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 State of the PlayStation

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PostSubject: State of the PlayStation   Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:05 am

To date, PlayStation 3 has sold about 14.5 million units worldwide. This is in a span of 21 months (nearly two years) from the November 2006 launch until now, early August of 2008. This isn't bad for a console that launched with a MSRP of $500 to $600 per SKU, but in the same time period it has been only half of Wii's sales which presently sit at 30.4 million.

This is pretty pathetic on PlayStation 3's part because Sony has a much larger fanbase than Nintendo does, by far. To date, PlayStation 2 has sold 140 million units; ten times what PS3 presently sits at, meaning that Sony has only managed to convince 10% of their fanbase to upgrade to the PlayStation 3. Nintendo had only sold 21.7 million GameCubes, and yet Wii sales are already roughly 150% of that figure less than two years into its life cycle. Microsoft isn't seeing figures approaching 150% like Nintendo has, but they are still fairing much better than Sony, as they sold 24 million Xboxes during the last generation and have nearly matched that number with the Xbox 360, having sold 20 million Xbox 360s, which comes out to about 83% of the sales of their previous platform, and it's going on three years old with probably at least two more years to go.

So, to recap:
PlayStation 3 - 10% of PS2's userbase has converted to PS3 ownership
Xbox 360 - 83% of Xbox's userbase has converted to 360 ownership
Wii - 150% of GCN's userbase has converted to Wii ownership

Those figures aren't looking so good for Sony's PlayStation 3. Wii in particular is kicking the crap out of it in sales, and without flashy graphics, hordes of extra features, or even a massive library of great games (Wii has a few great games, but most are shovelware). The Wii has an advantage in that it offers unique and entertaining gameplay through its unique motion controller, which far surpasses the Sixaxis functionality Sony tacked on for PlayStation 3 at basically the last moment, but without a doubt a huge factor is price.

Even with Sony selling PlayStation 3s for less than what they actually spent manufacturing them, for combined losses exceeding $3.3 billion to date, Sony still isn't pricing these things low enough for the vast majority of their fanbase to shell out the cash to buy one, and this is a problem that is going to remain for Sony until the price falls dramatically. I've argued with so many fanboys over the past two years, fanboys that again and again argued that the price "isn't too much", but I think the numbers speak for themselves. (See figures above.)

Sony loves to spin things and completely make up BS for damage control, like when they scoffed at force feedback (rumble) and tried convincing gamers that it was a "last-gen feature" and was actually a bad thing that they should be happy to be rid of, only to later turn around and add it to their DualShock 3 controllers. More relevant, they like to talk about ten-year plans, as though PS3's relatively poor sales are okay because PS3 will be selling ten years later, but most consoles don't sell ten years later and the only ones that do are systems like the PSX and PS2, which lived on so well only because of their overwhelming market dominance. If PS3 doesn't build that level of dominance when PS4 arrives in 2011 or 2012 at the latest, there's little reason to expect sales of PS3 to continue much beyond that.

PS3 doesn't look to be dropping into the affordability range any time soon, so right now I'd be surprised if PS3 sees sales of 60 million units by 2011. Yes, the price will probably fall a bit between now and then, but at the rate it's going it won't likely be falling enough to see PSX or PS2 type sales. To do that, you have to drop below $200 after maybe a few years and closer to $100 or so within four or five years, but right now it's looking like $300 might be more like it by 2011, and the majority of gamers still won't be paying that.

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