Monday, July 03, 2006

The Rant: Get that vacuum cleaner out of my pocket Mr. Kutaragi

"Its probably too cheap." President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment on the $600 pricepoint for the PlayStation 3.

"The first 5 million consumers are going to buy the PS3 even if it didn't have games." Sony Computer Entertainment Europe CEO David Reeves.

Arrogance. That's the first word that popped into my head when I read those comments. I don't know what bothers me more, the fact that Sony thinks their product is a bargain at $600 (lets face it, no one is going to buy the low-grade $500 version) or that SCEA Europe CEO David Reeves is probably right. Yes, Sony has brand loyalty on its side. But is brand loyalty a good thing. As a former PlayStation fanboy who was loyal to a fault my answer is no. Am I saying the PS3 won't be an awesome machine? Am I telling you it won't be worth the money? Am I saying I won't buy one anyway? No. What I'm saying is that gamers need to be smart consumers and not buy something just because of your history with a device or because you feel loyalty to a gaming company. Do you honestly think your loyalty is going to be rewarded? Hell no! Nobody from Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft is going to be sending you a Christmas card thanking you for buying their system. You won't be getting any discounts and reduced prices on games because you've owned a PS1 and a PS2 and are now buying a PS3 and Bill Gates won't be stopping by to play games with you if bought an Xbox and now own a 360.

Gaming manufacturers aren't loyal to you, so you should feel no remorse about switching platforms if you so choose. We all have our personal preferences but when deciding on a next-gen console, here are a few things to consider.

Blu-Ray vs. HD - The biggest reason why Sony is so much more than the Wii and the Xbox 360 is because it can play Blu-Ray DVD's. These players will normally retail for around $1000 so if you're buying a gaming console/Blu-Ray player for $600, its quite a bargain.

The big question: Are DVD's going away anytime soon? If you think DVD's are going the way of VHS tapes within the next year or two, having a Blu-Ray player might be important. But as of right now, there doesn't seem to be a big push in Hollywood for the formats to change. In addition to that, no one in the entertainment industry can seem to make up there minds on whether the new format will be HD or Blu-Ray.

The answer: Right now having a Blu-Ray player just doesn't seem that important when shopping for a gaming console.

Which system is truly next gen? - I'll be honest, I think I initially underestimated the Nintendo Wii. I think its low price point and high curiosity factor will make it a system most gamers will own along with either an Xbox 360 or PS3. Its also, at least visually, not on the next level with Microsoft's or Sony's offerings either. This leaves you, if you're looking for the best gaming console, to choose between the PS3 or 360.

The big question: Which system, if any, is better than the other? I'm leaving the Wii out of this argument because the two heavy hitters are the Xbox 360 and the PS3 pure and simple. But which one is better? I guess that depends on your definition of "better". To me, better means superior graphics, top notch online offerings and a better game library. Since the PS3 isn't out yet this is almost impossible to answer...but lets try. Judging from E3, the graphics on both systems seem almost identical, so that's a push. Sony hasn't given any real details about its online presence, other than to say it will most likely be free. I'm sure they'll take some heavy cues from Microsoft in this department, which would be a very good idea. That leaves us with a better gaming library. Sony has the Gran Turismo and Metal Gear franchises. Microsoft has Halo and it appears Gear of War will be huge. Everything else will be the same. Although the announcement of GTA 4 coming out on both consoles at the same time was huge for Microsoft.

The answer: As of right now these systems don't seem to have any major differences that would make you pick one over the other...except the $200 price difference.

How much do you want to spend? - This is the second most important question you need to ask yourself when choosing a console (I'll get to the most important in a minute). If you spend an extra $200 bucks on the PS3, you're counting on the development of Blu-ray discs and that as time goes on that the more powerful PS3 will eventually make games that are visually superior to the Xbox 360. If you buy an Xbox 360, you believe that the next video disc format is probably another console generation away, like dealing with an online service you know is outstanding and believe that visually both consoles will be more or less equal.

The big question: Which system is a better value?

The answer: That depends on what you want. If you just want to play fun games, its the Wii. If I want something that plays next-gen games and DVD's, I go with the 360. If I believe I'm making an investment in Blu-ray and I have the money, I grab a PS3.

Okay, enough screwing around. How do I choose? - That's easy. The most important factor when buying a gaming console is the games themselves. And this is a question only you can answer. Are you a diehard Metal Gear fanboy and can't live without it? Than the PS3 is for you. Do you like fun, innovative games and love Mario so much you dressed as him for Halloween? You need a Wii. Are you anxiously awaiting Halo 3 more than your wedding day? Grab an Xbox 360.

The big question: Alright Mr. Know-It-All, what do you own?

The answer: I currently own a PS2 and an Xbox 360. My son's getting a Wii for Christmas so this leaves me with the question of the PS3. I'm going to get one for reviews. No, The Gazette doesn't buy consoles for me. I have to buy them on my own. But would I buy one if I didn't have to? Yes, but only after the price drop. Right now there is nothing out there to make me believe that the PS3 is going to be superior to the Xbox 360. The Blu-ray factor just doesn't sway me into spending an extra $200. If they were the same price, that would be a different story. Of course my opinion could change in the coming months and could drastically change after I actually own a PS3. Should any of this matter to you? No. My gaming situation (didn't want to wait for the PS3, had problems with the PS1 and PS2) is probably different than yours. I'm certain that no matter what console you choose will be thouroughly enjoyed. Just don't let brand loyalty sway you. I'd drop my 360 like a bad date if it started to give me problems. I spend too much money on gaming to put up with inferior games or products. I hope you feel the same way.


Skywise said...

Yeah, Sony's been riding high on arrogance for a while now. SO was Nintendo, when they launched the N64, so take that as you will. Nobody dominates this industry forever, ask Sega, or Atari.

Heh, Atari.

Anyway, glad to see you changing your opinion of the Wii.. I think the Wii+360 households are going to be more numerous that people originally thought, and retro gaming is a huge part of that. Nintendo is well geared towards that with their virtual console offerings, whereas Microsoft has been selling classic arcade titles on Live! from almost the beginning.

Still wish SF2: Hyper Fighting'd come out on Live! already.

Kevin Cortez said...

I love Ken's quotes as much as I love Kaz's.

Great post!