Me and a friend watched the Sony press conference live last night. I normally don’t watch such things alone but having another with me to help poke fun at stuff helped a lot, not to mention that the conference was mostly a snore and filled with the typical Sony crap of spending way too much time talking about all the non-gaming stuff you can do on their gaming hardware.
But, the biggest highlight happened right as soon as the release started, and that is the new slim model of the PS3 coming out near the end of the month. Half the size of the prior model and has higher storage capacity. Two versions will be out in the US on the 25th of September, a standalone model for $250, and another model for $280 that comes with a 30-dollar voucher for a free-to-play FPS tied to the EVE Online universe, along with Uncharted 3. I have to think that the timing of this is to precede the Wii U launch. A (somewhat) cheaper and greatly revised PS3 model that’s most expensive SKU comes with a 30 dollar voucher for a game that you can play for free (an FPS) and another game where you effectively play a modern day Indiana Jones and it has online multiplayer as well, versus the least expensive SKU for the Wii U that contains no game and a controller nobody really cares about, and is still more expensive than the most expensive PS3 bundle. Then of course there’s the 350 dollar Wii U with Nintendo Land.
Nintendo is now in the Red Ocean, so if I was holding out on a PS3 or wanted a new one, do I take the Wii U with no game, or the Wii U with the game that I would be embarrassed to play around anybody, or the PS3 with a game that I can play for free that at least is “artistically” neutral and Uncharted which is similar and doesn’t look embarrassing? NSMB U looks phoned in. And of course most of the Wii U launch catalog is all stuff that’s already out for the PS3/360. And for cheaper by now. I don’t know if it’ll work, but I do think Sony definitely measured this release to try and take a jab at Nintendo’s Wii U launch.
The Vita, on the other hand, was somewhat interesting. I would sum it up with the games shown as being “diverse”. There were a few ports from other systems shown (like Muramasa), but several games were entirely new IPs. There were some RPGs, hack and slash games, a few fighting games. The big thing I noticed is that there are a lot more games now trying to do the job of Monster Hunter and fill the void it is leaving on the Vita. The Black Ops game was shown. Not sure how that will turn out, but if it turns out alright, that might help the Vita a little bit, or maybe over time when the hardware goes down in price. Though at the very least a lot of software was shown off and so it seems early next year Vita owners (in Japan, anyways) will have a lot to look forward to. If they luck out, and the Vita can gain some traction, then what you said where the Vita will pick up some steam down the road rather than right away may happen. And since Nintendo won’t be supporting the 3DS themselves nearly as much, this could leave a window for the Vita to play catch-up. Though something to take away is that the PSP is still getting strong software support, and some of the games announced were having releases for both the Vita and PSP.
Me and my friend though were discussing Sony’s Achilles’ Heel, however: They kept pushing on features that were pointless for gaming. The Vita has a feature to let you read comics/manga. Maybe this matters in Japan, but I don’t think even then it does. Sony keeps pushing the multimedia angle, and that’s to their detriment. Of course, Nintendo seems to be going this route, too.
Not sure if anybody has sent this, but those are my thoughts.
No, the new PS3 models aren’t aimed at the Wii U. They are aimed at Christmas. When Microsoft and Sony put screens on their controllers, you’ll know they’re aiming at Wii U.
Unless a killer app comes out for the Vita, it is dead. The 3DS, meanwhile, is just doing lame in markets not named Japan.
I see in the story the analysts say their typical stuff. They are such sock puppets to certain game companies that they can say nothing but ‘lower the hardware price’. Have you ever heard an analyst say ‘lower the software price’? EVER?
The criticism of Sony not lowering the price is unfounded because it assumes Sony is free to lower the price. Thanks to certain politicians, the dollar has lost a tremendous amount of its value. The dollar is losing its value faster than the computer components coming down in price.
I think Sony’s approach is to ‘increase the value’ of the current model because they don’t have much freedom to drop the price. Does anyone think Nintendo wants to sell the Wii U at $299 and $349? They’d much rather hit $250 and $299.
Microsoft could eat it and drop the Xbox 360 price. But what I think they’ll do instead is ‘increase the value’ of the current models with more bundling. Xbox 360 doesn’t have problems selling in North America.
As for the aesthetics for the PS3, I don’t see any of it noteworthy for good or bad. Who the heck looks at the game console anyway? The game console is shoved underneath the TV.
What I find interesting is the change away from the ‘slot loading’ disc drive to the tray (which I prefer). This is also probably cheaper. I am mostly interested in what the build quality of the new PS3 model is.
The bundled options are not tempting. Why can’t I just choose ANY GAME I WANT for the bundle? Do we not live in the Internet age? Maybe not a third party game, but why not just choose any Sony first party game of my choosing that is below a certain price point? Or maybe I don’t choose any game and I get $60 in PSN credits.
If we are moving to a market where we download games digitally, the entire concept of bundling needs to be re-examined. If we can download games digitally, then we should be able to choose what bundled game we want. That way, game console manufacturers only have to make one model (aside from colors).
Warren Spector said he was scared of the future of gaming because at E3 2012 all he heard was talk of social media and general entertainment and not gaming. I think he’s right on that.
I suspect these marketing consultants are having so much sway over the console manufacturers at the moment. They keep talking up twitter, youtube, all this social media, facebook, without realizing that they are years too late. None of this stuff is cool anymore. Why don’t they talk about games?
Perhaps one reason why we hear so much “non-game” talk is because marketers are more comfortable about talking about facebook and ‘social media’ than they are about games. I’ve always thought that most game industry business people feel ‘embarrassed’ about gaming and wish they were in Hollywood or tech gadgets instead.