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Hey Sony: It’s The Developers, Stupid

Sony is interesting in a “I can’t turn my head… I must watch this grotesque traffic accident” kind of way. At one time the de facto standard for the Playstation 2 and other high quality electronics, it is now burdened with the Playstation 3 and its laughable sales performance. To be fair, the Playstation 3 is an engineering beauty and an elegantly powerful machine.

For the first time in 16 months, the Playstation 3 surpassed sales of Nintendo’s Wii console in Japan. While Sony is spinning the news as a sign that their console has finally become more popular than the Wii, the fact of the matter is gamers bought the PS3 in order to play popular new game titles available only on that platform.

Ironically it was Sega’s Yakuza 3 that drove the latest surge, hearkening back to the early console war days and highlighting the exact same issue: like the PS3, consumers didn’t really care that the Sega systems were more technically advanced than the Nintendo offerings. As it turned out, players bought one or the other because they wanted to play Super Mario Bros. or Sonic the Hedgehog.

The key takeaway? The platform is worthless unless there is great software to use with it.

Sony is in a bizarre spot: they have an excellent platform upon which developers can and want to develop mind-blowing content. Perhaps their platform is the most advanced and capable – so much so that learning to harness its full potential will take years. Rather than proactively encouraging development, however, Sony is coasting on the success it had with its PlayStation 2 offering and treating developers coldly rather than as partners. Rather than fight Sony for the “privilege” of developing for the PlayStation 3, many companies are simply focusing their efforts on other systems such as the Wii where larger install bases mean bigger returns on investment.

We’re very interested in the PlayStation 3 and sincerely hope that Sony doesn’t screw this one up with their arrogance. A sampling of their hallucinations include:

The PS3’s Blu-Ray Player Justifies the Machine’s Cost

Too bad the component costs Sony $100 per unit. Sony may be looking ahead to mega-games that require the storage capacity offered by Blu-Ray, but in the meantime they are marketing the PS3 as a top-of-the-line Blu-Ray player.

Problem: They don’t include a remote control, and they don’t have an Infrared receiver. If you want to watch movies you have to use your game controllers or an optional bluetooth remote control – forget about compatibility with your existing home entertainment system.

Sony is the Official Leader in Gaming

Sony believes that the Wii is in a different market and the XBox lifespan/failure rate is going to mean wider adoption in the future. Regardless of sales (it trails the XBox and Wii), Sony believes the PS3 makes it the “official” leader in gaming. We stress once again – hardware is worthless without software.

The Sony Doesn’t Compete with the Wii

According to Sony, the Wii is not a next-generation console because they don’t target hard-core gamers. Therefore by reducing prices on the PS2 (which Sony considers to be the actual competitor to the Wii), they will be diluting Nintendo’s ability to deprive them of PS3 sales. Because it makes sense to move the PS2 and leave the PS3 sitting on the shelf.

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