Analysis: It Can’t Get Much Better than the PS3…

September 24, 2006 at 6:07 am Leave a comment

Analysis I was always a little bit confused with game consoles. Starting with the Nintendo 64, I watched Nintendy closely as they literally threw their game consoles in the bargain bins. What began as awe turned into sheer disappointment. Nintendo’s consoles are usually one generation behind, strutting horrible graphics, lacking important features, and falling behind its competitors half-way into its lifespan. Meanwhile, SONY masters the gaming console format in 1995 with the PS (now known as the PSOne). Games like Tekken, Gran Turismo, Grand Theft Auto, and Ridge Racers all find success on the console, with lovely graphics [at least for its timeframe], and stellar features. Even Microsoft mastered the technique, choosing graphics and presentation over gaming. The XBOX proved to be a horrible investment at launch, but has turned out to be great in the long run. Halo, Call of Duty, Halo 2, and PGR all were excellent titles.

Now with each brand’s latest entry into the market, they’re trying to do something different. Microsoft is going with the half next-gen approach–improving graphics by about 50%, forgetting about HD and Wi-Fi at launch (which comes in separate and expensive packages), but mainly focusing on the game experience and XBOX Live. SONY is going all out–not only improving graphics by 100%, but making HD a must with HDMI support for games and Blu-Ray support right out of the box. Moreover, Wi-Fi, internet access, etc. all make their way into the console. Nintendo is going the next-gen route as well, pioneering a new gaming revolution with the Wii. Its motion-sensing console will allow gamers to be involved in the way a game is played. Graphics are an improvement over the GameCube, but still prove to be last-gen. Wi-Fi, Internet Access, and photo viewing are all a plus.

But who’s the real winner here? I believe it is SONY. Everyone has criticized them for raising the bar too much and over-pricing the PS3 at $499/$599. I don’t believe that they over-priced it. If anything, they under-priced it. Blu-Ray and HD technology enhance the gaming experience, pushing graphics to new limits. It is only natural that they cost so much–they are both relatively new, like any other product. Even so, as this technology becomes more of a standard, SONY can lower the price to $300-$400, without sacrificing profits.

By the end of the decade, HD will be the standard. And, SONY will have the best deal. People who made a smart investment with the PS3 will win out, and their console can truly last for 10+ years. As for the competitors, the lifespan of the GameCube and the XBOX are a true example to what the Wii and 360 will look like. The GameCube’s aspirations to become a true gaming component were written off 6 months after launch. The XBOX looks like an old NASA computer from the 70s.

It can’t get much better than the PS3.

But, in order to be fair, the competitors also need a chance. The Wii’s motion-sense controls make up for the lack of advanced graphics. Games like Red Steel, Wii Sports, and Excite Truck should give hours and hours on end of fun because of the motion-sensor. Its relatively cheap $250 price tag will help it push into the houses of kids and adults low on cash. The 360’s one-year advantage avoids it from being game-less. While the PS3 and Wii will be low on big titles at launch, the 360 would have already a large gaming selection.

So, before you go out and buy, think about the PS3. Right now, I think the best deal is to stick with what you have. Within a year, the PS3 could see a substantial price drop that could make it a viable competitor in this next-gen gaming market. Or, the Wii could surprise and come with new games that push the barrier. Or, the 360 could continue game-domination with a whole slew of exciting titles (like GTA4 before the PS3…).

Watch out. This is going to be a wild one.



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