Would It Be So Terrible If Sony's PS4 Was Late To The Party?
I think it's an interesting question, and a legitimate one.
We all know that it hurt Sony to launch the PlayStation 3 over a year after Microsoft had made the Xbox 360 available. But in truth, I think a lot of that was due to the fact that the PS3's launch was borderline ridiculous; a $600 machine with little in the way of convincing software, Blu-Ray unconfirmed as the high-definition winner, the PlayStation Network still in its infancy, etc.
Sometimes I wonder what might've happened had the PS3 debuted at the same time - over a year behind the 360 - with more going for it (cheaper price tag, for one). And if you look at the worldwide sales numbers, the PS3 and 360 are essentially tied in terms of overall hardware sales. That means Sony's machine sold as many units in 6 years as the 360 sold in over 7 years. This includes the catch-up process during the first year or two that featured nothing but a whole lot of PS3 hate headlines.
So with the PS3 really shining in its prime (as Sony has said; they believe the system is "hitting its stride" right now), would it be so terrible if the new Xbox dropped next year and the PS4 didn't show up until 2014? Look at the upcoming software for the PS3; yes, the shiny new 720 will do great things, I'm sure, but PS3 owners aren't exactly getting yesterday's chewed meat with the likes of The Last Of Us, Beyond: Two Souls, and Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes (yes, I'm aware the latter is multiplatform). Thing is, the PS3 has something left while I think we've seen all the 360 can do.
Besides, Sony has also said the most profitable time of the previous generation came after the PS3 launched. The PS2 was cheap, there were a ton of games for it, and they were coming off nearly 6 years of domination. We can't really say the PS3 "dominated," but we can certainly say it'll be cheaper and it'll have a very large library of games, which is catnip for consumers. Plus, with gaming being more mainstream than ever, not every human alive is up on the cutting-edge tech. The PS3's attractive price tag in the face of the new 720 could be fantastic for Sony, wouldn't you think?
Lastly, let's not forget that Sony has had significant financial difficulties as of late. Launching a new piece of gaming hardware has never proven lucrative for Sony; in fact, it always takes a few years to even reach profitability. Considering all this, maybe it's actually preferable for the PS4 to come out later. I know I'd be fine with that.
9/4/2012 9:05:06 PM Ben Dutka