While we wait to hear what Phil Harrison has to reveal during his keynote speech at GDC next week (which Three Speech will be covering with regular updates throughout the day), we thought we’d offer you another piece from one of Three Speech’s contributors - Stuart X Pearce (Editor of www.thedigitalgamer.com).
The date is set. The launch games are confirmed. We even know how much an official HDMI cable will cost (if not precisely what HDMI stands for). But what does March 23rd mean for the PlayStation brand, and most importantly, for gamers?
How can Sony ensure the only Third Place in their corporate history is the enigmatic, ethereal gaming world created in PlayStation 2 marketing and not also where PlayStation 3 ended up at the end of its proposed ten year lifespan, behind its two previously-trounced competitors?
For Sony, the road to Europe has been a long and pretty hostile one. From copious amounts of Fear Uncertainty and Doubt being thrown from all sides, the ‘premium’ price point-induced gasps and the forum-igniting Blu-ray situation – it hasn’t been easy. But now, Sony are finally ready to let Europe in on their high gloss, high power, high definition secret.
PlayStation’s past, present and future
Sony has dominated the last two hardware generations through a combination of technical superiority, culturally-synergised marketing (PlayStation pods running Wipeout in the Ministry of Sound’s chill out room, who’d have thought?) and extraordinarily broad third party support that is more potent today than ever before. The Guitar Hero and Buzz franchises delivering mass-market success before other companies even considered courting the casual, non-typical gamer.
To win the hearts and minds of gamers this time around and to ensure PlayStation 3 outsells its generational peers, Sony need to not only get all the basic stuff right but must also tap into the gaming consciousness like never before, as well as spread the PlayStation 3 message beyond the traditional user base.
The power of PlayStation
What are PlayStation 3’s Unique Selling Propositions for this generation, and how can Sony ensure its latest home console usurps its increasingly bold and accomplished competitors?
Hardware - seeing the PlayStation 3 for the first time is an overwhelming experience. It’s the largest home console in recent memory, but remains refined and desirable. It will dominate your living room but you will likely be happy to green light its imposition. It maintains and builds upon the industrial and obilisque-inspired design cues from PS2 and combined with its imposing footprint, ensures it is the most intriguing and dominant example of this generation’s hardware.
The reliability and safety issues that have plagued Sony’s competitors this generation also seem to be thankfully absent from the new hardware. But for £425, that is to be expected.
Software - today’s software publishers are becoming increasingly platform-agnostic. Great for gamers who are limited to one machine and for journalists to draw comparisons between platforms, but not so great for hardware manufacturers looking to differentiate their product within a confusing and crowded market.
As broad and compelling at the PlayStation 3’s software line-up is, Sony have only a few platform-exclusive titles at launch. Resistance: Fall of Man, Motorstorm and Virtua Fighter 5 look set to appease the hardcore though and the PlayStation Store is full of potential to begin competing with the rest, who sometimes struggle to offer robust, relevant and value-for-money experiences.
Functionality - the cost of the PlayStation 3 is a whole other blog post, but the most expensive console ever is in fact great value for money, just not so much if you don’t have a broadband connection, an HDTV or a desire to build a Blu-ray collection or store 60GBs of your digital media.
Its power is being hinted at by titles such as Motorstorm which some say is like ‘looking through a window onto the desert’ and as developers begin to grasp it’s potential, it will almost certainly deliver ground-breaking graphical and gameplay experiences – we just don’t have specific dates yet.
With the daring and controversial specification of the PlayStation 3, Sony have taken a risk that has to pay off. A bold statement of intent that they hope will future-proof their third home console for the next ten years and allow them to rapidly move beyond The Third Place in the European next-gen console race.
The UK launch of the PlayStation 3 is under a month away - Sony need to build their relationship with previously-snubbed European potential early adopters, to display just how powerful the PlayStation 3 is and also successfully differentiate it within the most competitive, varied and thriving videogame market there has ever been.
Gamers have never had it so good, and Sony have never had so much to offer, but also, so much to prove. Oh, and HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface if you were still wondering – the cable is yours for £17.99.
By Stuart X Pearce
In: Uncategorized by: Three Speech @ 1:23 pm