hard as a kids game.  I bought it for myself and soon after I got my husband into playing it.  It's open ended and the goal is to make a Pinata garden and attract as many creatures as you can.  Its price came down recently as well as if you buy a 360 now you get the choice of this or Fuzion Frenzy and the later is AWFUL.

There you go. Hopefully these will get you through the summer gaming doldrums.