Blu-ray victory likely to boost PS3 sales
Will Sony's struggling game system thrive from the death of HD-DVD?
Toshiba's official surrender in the high-definition movie format war this week could very well solidify a Sony comeback in the video game console conflict.
Sony's PlayStation 3 has traveled an extremely rocky road from its pre-launch campaign to its initial year in the market. Critics have continually condemned the company's marketing decisions, which include controversial ads (labeled everything from disturbing to racist), misleading product demos, and not reining in the arrogant comments of Sony execs. And that's all before the PS3 even hit the shelves.
Once the console did arrive in November 2006, it was condemned as expensive, lacking compelling software, and hosting a poor online service compared to Microsoft's Xbox 360. Sony has long held a dominant position in the game space (its predecessor PlayStation 2 has sold 120 million units worldwide), but the newest console has lagged in third against its two immediate peers.
But finally, Sony can lay claim to a month with two heavy-hitting positive news items. The first: Data tracking service NPD Group released the retail sales numbers for January, and the PlayStation 3 console outsold the Xbox 360 for the very first time. (Microsoft rebutted that the total revenue for Xbox 360 hardware, software, and accessories combined did exceed both the PS3 and Nintendo Wii.)
And now, with the HD-DVD format raising the white flag, Sony can feel vindicated in its choice to force the cost of Blu-ray onto gaming consumers with the PlayStation 3.
Blu-ray disc sales were undoubtedly boosted when Sony ensured the early adopter gaming audience--a natural crossover for early adopters in home movie viewing--received the "bonus" of a cheap Blu-ray player with its PS3 purchase. Blu-ray outnumbered HD-DVD sales two to one early in the war and various movie studios and rental services gradually dropped their HD-DVD support.
And with Blu-ray the crowned champion, many on-the-fence hi-def consumers will now finally take the plunge -- and inevitably, they will find the PS3 a perfect value option given its comparatively cheap cost as a Blu-ray player with the substantial benefit of its media center and gaming functions.
Microsoft released an official statement Monday that had a slight whiff of defensiveness to it. "We do not believe the recent reports about HD DVD will have any material impact on the Xbox 360 platform or our position in the marketplace," said the statement. "As we've long stated, we believe it is games that sell consoles and Xbox 360 continues to have the largest next-gen games library with the most exclusives and best selling games in the industry."
With these recent developments and very strong PlayStation 3 exclusives looming (Metal Gear Solid 4, Gran Turismo 5, LittleBigPlanet), what would have been said as a joke just a year ago can now be offered with sincerity: Is the PlayStation 3 poised to be the definitive new leader in the next-gen war?
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