Gaming has been a pastime of mine since I was about 5 or 6. Some of my earliest memories are of playing Ice Hockey and Kid Icarus on the NES, and as I grew, so did the industry. As I type this at 28 years of age, I’m now able to purchase a full game — the same game that sits on a shelf at GameStop — directly from my console, download it to the hard drive, and play it without having to leave the couch (yes, PC gamers, I know you’ve been able to do this for a while, but it’s still relatively new to us console folks).
But as much as this convenience delights me, it also frightens me, because it comes at a price.
It’s been a while since Blu-Ray became the victor over HD-DVD. The battle was tough, but most people agree that since Blu-Ray is the superior format, it deserves the spoils. But Sony is still waiting on those spoils. Hothardware.com reports that “consumers are still wary due to the battle with HD-DVD, and frankly, many are still content with DVD. In too many cases, upscaled DVD looks “good enough” for consumers, and only those with oodles of disposable income are willing to fork out for Blu-ray […] it’s tough for many to start building another movie library on another format.” The article also claims that, oddly enough, “11% of Americans own an HD-DVD player, while just 7% own a Blu-ray player.”
It’s true, Blu-Ray players aren’t cheap, and the movies are no bargain either. In fact, most people that own a Blu-Ray player have it through their Playstation 3. We also know that PS3 sales aren’t great either. One commenter on Hothardware.com said:
“Sony blew it the same way with the BetaMax video format years ago. They didn’t license the technology to other companies who would have sold it cheaper to the public, resulting is the VHS format wiping the floor with them,…….*HINT*-The BetaMax format was far superior to VHS but that didn’t matter then as it doesn’t matter now. But the SONY blinders are still on. They want to make a killing on us no matter what the consequences. The players are way too expensive compared to what they cost to build and the movies are better, but way too expensive in today’s repressed markets.”
It was recently reported that Bobby Kotick—head of one of the largest video game companies: Activision—is a little discouraged with the state of Sony and the Playstation 3. Kotick says, “I’m getting concerned about Sony; the PlayStation 3 is losing a bit of momentum and they don’t make it easy for me to support the platform. It’s expensive to develop for the console, and the Wii and the Xbox are just selling better. Games generate a better return on invested capital on the Xbox than on the PlayStation.”
Kotick attributes to the PS3’s slow sales to its hefty price. Right now, the Playstation 3, with an 80 GB hard drive sells for $399.99. For the same price, you can purchase the Xbox 360 “Elite Bundle” which includes a 120 GB hard drive, Halo 3, Fable 2, a headset, and an Ethernet and HDMI cable. That’s quite the difference. Mr. Kotick also states that “[t]hey have to cut the price, because if they don’t, the attach rates [the number of games each console owner buys] are likely to slow.” And he is right. There isn’t much to entice a consumer to pay more for a console and get less. In fact, the only thing that the Playstation 3 has going for it is its inclusion of a Blu Ray player.