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Why Sony Won't Lose The Next-Gen War 228

Posted by Zonk
from the sheer-grit dept.
GamesDaily has up an opinion piece, talking about why author James Brightman sees Sony walking away with the next-gen crown, again. From the article: "Sony is well aware of the power of its brand and it will do everything it can to leverage the PlayStation name. Providing backwards compatibility with both the PS1 and PS2, as well as offering full PS1 titles for download through the PS3, can only help to reinforce that brand and remind gamers of the PlayStation games they hold so dear. Selling over 100 million units, twice, has its advantages. In fact, there are a number of people who have probably owned nothing but PlayStation consoles, and those consumers are likely to stick with a brand they know and trust. Before they've even learned anything about Sony's new console, many consumers have already made up their minds that they want the next PlayStation no matter what. A strong brand should not be underestimated." Relatedly, the company released a few more details on its online plan via its Japanese office. That article touches on AV chat, a puzzle games service, and downloadable games.
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Why Sony Won't Lose The Next-Gen War

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  • Re:A strong brand. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HappySqurriel (1010623) on Friday October 27, 2006 @04:03PM (#16615368)
    Anyone who thinks that a gaming company can't lose is a fanboy. The real question is whether Sony has already lost with the PS3; I would say no, but I'm not writing an article for a website.

    What I think is interesting is the Playstation brand has been searched less than the Nintendo brand over the past 6 months:

    http://www.google.com/trends?q=Playstation%2C+Nint endo [google.com]
    http://www.google.com/trends?q=Playstation%2C+Nint endo&ctab=0&geo=US&date=all [google.com]

    Not really representative of anything except that the Wii and Nintnedo DS has attracted more attention to Nintendo than the PS3 and PSP have for the Playstation name.

    Note: Please don't do any searches with PS2 in them to demonstrate dominance of Sony, PS2 is used in a lot of searches (like PS2 Keyboard, PS2 Mouse) and google trends can not split them. If you compare PS3, Wii, PSP, and DS you get the following

    http://www.google.com/trends?q=PS3%2C+Wii%2C+PSP%2 C+DS&ctab=0&geo=US&date=all [google.com]

    Although PSP probably gains from "Product Service Plan" and other acronyms.
  • ...And he's entitled to his opinion. And so am I entitled to mine. Whether either opinion is valuable is totally and completely up to the individual (you).

    That said, I think there's more than enough room in the console market that nobody truly loses this round.

    But I also think that no matter how you slice it, Microsoft has cut, and cut deep, in the what would have been much greater profits for Sony from the PS3. Everybody who thought their opinion mattered said when the xBox first came out that Microsoft could never compete with Sony and the Playstation line. But, as Microsoft has shown time and time again, Microsoft is capable of assimilating a successful business strategy and making their own version viable and profitable. Sure, Microsoft has failed, don't get me wrong. Just not most of the times, or even really a substantial percentage of the times, that they've done so. Witness the Zune. I am prepared to predict that the Zune doesn't really steal the market from the iPod, much in the same way the xBox didn't from the Playstation. But the Zune will be profitable. That is my prediction.

    Oh and one other thing. I am not an owner of a single game console, from any year. So I don't think I am biased towards any particular one. I prefer the PC.

    TLF
  • by jchenx (267053) on Friday October 27, 2006 @04:11PM (#16615480) Journal
    A year ago, if you would have asked any analyst or gamer if Sony was going to lose the next-gen console war, you would have been laughed at. It was preposterous to think that the house that Sony built was going to crumble any time soon.

    It's been almost a complete 180. Now you have analysts trying to prove why Sony won't lose the next-gen war, and a lot of people doubting them.

    I'm no Sony fanboi (or anyone's fanboi for that matter, I'm console agnostic), but I don't think Sony is going to lose the next-gen war either, despite all of the company's goof-ups and mistakes. However, it's still amazing to note how far Sony has fallen, and much Nintendo's and MS's stock has risen over the course of only a year.
  • by chroot_james (833654) on Friday October 27, 2006 @04:21PM (#16615646) Homepage
    My impression is that the PS3's actual capabilities are not what people are claiming will kill the PS3. It's the price. I haven't heard much beyond the price as a reason to not get a PS3.

    Anyone care to say otherwise?
  • by LukeCage (1007133) on Friday October 27, 2006 @04:46PM (#16616040)
    Honestly, the "Playstation Brand" has been the only real justification for predicting any kind of Playstation3 success ever since Sony had their lackluster E3 2006 press briefing.

    Now, this is just personal experience speaking, but myself and three other close friends have all purchased Xbox360s over the last five months, ever since Sony's premium price was announced. These were all people (including myself) who had a strong interest in the Playstation brand but were immediately turned off by the pricing vs. features, lack of an online plan, and general corporate behavior. And while my personal experience by no means constitutes a trend, I have no doubt that others feel the same way. I think that Sony's in bad shape.

    There's no doubt that Blu-Ray may appeal to a subset of consumers. I wonder if those same consumers will enjoy paying 30 dollars or more for the Blu-Ray titles - a 50 percent premium over DVDs. This is something that no one talks about and I don't see why not. Until the price of the disks come down you, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD will be a no-go no matter how you slice it. You could put a Blu-Ray player in every home and it still wouldn't sell because the media is simply too expensive for cost vs. performance. So, at this point Sony is essentially selling a media playing format at a loss - and no one will want to pay the premium to get that media, because they either a) don't want to spend the money, or b) literally don't have the equipment to properly display high-def signal (look at the fury over Dead Rising). That's a losing proposition to me.

    I think this is probably the most interesting generation of console releases ever, and I've seen them all. What is interesting to me is that Nintendo is poised to walk away in second place (worst case scenario) or even get to first place if they manage to cross that mystical boundry that seperates "gamers" from the game-playing public. A few games have managed to do this; The Sims and Myst being the two most notable examples. If you can make a fun, easy-to-use system with a TRUE wide variety of appeal then you will become the king of the living room. But even if you can't get the casuals, Nintendo's low price and unique controller basically guarantees that it will become the second console of choice to the hardcore gamer crowd who wants either a different kind of game or something more tactile and accessible to rope in their casual friends. I also think that pro-Wii Nintendo fans, who will buy the console for Nintendo's franchises, have not yet realized the impact of buying a slightly-upgraded Gamecube down the line. In two or three years, when a game is released for Xbox360 or PS3 that really blows away the public (and it will happen, as it has happened in every generation) Wii owners are going to want to get in on that. At that point, their console's anemic power might be a liability. A port might not be technically feasible, in which case, they will then have to make a choice: Xbox360 or PS3? Which leaves us with the distinct possibility that Nintendo might get a Wii into the majority of gamer's homes (and at a profit, too!) and also appeal to the casual audience.

    Microsoft and Sony are not so lucky. By pricing their consoles expensively and having similiar technical specs, Microsoft and Sony have turned their segment into an "all or nothing" proposition. They will either take first place or die.

    There are, of course, other factors, but they rely on games, mindshare, game franchises, and online play...not console branding. Final Fantasy and Metal Gear may move units, but niether game will appeal to anyone beyond it's already hardcore fan groups. What's hilarious is that a simple look back through the history of consoles shows that console-branding means jack squat. Atari was king, but bad games let the crown slip to Nintendo. Nintendo built an almost insurmountable lead with the NES, was chipped away at by the Genesis (and how was that accomplished? GAMES! The product was inferior technically), crushed by the Playstation (also an inferi
  • by oGMo (379) on Friday October 27, 2006 @05:27PM (#16616470)
    More like:

    2000
    Sega: "The Dreamcast is going to be the most advanced gaming machine of our time! At only $149, it will be a value! On top of that, we're releasing it a year ahead of Sony's offerings!"
    Sony: "$299"

    2006
    Microsoft: "The XBOX360 is going to be the most advanced gaming machine of our time (it's just as fast as the PS3)! At only $399 (+$50/year for live, +$199 if you want HD-DVD) it will be a value! On top of that, we're releasing it a year ahead of Sony's offerings!"
    Sony: "$499 (+$100 if you want more HDD and wifi)"

  • Re:Time (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 7Prime (871679) on Friday October 27, 2006 @06:13PM (#16617106) Homepage Journal
    Sony does have two big ones:
    1. Final Fantasy XIII (and Versus XIII)
    2. Metal Gear Solid 4

    Both of these are comparable in scope to Halo... FF13 probably even a bit larger. Interesting thing is that Microsoft was probably better off having Halo and little else, because it got so attention because it was the ONLY THING that anyone was noticing. After all, a mountain is going to stand out more in the midwest than it will the Alps.

  • At the gym... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by garyok (218493) on Friday October 27, 2006 @06:25PM (#16617266)
    I was talking to one of the personal trainers and we got talking about consoles and handhelds and he said, unsolicited, that he was now boycotting Sony because of their piss-poor customer service. Apparently he had one of their walkmans and it'd failed after only 4 months so he sent it back for replacement - Sony returned it to him 4 month later claiming the failure was due to "water damage" and said that they wouldn't replace it. He'd heard about the CD rootkit, but he was pretty surprised when I told him of it's implications and some of the other strokes that Sony had pulled recently and he definitely wasn't impressed hearing about Lik-Sang. So he's tried Nintendo's goodies and he's a fan now.

    The point is: it's not just pasty-faced geeks on websites bitching about Sony any more - anti-Sony sentiment has gone mainstream. Sony are in meltdown and they're betting the farm on a console that ordinary, non-techie people are displaying a visceral aversion to. The general perception of Sony producing quality products is gone. And the beauty of it is they've given pretty much everyone in every one of their markets reason to suspect and reject their goods.

    Sony's unlikely to fail in the long-term due to Japanese business practises - shareholders holding onto stock well past the point westerners would cut their losses and corporations shoring each other up - but in the short- and medium-term they're looking pretty damned screwed.

  • by jchenx (267053) on Friday October 27, 2006 @07:02PM (#16617666) Journal
    First of all, I agree with your assessment. It's quite spot on. I do have a comment though ...

    MS launches first by a long shot and does the very safest thing, not 40X but more like 10-12X (being extremely vague here, don't crucify me) and the famously solid online component. Less cost than PS3, less powerful, more understandable, more predictable.

    I think your comment, regarding performance, is exactly what Sony wants you to think. It's the same game they played with the PS2, in order to sink the Dreamcast. In reality, though, the PS3 is NOT 3-4x a 360. It's not even twice as powerful. It's marginally more powerful, probably on the scale the Xbox was over the PS2.

    The PS3 launch titles are no longer secret. If you take a look at the videos, and compare them to similar 360 titles (although many of them are 2nd generation games now), you'll see that they're pretty similar. That's with both multiplatform games and the exclusive launch titles. Now, as developers get better with the PS3 hardware, I'm sure the games will look better. But that's the same with 360 games as well. As a lot of folks suspected, the hardware is on a fairly even level.

    Granted, some PS3 games may look better than 360 titles, but that's honestly to be expected. After all, the console did come out a year later, and costs a lot more. But 3X as powerful? Not even twice, not even close. (And of course, graphics do not make a good game ... there's the usual caveat about innovation, creativity, gameplay, etc. that don't require a powerful console ... just ask Nintendo!)

    In the end, it's just going to come down to the games ... just like it always has. Sony benefits from having very close relationships with the big Japanese developers: Square, Konami, Capcom, etc. MS is certainly improving, but until they secure more big-name exclusives, or force popular franchises to go multi-platform, it's still going to be difficult to upset Sony over the long run. (Now, over the short term, MS is certainly going to do well, as Sony battles with supply problems. How many users they can acquire, and developers they win over, will become a big deal over the next few months)

    It ain't about the hardware anymore, folks.

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