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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A PlayStation 3 Forecast

There's been some industry talk about whether the PS3 will manage to outpace or continue to struggle behind the 360 (nobody seems to doubt it will continue to be a distant horse to the Wii).

Pending some massively stupid move on Sony's part (and that's always possible) - I'd say their future looks bright. Firstly, HDTV adoption is cresting ahead as set prices continue to plummet. I'm currently researching a 50" 720P plasma that will hit just around a grand by the time I'm probably going to pull the trigger. That's not that much more expensive than my 36" was back in the day.

Secondly, Blu-Ray is becoming the decisive winner in the "what-its-already-over" format wars for high def. When Netflix tells you to take your ball home the ballgame can't have many innings left (although follow up rumors suggest Netflix might have a download strategy for consoles which could help the 360 immensely).

So the "finally" here should be - and the PlayStation 3 is getting better games. Well, we've had Drake's Fortune and some people have managed to port some 360 code over without completely mucking things up. However, Sony has yet to make good on their "Gaming 3.0" promise or even the "year of software" one.

So the clock is ticking on Sony - but even more so for Microsoft. That optional hard drive and lack of a decent high def player will seem less and less attractive as people gear up for the slowly inevitable march to HD. I've been saying for like a year here that Microsoft will likely just suck it up and make a 360 with specs similar to a PS3, despite all their ranting about how that's not what gamers want or need. And maybe they were right - back then.

In 2008, I'd think a "360 Ultimate" would be already on the table. If Microsoft had a console with Blu-Ray and a HD for a reasonable price, it would get my consideration. Right now, I'm just looking for something that will hop along with the HDTV - and that console begins with a P.


Unknown said...

What the heck is a "Preamcast"? ;^)

Seriously, though, Sony still has a hard road ahead. The coding difficulties don't just magically go away, and all those ports that we've had for the past year have been "Xbox 360 primary, PS3 secondary" and they've been absolute hell on developers.

What Sony needed to do a year ago was tell (or pay) all developers to put PS3 as their primary codebase and port to Xbox 360 second. We've seen with Burnout Paradise that this can produce very nice results. But if devs didn't make this switch until late last year (for current projects) then we've still got a year or more of sub-par (or dropped) ports from Xbox 360 codebases.

That is depressing, speaking as a PS3 owner.

Now, that said, I'm more excited by PSN all the time and I can't wait for things like MGS4, GTA4, and LBP to drop.

I expect a big blowout at GDC, and we'll see if Sony lives up to their potential.

Josh said...

Hmmm Preamcast :)

I really have very little sympathy for the "it's hard to code for" crowd. Of course if you start your project in 360 land and port to PS3 world - it's going to be hard.

So would the reverse.

Thing is, I've never thought that Microsoft's development philosophy of "make it as painless as possible" actually achieves better results in the long run.

So you're right - It's an audience driven problem. The PS3 hasn't had the audience to attract serious exclusive development, so everyone makes MS-style development the priority. With more units in the field, more resources can be devoted to the "problem".

The real issue was that the kinds of titles that the PS3 would excel at are exactly the kinds of titles which publishers want to have low risk, high demographics outcomes. Big budget games don't play to the minority.

Sony's ace in the hole, however, is Blu-Ray. I can watch a little Ratotouille while I wait for GTA4.