Clearly, Sony has been looking to bootstrap the PS3 to Grand Theft Auto IV's launch, even if this is the first time that title hasn't released exclusively on its platform first. A news release sent Thursday by Sony's agency pointed out that GTA IV's launch provided "a vigorous lift in PS3 console sales" (according to an exec with Sony channel partner Gamestop, in the kind of comment that was clearly written and approved by no one actually connected to it).
In the same release, an analyst points out that the three previous titles, launching exclusively on Playstation first, has helped build up an installation base of loyal GTA Playstation gamers. That brings up a nagging question: If Sony and Playstation can claim (and I certainly think they can) such a strong connection to the GTA franchise, how does the inexplicable lock-up problem, which seems to disproportionately affect the PS3, affect consumers considering a purchase of that console?
Is it — I'll go ahead and put it out there — at all equivalent to Xbox's Red Ring of Death PR nightmare?
Granted, GTA IV is just one title, whereas the 360's horrid, rushed-to-market design flaw can eliminate all gaming on that platform for a month or more. But if Sony is finally turning the corner in console sales thanks to Grand Theft Auto IV then how badly is it damaged by word that this mega-title, aligned to its brand for a decade, has an inexplicable defect?
Existing Xbox owners tolerate the RRoD risk probably for the same reason that existing PS3 owners will tolerate GTA lockup risk. Very few are going to rush out and buy another console because of either. But for those who have neither a PS3 nor a 360, and may be considering between the two for themselves or as a.gift, you better believe both Microsoft and Sony obsess over anything on that battleground, no matter how small.
So I'll put the question to you. Is the GTA lockup problem as bad for Sony as the RRoD is for Microsoft?