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I Heard That Before

June 13, 2006

Back in the day, during the 1990s, I had a free subscription to Sega Visions magazine. When the Saturn was released, they had a cover story praising the Saturn. One of its main points was that "you should buy the Saturn because we, Sega, made it." They were dismissing Sony because they were a newcomer to the video game industry, while Sega had more than 15 years of experience in that business. I found that attitude very arrogant on Sega's part. However, I eventually bought the Saturn anyway because I believed in Sega and I liked its games. Of course, what ended up happening was that Sony ended up eating Sega's lunch and, in time, Sega exited the home console business.

And now, Sony executives are saying similar things about the PlayStation 3. That it doesn't matter if there won't be many games for it at launch. That it's not too expensive. That people would buy it even if it didn't have any games for it. That people will buy it because it's made by Sony. Haven't I heard that before?

Remember, on a video game system, it's all about the games. The PSP's screen is gorgeous, but most of its games are ports of PlayStation games. And while movies might look good on that screen, why would I buy movies on Sony's proprietary format, since DVDs are already a standard, play on more devices, have more options, and cost the same? No wonder the Nintendo DS is outselling it by a large margin in Japan. In the US, where people care more about graphics, the PSP is selling better, but it's not taking over the portable market.

Anyway, I might be wrong. Remember that I predicted the Dreamcast would save Sega, which obviously did not happen. And I never really liked Sony. You have a right to be skeptical of everything I say. But traditionally, consoles that launched on the price range of the PlayStation 3, like the 3DO and the Neo Geo, have never been very successful.

Besides, it's not even like there is much of a difference between the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The PlayStation 3's graphics look only slightly better, at least from the screenshots I have seen. Is that worth 200 more dollars? At least the Neo Geo looked a lot better than the consoles which were popular at the time, the Super Nintendo and the Genesis. And look where that took them.

And don't tell me the addition of Blue Ray makes the PlayStation 3 worth it. There is no way in hell I'm going to invest in a Blue Ray player at this time. I'm not buying a next generation DVD player until a clear winner emerges. I was lucky enough to choose VHS instead of Beta when VCRs were popular. I am not risking buying a potentially dead-end technology again. And besides, there are many obscure movies that I want to buy which are not even available on standard DVD yet. I don't really need another video format.

Atari was arrogant and they eventually failed. Sega was arrogant and they eventually failed. Now Sony is arrogant. We'll see what happens. If the PlayStation 3 were made by any other company besides Sony, I would say the PlayStation 3 will be the next 3DO. But considering how much goodwill and pull Sony has right now, I now say the PlayStation 3 will be the next Nintendo 64. It will sell reasonably well, but Sony will lose a lot of market share.


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