Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Console Niche

Over at the Player One forum boards, there was a thread discussing Sony's current PS3 commercial. In the new commercial, Sony tries to sell potential customer's on the PS3's ability to not only play blu ray discs and games, but it's innovated way to download movies and television shows into the home through their PlayStation Network (PSN).

Course, this is not something new, because this has always been a function of the PS3, but since they can't seem to get people to buy it for the blu ray player or the gaming system itself, Sony is trying to entice prospects with the instant gratification of downloading movies and television shows.

Basically, as I see it, Sony doesn't know how to sell the PS3. It does so many things, how can Sony pin it down when trying to market it to the public.

It was selling great as a Blu Ray player, but now that players are under $300.00 it's hard to justify that as a major selling point. If Sony has some decent exclusive games that gamers were just dying to get their hands on, like Gears of War, Halo, or Mario themed games. But those are exclusives for other systems. If a game is released as an exclusive then made available on the PS3 after a few months, then why buy a PS3 when you have an Xbox or Wii?

When Soul Caliber 4 was released on the Xbox and PS3 simultaneously the only difference was that the PS3 had Darth Vader and Xbox 360 had Yoda as playable characters. Now, month's after release, for a small fee, you can download the missing character for either system. So, it wasn't as exclusive as one would have thought. Most games once released for one system, end up eventually on the other system. Bioshock is a great example. Originally for the Xbox 360 systems, it was recently released for the PS3.

So why is Sony marketing the PS3, not as a gaming system, but as a video streaming service? Mainly its because Microsoft recently signed an exclusive deal with Netflix to provide downloadable video content through Microsoft's Xbox 360 live system. Now, all you have to do is select a movie to stream or download and your all set. The new deal lets those with Netflix accounts link them to their Xbox 360 accounts for easier access.

Back in the day, Sony was the king of consoles, but not anymore. They seem confused about how to sell their systems in today's market of downloadable video and game content. They don't seem to have the game exclusives, like Gears of War or Halo, that keep gamers coming back year after year. When those games are mentioned everyone knows they are Xbox 360 exclusives, just like when a Mario is attached to the Nintendo console, a.k. the Wii.

It's not like they don't have exclusive titles, the Ratchet and Clank games are still very strong with the brand, but they just don't have the pull they once did to compete in the next gen race. The Grand Theft Auto franchise use to be a Playstation exclusive, till the Rock Star Games decided it more profitable to release for both systems simultaneously. But Sony is trying. Little Big Planet was a great effort, but they didn't do a marketing push on it before the release and because of that missed opportunity, it didn't sell very well and only now, through word of mouth, is it moving off shelves at all. It's especially sad, because it's a game that could have sold consoles for them, if only they had figured out how to market the PS3.

At least for now, since they can't seem to find the right "Got to have" game to champion the gaming side of the console, it's best to advertise it as a blu ray player and or internet video streaming system. This I feel is the only way they will ever encourage people to buy one. Then, maybe, just maybe, once they get them in the homes, they can tell people they also play games.

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