Editorial: Pick A Model And Go With It, Sony
Seriously. This constant barrage of new PlayStation 3 models needs to stop, and it needs to stop soon. Despite the system's newfound momentum and the fact the PS3 has the strongest software lineup for 2008 (it's a fact, people), this model-juggling is not going over well with consumers. Plain and simple.
As much as I hate to see it, a lot of the PC gaming world has been rubbing off on the console world. One of the biggest advantages of playing your games on consoles in the past was extremely obvious to every gamer: you never have to upgrade the hardware. You can drop the initial investment (which remains a fraction of what a quality PC gaming rig would cost), and never have to pay another dime for "upgrades" for the next 5-7 years. To start this new generation, Sony greeted consumers with two PlayStation 3 models to choose from, which was an immediate mistake. Not surprisingly, the 20GB model dropped off the radar very quickly; nobody wanted the thing. Then came the 80GB model in mid-2007, which added 20 gigs worth of hard drive space but shipped without that nifty graphics synthesizer chip found in the 60GB model. Yeah, that means no more full backwards compatibility for PS2 games. That's a major deal, primarily because there are 120 million PS2s sitting in homes around the world.
Then came the 40GB model, which worked out very well...but not because it was a different model. No, it worked out because it was $100 cheaper than any previous PS3 model, and that's the only reason. Now, rumors of a 120GB model are plastered all over the Internet (GameStop claims it's a fact), and to be honest, I have no idea what Sony is doing. I was one of the few who supported Sony throughout this whole process, and with the PS3 coming up all roses lately, I definitely feel vindicated in my beliefs. Their marketing strategy has always worked with the PlayStation brand, and there's no getting around that fact. Therefore, I believed in both Sony and the PS3 right off the bat. When examining a company's position, we're always supposed to look at its history regarding similar products...do that, and I can't see how any rational human would believe the PS3 wouldn't survive and flourish. But this jumping around with a bunch of different models is counterproductive. It needs to stop.
Look, you've got two kinds of people who shop for a PS3: gamers, and those who are looking for a gift for a gamer. The latter group's eyes glaze over when an employee starts to lay down statistics, and the eyes glaze further when multiple models are involved. Eventually, they just lose interest. The gamer, especially long-time console gamers, aren't so interested in dropping the money for a new system when there are rumors of yet another model soon arriving on the market. Bottom line? You get a lot of people who are waiting until Sony settles on a model, and at this rate, they may never do that. They've said in the past that they will "continue to evaluate market trends" in each territory, and then issue new PS3 models accordingly. This is the only part of their marketing strategy that I disagree with, but it's significant. Worst of all, every last one of the models that came out after the original 60GB model can be considered "gimped," even though they do cost less. This isn't an ideal situation for either Sony or the consumer.
Sony, please: just pick a model and go with it. If you want to have a permanent option or something - I don't mind the idea of having 2 SKUs on store shelves, provided they stay the same - then fine. But this process of continually implementing all new models is starting to wear on me...and others.
3/4/2008 Ben Dutka