Breaking News: The PlayStation 3 Didn't Die In 2007
You know, in an industry where media attention can shift on a dime, it's amazing how a situation can become branded in everyone's mind for...well, for an eternity, apparently.
I distinctly recall all the doom and gloom of late 2006 and throughout the first part of 2007, and although most analysts didn't agree with it, the negative articles never stopped. The number of "PlayStation 3 is Doomed!" headlines reminded me very much of 2000 and 2001, when the very same articles - almost word for word - were produced regarding the PS2. I suppose I could focus on this obvious comparison and how the PS2 turned out, but I've already done that, and this is more of a media observation: for whatever reason, despite what happened in 2008 (ship numbers for the PS3 and 360 were basically identical), we apparently view the scenario as if it were still 2007. We still see headlines like, "Can Such-and-Such Save the PS3?" and "Can the PS3 Catch Up?" ...what? What year is this?! Why are we asking questions that no longer have any bearing on the current picture?
The PS3 and 360 are currently almost neck-and-neck. The two systems were throughout most of 2008, and while I won't predict what will happen in 2009, most everyone will agree that the PS3's exclusive lineup is stronger. The overall numbers put the 360 at about 28 million sold and the PS3 at a little over 21 million sold. In terms of new owners in 2008, I still hold to the theory that several million of those 360 owners aren't "new;" they're simply buying another 360 after their console died. Nobody is going to deny the 360's horrendous reliability so wouldn't this be a logical assessment? And anyway, when PS3 sales were struggling along at only a few million in 2007 and the 360 had a year head-start with massive titles like Halo 3 and Gears of War on the way, that was - DUH - a very, very different situation. I'm not bringing up the Wii because it's not competition, as both Sony and Microsoft have already stated. Besides, after Nintendo's 33% decrease that was just reported, what I told everyone would happen is starting to happen: you don't sell hardware with no software.
And yet, despite it all, I'm still seeing articles like "Will Killzone 2 Save the PS3?" I've got a newsflash for you- this is 2009. It's not 2007 and the PS3 didn't die two years ago. The PS3 doesn't need saving. It's locked in a battle with the 360 as every normal human with a functioning brain predicted, and there's no telling how things will end up. I'm not making rash predictions and this isn't a commentary on either system's quality; it's a commentary on how the media and mainstream consumers view the PS3. It holds the taint of a bad late 2006 launch and horrendously negative media attention at the start of 2007. At this rate, when the PS3 and 360 have basically identical userbases (which will happen at some point), we'll still be seeing irrational articles about how the PS3 is somehow still mired in 2007. It's like the thing stepped into the DeLorean, went back in time, and doesn't have the plutonium to return. Seriously.
2/3/2009 Ben Dutka