This week's NPD console sales numbers show the shiny, opulent PS3 once again taking a sorrowful place at the rear of the line. These figures don't reflect the recent PS3 price drop, but they are dismal nonetheless.
Here's my question about the PS3 and why it suffers so. Before and just after the console was released, Sony defended its absurd price by citing Blu-Ray as a consumer motivator. Even though the Blu-Ray vs. HD DVD question has not been resolved, for the better part of this year it was possible to buy a PS3 and an Xbox 360 and the Xbox 360 HD DVD drive for less than a combo Blu-Ray/HD DVD player. Even now, a cut-rate Blu-Ray player costs around $US400-$500, which is basically the same price as a PS3. And I hear you can also play videogames on the PS3.
So why hasn't Sony followed through and pimped the machine as a Blu-Ray player?One reason might be that the incremental advantage of a videogame machine would be lost on a whole segment of buyers. After all there are plenty of Blu-Ray movies, and they run across the whole spectrum of film genre: everything from Ratatouille to 300, from Planet Earth to Casino Royale.
In games? For someone who might not otherwise buy a PS3 but who was really into HD movies, maybe they'd enjoy having a go at Madden or even The Simpson's Game. But Sony hasn't exactly made it easy to know that would be the case. And there are essentially no PS3 titles for, let's say, more sensitive souls. FlOw might be the closest thing, and there's no way you'd know it even existed unless you read the game trades. And even then, it's too abstract for my mum.
So here's a speculation. The PS3's past and future success is tied at least partly to the availability of games for the less experienced, more casual player, who is part of a household in which high-end home theatre is valued. The great irony here is, the kind of games that would work are the ones we're seeing on the Wii, in terms of gameplay, but with the added benefit of the PS3's graphics rendering and disk capacity.