Can the Sony PS3 survive the long run?

Console wars are here and have been for a while. Back from the day of the Atari to the more recent Sony PlayStation 3 vs Microsoft Xbox 360 vs Nintendo Wii. And the biggest loser so far has been the Sony PlayStation 3. But that’s commercially. I know of someone who uses all three consoles and he prefers the Xbox for the range of titles, Wii for the experience and PS3 for the Blu-Ray capabilities. In an ideal world, there would perhaps be a console that could combine the best of all these. Maybe someone’s working on that right now.

But while Microsoft quietly goes about garnering marketshare and the Wii outsells the PS3 by 3 to 1 in Japan and 2 to 1 in the US (it’s not available officially in India), there are some serious headaches for Sony to handle. For one, their game division posted operating losses of $ 1.88 billion in the last business year and the major problems for them at the moment are lack of game titles and a high selling price.

I spent more than 10 days with the PS3 and I have to say that it was a pleasure. The SixAxis controller was a bit tough for my liking, but no doubt it would have become smoother with time. The BD (Blu-Ray Disc) and the AV capabilities in general were very good and the picture quality was simply outstanding. Still, at Rs 40,000 (almost), it’s not something I would want to spend money on (of course, there is the iPhone to keep in mind as well). Why? There aren’t enough game titles. And Howard Stringer, the Sony boss agrees when he promises, “Attractive game software is the key to accelerate PS3 growth over the next year.”

A few days ago, I visited ‘Croma’, the new electronics store in Mumbai (branches at Juhu and Malad) and was pleasantly surprised to find the PS3 and Xbox 360 on display. Interestingly, I also noticed more peripherals and game titles for PS2 than PS3 and this has to be an issue that Sony wants to sort out soon. Kids trying out the consoles were oblivious of the fact that it was indeed a PS2 they were playing on and if the parents aren’t as well tuned in to the gaming circuit, they could well be coaxed into buying the older console.

Nothing wrong if it is bought by choice, but not due to lack of information. Xbox, incidentally, displayed both consoles. Is there any doubt now why Sony is losing this battle? I don’t mean to imply that this is the only reason, but there seems to be a carelessness about the whole business. With their competition offering similar, albeit slightly stripped down consoles for a whole lot less, who would look at the PS3 even if it is shinier?

Tags: Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, PS3, Xbox, Wii, Consoles, Gaming

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