With reports of the PS3’s sales rising exponentially across the globe, Sony must now be wondering whether the console race is within their grasp. The PS3, rejuvenated by the recent price-cut and the introduction of the Slim, was once lagging behind both the Wii and the Xbox 360, sometimes even its older brother, the PS2! But since last month, companies monitoring sales from America to Japan have reported increases of up to 1000% in the number of PS3 consoles sold.
So can the PS3 win the console war? With sales improving, a glut of quality games on the horizon, and PSN nearing feature-parity with Xbox Live, its positioned to usurp the Xbox 360 and challenge the Wii’s stranglehold over the charts.
A Slow Start
Released a year after the Xbox 360 rushed to the market, the PS3 had a less than stellar introduction. It cost almost twice as much as the competition, and despite its rich list of technical features, it was a difficult price for customers to swallow. Its online service, the Playstation Network, was in its infancy, and other than perhaps Resistance: Fall of Man, the initial salvo of games was poor, with developers struggling to wrap their engines around the console’s complex new architecture.
The PS3 would continue to sell respectably, if unspectacularly. It was buoyed by the release of Metal Gear Solid 4 and Grand Theft Auto IV, but almost always lagged behind the Xbox 360 and the runaway success of the Wii.
The Pros And Cons Of Blu-Ray
It was the early price-point that stalled the PS3’s success. Sony was desperate to promote their new technology, Blu-Ray, mired in a commercial war with competitor HD-DVD. Like the PS2, Sony saw their new console as the perfect Trojan-horse to infiltrate households with Blu-Ray. It was a smart move, but risky gamble, too.
With Blu-Ray only just released, manufacturing the drive and the components was expensive, not to mention dangerous. It was a new technology with a new design process, so the PS3 suffered shortages relating to a lack of Blu-Ray components. It contributed to their late arrival and the inflated price.
But Blu-Ray is a double-edged sword. For every shortage crisis, there’s the promise of a cheap Blu-Ray player with videogame functionality for customers. It gifted developers heaps of space for their titles, and technophiles could champion the console as an all-in-one powerhouse.
The price-cut and the Slim have liberated the PS3, which once seemed destined to tarnish the Sony name and settle for third place. It was once parodied for its lack of quality titles, but with the likes of Uncharted 2, Gran Turismo 5 and Ratchet and Clank all releasing before the year’s end, not to mention multiplatform titles such as Modern Warfare 2 and Assassins Creed 2, the PS3 has some much-needed momentum.
But its success isn’t set in stone. The PS3 has seen similar increases before, with key titles being released or around the holiday period. But the sudden increase in sales, coinciding with the price-cut and Slim, suggests customers once on the fence have disembarked. The console race is far from over.