I had a look at vgchartz this morning, and I was a little dismayed to see the Playstation 3 (PS3) sale numbers falling behind the Xbox 360 and (well behind) the Wii.
The PS3 is my favourite current generation console; I really feel that Sony has generally got it right (which is something they aren’t really known for recently) from a consumer perspective. (There are many things they have done from a developer perspective, but I won’t go into that here).
I don’t want people thinking that I am a subjective “fanboy“, so I should mention that I own all three current generation consoles and I never expected that the PS3 would be my favourite.
Here’s a list of things that I feel Sony did right with the PS3:
- Good-looking unit (all current consoles look pretty good, Xbox360 power-supply notwithstanding)
- Elegant user interface (with consistent UI resolution, unlike Xbox360 in which UI resolution changes between elements and when playing videos)
- Built-in wifi and bluetooth (compared to no wifi and custom RF wireless on the Xbox 360)
- Built-in rechargable batteries (compared to AA batteries on other consoles)
- 1080p output via HDMI (recent higher-end Xbox360 consoles come with HDMI)
- Blu-Ray (clearly this hasn’t gone mainstream yet, but the video quality is awesome on a large LCD television)
- No charge for online play (although publishers can charge subscriptions)
- Region-free games (although Blu-Ray is region locked)
- No “points” scam (Playstation Store items are sold in local currency and you can pay the exact amount)
- DLNA UPnP media server compatible (I can stream videos stored on my ReadyNAS Duo)
- Rather quiet (especially compared to the Xbox360)
- Standard upgradeable HDD
- Official Linux support (I guess they figured it would happen anyway)
And here a bunch of things that the PS3 does wrong:
- High cost of entry (compared to other consoles)
- Tilt sensor on SIXAXIS and DualShock 3 controllers is gimmicky and generally unused (avoided)
- No longer features backwards compatibility with Playstation 2 (this was a selling point for me, although I doubt it bothered a lot of consumers)
- Firmware updates and game patches are too frequent for casual users (It feels like I often have to patch a game before I can play it; this is the same for the Xbox360 though)
- Seems to have less video codecs compared to the Xbox360 (sometimes I can use the Xbox360 to play files that the PS3 won’t play)
- No RSX access in Linux (I guess they were concerned about hacking, but this severely cripples Linux on PS3 and compromises a potential developer base)
The list of things I feel the Xbox360 has done wrong is much longer, and the list for the Wii is shorter but much more of a big deal to me (maximum resolution of 480p?!).
The last thing I want to mention is that I feel that the PS3 is a good value proposition for people who want a neat and practical lounge room setup. To me that means:
- Not having to deal with heaps of devices (eg. receiver, set-top box, DVD player, console, etc.)
- Not having to deal with batteries
- Not having wires run all over the place (especially not between rooms)
- Not too noisy
Compared to the Xbox360: the PS3 has a built-in Blu-Ray (and DVD) player, it’s much quieter, it has a nicer user interface (try playing a bunch of videos one after the other on the Xbox36), and it connects wirelessly to my other devices (without a $149.95 add-on).
Basically, Sony went for real (rather than perceived) value with the PS3. There is a higher entry price, but they don’t keep slogging you for money (with overpriced accessories, online gaming subscriptions, “points” that you can only buy in bulk, etc.). This is good for people (like me) who want a setup like the one above.
Here’s a price comparison once you take all of that stuff into account:
- Playstation 3 80GB: $699
- Xbox 360 60GB or 120GB Elite ($399-$549) + Wireless Networking Adaptor ($149.95) + Play & Charge Kit ($34.95) + Xbox Live GOLD 12 Month subscription ($79.95) + Blu-Ray player (>$200): $863.85-$1013.85
Completely aside from price, there are things that money will never buy: not having all that extra crap in your living room, not having a power-brick, not playing games to the loud hum and whir of the 360…
Anyhow, I don’t want to lay the boot in too much.
Bottom Line: The Playstation 3 is elegant, neat, tidy, and ticks more of my boxes than any other console. Unfortunately, Sony’s “value proposition” doesn’t appear to resonate with consumers. Maybe they should have gone with the Microsoft strategy of a lower apparant cost with more upsells: “Would you like wifi with that?”