Why the PS3 Fails, and the Wii Succeeds

By Mike on 11:01 am

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Sony's Playstation 3. Supposedly the ultimate game console on the market right now, although Sony likes to down play that. The PS3 is truly an all in one media center offering true HD movies, music, photos, games, and even Linux. The only thing the PS3 can't do is cure cancer. Oh wait, it does cure cancer thanks to Folding@Home. It features a state of the art IBM Cell Processor, nVidia Geforce 7800 graphics, and Sony's Bluray high definition video disc drive. The PS3 is certainly a powerhouse, yet it sits collecting dust on store shelves while it's primary rival, the relatively low powered Wii, is selling like hotcakes. Why? Don't people want the latest and greatest anymore?

In many ways, the PS3 is a victim of it's own power and is perhaps just slightly ahead of its time. Sony built the console using the same ideas they incorporated into the Playstation 2. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be working for the PS3. There are numerous reasons for this. The primary factor is price. Here in Canada, you can get a brand new PS3 for $659.95. This price drop is primarily because the console is cheaper to import now thanks to the increased value of the Canadian dollar. However, this is still $30 US more than it sells for in the States. Historically, other consoles that have tried to sell at this price point have failed miserably. Take the Panasonic 3D0. It tried to sell for nearly $700 US, marketing itself as a home entertainment system as well. The original Playstation, ironically enough, smashed the 3D0 and sold 17x as many units despite an aggressive marketing campaign for the 3D0. The console lasted barely three years on the market. I see the same thing happening for the PS3.

It's not that the PS3 is a bad console. It's very good at what it does but its still a jack of all trades system. Sony's insistence on using the Bluray drive is another key factor that keeps the price high and sales down. Xbox 360 and Wii use DVD and a DVD derivative respectively. The eight gigabytes offered by dual layer DVDs is plenty for games. Xbox 360 does offer full HD-DVD support with an external addon drive. In my opinion, this is what the PS3 should have done. Though it is the most cost effective Bluray player on the market, this drive is what's keeping the price $200 more than the Xbox. Other than for playing HD movies, Bluray right now is pretty useless. Experts think that it won't be well into the next decade before DVD for software storage is exhausted and the new HD drives become common place in computers. This will likely come at a point when the PS3 is dead or nearing the end of its service life. Sony can't even fix this since all the games that are out are on Bluray. Talk about digging yourself into a hole.

So where does the Wii factor in? Why is it hammering the PS3? It's graphics are clearly inferior and it can't even play regular DVDs. Wii follows Nintendo's philosophy of keeping it simple. It's a game console, nothing more. However, it's unique form of game-play is where it really shines over the PS3. It's attractive to causal gamers for its simple and fun games and parents like it because it gets their kids up and moving. Something that the PS3 does not do. For gaming, the PS3 has a trail of mediocre titles and despite its power, it still retains conventional game-play. There was plans for a motion system but they were scrapped. The Wii is also 1/3 of the price of the PS3, which makes it more attractive for casual gamers and parents who don't want to mortgage their house for a game console.

It's simple as that. Though the hardware is good on the PS3, among the best, its mediocre games and high price compared to the Wii is what's keeping gamers away. With no plans for price cuts, it looks like the PS3 is just going to be another footnote in video game history.

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