Tuesday, May 9th, 2006
Is Sony's PS3 A "Me-Too, Me-Too" Machine?
Above is a press photo of the upcoming PS3. The most apparent thing about it is that it seems to resemble a familiar Sony console you may already have. And it seems to have functionality you've heard of before. And it will play games you've probably played before.
My main reaction concerns the controller. I think most people who read this article remember the original controller design. It was a cross between a dildo and a boomerang. I never got to hold it, so it may really have been the most comfortable thing to use in the world, but I would be embarrassed to be seen with it.
"Hi Wil, I just dropped by to.... what are you doing?"
"What? What? I'm playing video games! I'm playing PS3!"
"It's a controller! Seriously, it's a controller! Oh god, don't tell anyone!"
The internet community completely slammed Sony on the controller design. Sony apparently took this to heart and redesigned the controller. After months of silence and research and development and focus groups and whatever else multi-million dollar corporations do to design controllers they decided on...
The PS2's controller.
Okay, I know we were hard on the first design, but what happened? Did you fire your entire hardware design department? This isn't a new controller design, this is lazy. They can tout it's "reliable design", "comfortable familiarity", and "industry standards" all they like. As far as I'm concerned, this is the same as Hollywood's habit of pumping sequel after sequel at us: it's financially safer to give people something the market has already proven is successful than to try to be innovative.
And hey, on the theme of "if it's getting a lot of buzz, let's jam it into this machine", it seems the "new" PS3 controller has some motion sensing capabilities.
However, built into the mechanics, the new Dual Shock will offer a promised six degrees of freedom for gamers. Bringing out the Producer and Director of Warhawk, Dylan Jobe of Incognito, Harrison explained that with a tilt to the left, players will be able to turn their jets in the same direction. With a quick raise of the controller, players can jump in altitude, or move forward and backward. What does all of this mean? Finally, those overexcited gamers who move to the left and right when turning in racing games will be able to make it really, really happen.
Hey that sounds cool. That's a neat concept, being able to control a video game through your actual actions, rather through pressing pads and buttons. It makes the interaction with what you see on screen more "real". Wow, if only a company would develop a whole system around this concept, and focus entirely on this type of gameplay!
So the XBox launched early, with comparable power levels, comparable graphics capabilities, an established online presence, and a hard drive. Then Nintendo completely bowls people over with the Revolution, now called the Wii. Say what you want about those two consoles, they are succeeding at their endeavors. Xbox was the console to have in North America at Christmas, the graphical wow factor HD TV early adopters' wet dream, and currently the only next gen console on the market. Nintendo skipped the whole more power, better graphics, next gen fight and introduced a console that has, over the past couple months, become the biggest buzz machinery in years. I don't know anyone who isn't interested in the Wii.
That kind of leaves Sony on the sidelines. Sure, they dominated the last two generations and have an amazing library of titles. So did Nintendo with the NES and the SNES. Then, with the N64, they tried to be everything, promise everything, missed everything, and people moved on. This console, though it may have a couple "must have" exclusive games coming out for it, comes across as an also-ran. It plays DVDs and it plays games and it plays music and it uses Blueray and it goes online and it has a PS2 controller you used to like and it does that Wii motion thing and it has a hard drive and and... really, it's good, honest, please still be interested!
Financially, I'm in a position where I can afford a next gen console, if I'm interested in it. I'm 20-30 year old geek with cash, I'm the target audience. But Sony also mentioned how much this puppy will cost.
The PS3 will be priced with two SKUs. One system will have a 20 GB hard drive, the other will feature a larger 60 GB hard drive. The system will launch in Japan on November 11th, and will launch on November 17th in North America, Europe, and Australasia. In Japan, it will retail for ¥59,800 for the 20 GB SKU, and a retailer-determined open price for the 60 GB. The North American system will retail for $499.99 ($549 Canadian) for the 20 GB and $599.99 ($659 Canadian) for the 60 GB.
Five hundred and fifty dollars for the base unit? Six hundred and sixty dollars for the full unit? Are you guys insane?
I thought the XBox 360's dollar figures were nuts. If they are looking to get "early adopters" with that, then I am not interested. Maybe all this "this is not working, rework it" and "this is getting all the press, cram it in" mentality is getting expensive.
The Wii is rumored to be launching at a sub-$300 US price range, and we all can expect the Xbox 360 to price drop near Sony's launch to steal it's thunder near Christmas. Good luck with your PS3, I'll might catch you a couple years later when the hype has died down and I can afford your console without taking out a loan.
Read the Gamespy.com article on the Sony announcements here.