I am honestly beginning to believe that hubris is so tightly ingrained in the Sony Corporate culture that ‘berate the customer day’ likely stands alongside ‘casual Friday’ as a regular occurrence. OK, perhaps that is a bit harsh, but what came out of the mouths of Sony at their E3 press event were definitely NOT the words of a company in DEAD LAST in every possible category of gaming for the last several years who should be looking to ingratiate themselves with the customers who had previously made them the biggest name in console gaming.
How bad is it? Nearly 4 years after the release of the PS3 Sony is touting gameplay numbers … FOR THE PS2! Yep, the PS2 was the second most played console in 2009 – which given the awesome library is no surprise. But that only highlights where the PS3 fell … which was fourth … out of four.
Before I continue dumping on Sony and their E3 talk, let me be clear where they DID shine yesterday – delivering GAMES that will absolutely delight their faithful fans. Sony has not approached their next-gen console as a way to broaden the gaming market, but rather by making games with evolutionary gameplay and HUGE graphics improvements … and that looks to continue. If you are looking for games with solid gameplay and epic visual scope – Sony has the games for you.
So let’s summarize what Sony covered in their E3 announcements:
3D Gaming – the PS3 has hardware capability to run 3D games, and when coupled with a 3D TV (preferably from Sony for the ‘full experience’) and wonderfully uncomfortable glasses will provide a great high-definition 3D gaming experience.
Playstation Move – Sony’s funny looking ice cream cone controller that is essentially a ‘next gen Wii-mote’ got some stage time and also release date and pricing.
Playstation Plus – Sony is tired of having the worse of the two major online console gaming services, and apparently decided that the problem wasn’t a lack of features but a lack of them charging customers!
Playstation Portable (PSP) – Sony has recently called the over-priced, under-featured, customer-hostile PSP Go an ‘experiment’ and summarized what they learned as ‘customers aren’t sophisticated enough to realize that paying $50 more for a system and having to rebuy all of your games at higher than retail prices is THE FUTURE’.
Playstation ‘Exclusives’ – You know how I keep detailing pre-order deals for upcoming games? Well, if someone gets a special cope included ONLY if they buy the PS3 version of the game … then Sony would claim that as an ‘Exclusive’.
Sony’s Playstation Games – As I said from the outset, the one place Sony had a ‘hit’ was with GAMES. And for many, that is all that matters:
Overall I saw Sony’s E3 presentation as a mixed bag. The PS3 is a great bit of hardware, but Sony overestimated their power, customer’s willingness to fork over $600 for a game console, and developer’s willingness to struggle with the PS3, and as a result are playing catch-up. One thing is clear – they have a solid hardware platform with plenty of room for more development.
Their new initiatives were fairly weak, but if they continue to develop the Move and work with publishers it might be a solid addition to the platform.
Playstation Plus and the PSP concern me: the PSN store is pretty much the worst value in gaming and the Plus looks to merely expand that to all of Sony’s online offerings. As for the PSP … I am not sure what they SHOULD do, but pretty much the opposite of everything I have heard recently would be a great start.
However, perhaps the most ironic thing was to have a theater full of folks in 3D glasses just a couple of hours after Nintendo showed how to do no-glass 3D for gaming. And on a handheld, no less. That in itself made Sony look silly.