Buzz Over Sony's 'Big' PlayStation Announcement Trumps Reality

Posted by: Kenji Hall on March 31, 2009

Don’t be surprised if the gaming blogosphere lets out a primal scream of disappointment. After speculating for weeks about what Sony’s videogaming unit was planning to announce this week, bloggers finally got the news—but it wasn’t what many had been hoping for.

On March 31, Sony said it had lowered its suggested retail price for the PlayStation 2 to $99 in North America and 99 euros in Europe. The PS2, which Amazon’s U.S. site lists for $130, has sold more than 136 million units (through December 2008) since its launch in 2000 and is still selling well. In February, Sony sold about 131,000 PS2s in the U.S., according to market researcher NPD’s latest stats. Not bad for a nine-year-old console when the newer PlayStation 3 had sales of just 276,000 units. (By comparison, Nintendo sold 753,000 Wiis and Microsoft 391,000 Xbox 360s). Sony predicts it will sell 8 million PS2 consoles by the March 31 fiscal year end.

For the past week, the blogosphere had whipped itself into a guessing-game frenzy about what Sony could possibly be keeping from us all. Could it be the long-awaited price cut for the PS3? Or some new video-downloads deal? Or maybe a new PlayStation Portable 2 that would go head-to-head with the upcoming North American launch of the latest incarnation of Nintendo’s portable console, the DSi? Or, in a worse-case scenario, a new annual fee that users would have to pay to play games online, like Microsoft’s Xbox Live?

And why was Sony doing this after last week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco? (Theories: Either it was so small Sony worried it would get drowned out by other announcements or so big that Sony felt it deserved to be a standalone.)

Even I finally gave in to the peer pressure and emailed a Sony Computer Entertainment official in Tokyo today to see if there was anything to the rumors. I got what amounted to a head-fake. “The rumor saying we are about to announce something ‘big’ related to PS3 is nothing more than a mere rumor,” the official replied. Misleading, maybe, but not a lie. Thankfully, I decided to wait and see what it was before I joined the fray.

What fascinates me is how adept Sony’s PR machine is at word-of-mouth advertising. All the company has to do is whisper about some imminent unveiling to bloggers at a few gaming sites—and then sit back and watch it spread with viral efficiency. Kotaku’s blurb from last Friday, for instance, drew 168 comments and countless more eyeballs. The problem with planting kernels of information on the Net is the potential letdown when a much-anticipated announcement fails to live up to the hype. The next time the go-to gaming bloggers may feel less inclined to help the buzz.

Reader Comments

usblues

March 31, 2009 3:03 PM

It's been pretty easy to find the PS2 for under $100 online for some time now. In fact I just saw a brand new PS3 for less that $275 the other day: http://www.zingsale.com/item/B001COU9I6/

Michael

March 31, 2009 5:07 PM

Gotta be honest, Sony have probably done themselves some PR damage with this 'cry wolf' annoucement. When they do want to create viral interest in the next 'real news' annoucement, they are going to find themselves struggling to get heard.
That said, PS2 is still a great console and not a lot of people realise that it has HD support... as long as you have component sockets on your TV and the 5 plug lead you can play some games in progressive scan.
As for no price cut on the PS3, I would still reccomend this great system at the current price point. With BluRay and some great looking games such as Killzone2, little big planet, Resistance 1&2, uncharted 1&2, Heavy Rain, god of war 3 and MGS4.... PS3 really is the console for serious gamers.

Todd_Bridges

March 31, 2009 7:04 PM

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Ted

April 1, 2009 2:45 AM

Michael, do you work for Sony's PR dept. ?? ;)

Cmoney

April 1, 2009 3:24 AM

Michael - You are one the members of the sony defense force that were hoodwinked into buying the most expensive console in gaming history. Ironically, it also has the least games and has cost sony 5 billion dollars of debt.

Teoh Yi Chie

April 1, 2009 9:18 AM

The rumours are destroying the sales of the PS3. Who would go out and buy the PS3 knowing/believing there's going to be a price cut soon? I belong to that group.

WorthIt

April 1, 2009 11:53 AM

Cmoney, I would rather be known for buying the most expensive console (that has a ton of fun and useful features) than buying the most poorly designed and defective console in gaming history.

Let me put it in simpler terms for you. I would rather be known for buying a Ferarri 599 GTB than a Ford Pinto.

For that price point, what other gaming console can you get that matches it feature for feature?

Don't bother answering, because we both know you can't.

Sure you can get cheaper consoles that don't have WiFi out of the box, allolw you to upgrade by buying over-priced proprietary hard drives, contain old HDMI specifications, offer no BlueTooth support, force you to use an ugly power brick that sits on the floor, ruin your movie experiences with a DVD drive that sounds like a jet when it starts up and to top it all off, has a failure rate higher than playing Russian Roulette.

Sure you can buy that but do you have no dignity?

Heck if you really wanted a pure gaming console using yesterday's technology, why don't you pick up a a used DreamCast? At least you could count on it working every time you turned it on.

Gamer

April 1, 2009 11:42 PM

PS3 is for the smart consumer.
Ever look at craigslist ads for XBOX 360s? People have spent hundreds buying mediocre accessories and cooling blocks, oh yeah, and the memorable $200 HD DVD player.
Sony is well packaged value.
Like WorthIt says, add up the wifi, xbox live, and non-compete features like six axis, bluetooth, blu-ray, and the best controller form factor in video game history, and you can't beat it. Add to that true upnp, etc. media streaming support, not media center, and the fact that it's scalable with non-proprietary harddrives, and it's an easy choice.

This is NOT the neo-geo folks! This is not an overpriced niche market item. Games cost the same and hardware is competitive once you factor in the extras. The elite market is pc gaming and $500 blu-ray players, not the PS3.

Look, the XBOX 360 is a great console for a kid that you don't want online and who doesn't have an HD TV in his room. Even if you're that guy who just pops in a video game 20 times a year, remember this can be your blu-ray player(though I concede not the best),media receiver for your home, and living room web browser.

This is your one stop shop item folks!

nick

April 2, 2009 1:56 AM

That one stop shop you call your ps3 is a great device. Sure you have blu-ray playback but I would rather rip my blu-rays to a hard drive and have instant playback ($99 on a computer blu-ray drive).

Media streaming is the bread and butter of the xbox and playstation is just joining that party. Since neither the xbox 360 or ps3 has native mkv support, serious downloaders will agree that the popcorn a-110 or htpc in our living room still takes that cake.

You can complain about the fees of xbox live, but the online experience is unmatched by playstations offerings. Add in the PS3's limited game selection and the xbox 360 is the smart choice at $199 or $140 on dell.com

mike

April 2, 2009 2:06 AM

PS3 is for the smart consumer.
>> Blu-ray movies are overpriced, smart consumers look for value and we haven't reached that point with BD discs.

Ever look at craigslist ads for XBOX 360s? People have spent hundreds buying mediocre accessories and cooling blocks, oh yeah, and the memorable $200 HD DVD player.
>> You got us on the HD DVD player, but I went the smart consumer route and picked up the combo hd dvd / blu-ray drive for my pc so I can rip either movie format for permanent storage.

Sony is well packaged value.
Like WorthIt says, add up the wifi, xbox live, and non-compete features like six axis, bluetooth, blu-ray, and the best controller form factor in video game history, and you can't beat it.
>> Any serious gamer has gigabit ethernet running through their house and would laugh at the thought of using wifi. Form factor is all up to personal preference, but if I had to bet on whether a ps3 controller or xbox controller would break in a 20ft drop I think we all know who'd win.

Add to that true upnp, etc. media streaming support, not media center, and the fact that it's scalable with non-proprietary harddrives, and it's an easy choice.
>> Xbox has been doing media streaming since day 1 with the original xbox. Having a few TBs of movies to stream over the home network might be new for playstation owners, but this has always been the major advantage with the xbox.

Look, the XBOX 360 is a great console for a kid that you don't want online and who doesn't have an HD TV in his room. Even if you're that guy who just pops in a video game 20 times a year, remember this can be your blu-ray player(though I concede not the best),media receiver for your home, and living room web browser.
>> Well unfortunately the Xbox 360 and PS3 output at 1080p via HDMI so that comment is pretty ridiculous. As far as which console offers superior graphics it really depends on the game since GPU specs are about even. Having used my original xbox to stream media content through my home for years this comment just shows how little you know about the console.

BestOfBoth

April 2, 2009 2:06 AM

I have owned a Wii (sold), and now I have a PS3 and Xbox360 of which I currently play neither. Game consoles are dead. Let's hope OnLive sets us free from this bull shit hype and speculation. Leave the toys for the children. I want to play games.

PS3 is ridiculous

April 2, 2009 2:34 AM

Regardless of features, the PS3 is supposed to be a gaming system. But how good can a gaming system be without any games?

Also

April 2, 2009 2:38 AM

To Worthit: Being known for buying the most expensive gaming console doesn't make your penis any bigger. Comparing it to an exotic sports car is just well... pathetic.

Anon

April 2, 2009 5:16 AM

A 360 fan supports "their" console and is labeled as a "smart, price conscience, serious gamer".

A PS3 fan supports "their" console and is labeled as a "retarded, over indulgent, wiener".

You guys need to grow the hell up. Both systems do what they were designed to do.

Yes, the XBOX is cheaper. It also is inferior in design quality and "features" (features which are labeled as nonsensical by 360 owners).

Yes, the PS3 is more expensive. It is also known that the PSN isnt up to par with XBOXlive.

A pissing match that Im pretty sure EVERYONE is tired of being involved in.

Anon

April 2, 2009 5:16 AM

A 360 fan supports "their" console and is labeled as a "smart, price conscience, serious gamer".

A PS3 fan supports "their" console and is labeled as a "retarded, over indulgent, wiener".

You guys need to grow the hell up. Both systems do what they were designed to do.

Yes, the XBOX is cheaper. It also is inferior in design quality and "features" (features which are labeled as nonsensical by 360 owners).

Yes, the PS3 is more expensive. It is also known that the PSN isnt up to par with XBOXlive.

A pissing match that Im pretty sure EVERYONE is tired of being involved in.

Resisfutal

April 2, 2009 5:45 AM

Just because your cars speedometer goes to 140mph doesn't mean that everyone will be going that fast. The ps3 is no different. Did Sony pass out big screen hdtvs when you bought there premium device? Or did you have to spend an additional $1000.00+ for a half decent display for those double the priced blu-ray DVDs. Defend your purchase all you want and claim to be a smart consumer. The numbers tell the real story. Sony is in third place for a reason, true? But don't feel too bad Sony seems to be in deniel too.

ElrictheFullMetal

April 2, 2009 7:13 AM

I own both consoles, XboX 360 and PS3 (just got 40 gig model recently).
I will be honest, i think ps3 is better, but then on weekends i spend most of time playing Xbox 360 games , only reason PS3 is definitely lacking decent games.
However with God of War 3 coming to PS3 i am pretty sure i have something to look forward to.
So far as PSN is concerned i think its mediocre compared to Xbox live.
However when i compare Xbox 360 visuals with PS3, honestly PS3 visuals are far superior, there is no comparison.
I know PS3 got the hardware better than most gaming consoles, lets just hope some decent releases show up, Sony should worry more about quality games for PS3 now rather than figuring how to sell there consoles first.
For example : I am pretty sure many God of War fans will purchase PS3 console just to play God of War 3 but it would be stupid that they dont have other options after they finish God of War 3.

Sean

April 2, 2009 7:30 AM

Well...some people like Ferrari, some people like Hyundai..so what is the big deal...i have all 3 consoles...i play great games on them. I don't care who is 1st 0r 3rd....what do i get out of it. PS3 definitely more reliable than xbox360...

Ps3 Phenom

April 2, 2009 9:16 AM

I'm so sick of the only excuse for playstation haters is "is they dont have any games"...How long has it been out?...How many games did the the 360 have out at the time of the PS3 release?..Look point is that the Broke box not X-Box is not reliable, they use kiddy avatars and lets keep it real here it can not compete, online service maybe but Home is creeping up fast!! Watch out Broke Box fans, PS3 is here to stay, at least you have another overpriced console to look foward to in the holiday season of 2010, then lets talk about the most priced gaming system in history

alphaneuron1

April 2, 2009 9:34 AM

gymer.wordpress.com

I do think the biggest difference between Sony and Microsoft is their PR status. Look at the comments on this page, and you can tell that the PR war is in favour of Microsoft.

Many of the arguments against the PS3 are no longer true. Yet the press (and consequently, pro-360 gamers) repeat them.

For example, the statement that XBL is superior to PSN. Not any more! There are ONLY two closely-related features in which XBL is better: cross-game chatting and invites. PSN has become better in every other way. But the perceptions about XBL vs PSN were formed in 2006-2007 and haven't changed.

Another commenter spoke of lack of games for the PS3. This one has been beaten to death, and even pro-360 gamers admit that the PS3 has caught up in that aspect. Looking forward in 2009, there seems to be a distinct lack of games for the 360. Again, it's a case of 2007 news being used in 2009 arguments.

The power of the PS3 is best illustrated by comments from Mike. To get the features the PS3 provides, he had to combine his 360, PC and a (probably very expensive) combo HD-DVD & Blu-Ray drive. The drive alone must have costed almost as much as a PS3. If that's not an argument in the PS3's favour, I don't know what is.

alphaneuron1

April 2, 2009 9:52 AM

I just posted a comment about how the only features XBL has that PSN doesn't are cross-game chatting and invites.

Strike that. The just-released 2.70 firmware upgrade for the PS3 includes cross-game chatting in up to three rooms.

Jamester

April 2, 2009 10:10 AM

I'm really a PS3 fan above all else, but these are tough times. People have different opinions and most of them stink. I'm glad enough that there is competition. At least it guarantees that all parties, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo won't be taking it easy. They'll all be motivated to crank out quality games as well as quality machines. (But the 360 machine really needs some serious redesigning while PSN needs to mature) Wii on the other hand, I'm ok with it. It's really the crazed fans from all camps who make some nasty namecalling against each other that truly sucks. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are all just laughing from their high horses at all the lemmings arguing about these things day in day out. Fighting over these consoles on the Internet is like winning the special Olympics. At the end of the day, you're still all retarded. Quit the yappin and start playing!!!

LW

April 2, 2009 11:24 AM

Forgot 360, forgot PS3, the best console is the original X-Box soft-modded and with XBMC installed. Trust me, no one has ever regretted getting XBMC on their X-Box.

wanderson75

April 2, 2009 1:29 PM

AAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Sony pulls the biggest April Fools Ever!!! :-D

Scooby

April 2, 2009 2:50 PM

I get a kick out of the console wars. I have all three systems and they all have there pros and cons. But I have to say I play the 360 a whole lot more. I think the replay value of online video gaming is the reason. All the PS3 fanboys that complain because you have to pay for online are nuts. Who cares if you have to pay between $3.00 ($38.99 at Amazon for 13 months) and $3.85 a month ($49.99 everywhere else for 13 months). Thats so insignificant it's less than one movie rental and its much more fun.
Also Microsoft was smart to keep costs down and let the consumer pick the extras. Even though it costs more feature for feature, it is only a good value if you use all the features.

Example: Say a movie theater only sells there tickets, ($7.50) combined with popcorn, ($5.75) a drink, ($4.50)and candy ($1.50) for $16.00 (That would be $3.25 cheaper than the theater that lets you choose the extras). Would you go to that theater if you didn't want all the extras even though it was a better value?

The Blu Ray player is not a driving factor for the PS3 now that stand alone players are cheaper. And the majority of people buy a game console to play games.

The Wii is only fun if you have a group of family or friends to enjoy it with you and I play this the least. I think everybody was buying the Wii because of the hype, but the replay value is not there and the sales will start to slow soon. My final thought. The 360 was smart in making the console as cheap as possible and letting the consumer pick the extras.

My final thought: The true test for a good game system is this. With all the problems that the 360 has had, people continue to buy it and pay for online service. In my opinion that says, its a hell of a lot of fun to play. The PS3 doesn't have those problems but the sales are dropping. Go figure!! Maybe that will change down the road, but for now I think the 360 is the best value hands down.

Jamester

April 2, 2009 3:17 PM

I'm really a PS3 fan above all else, but these are tough times. People have different opinions and most of them stink. I'm glad enough that there is competition. At least it guarantees that all parties, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo won't be taking it easy. They'll all be motivated to crank out quality games as well as quality machines. (But the 360 machine really needs some serious redesigning while PSN needs to mature) Wii on the other hand, I'm ok with it. It's really the crazed fans from all camps who make some nasty namecalling against each other that truly sucks. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are all just laughing from their high horses at all the lemmings arguing about these things day in day out. Fighting over these consoles on the Internet is like winning the special Olympics. At the end of the day, you're still all retarded. Quit the yappin and start playing!!!

Booger

April 2, 2009 6:16 PM

Completely agree with Teoh Yi Chie. With regard to that price cut it's got to be 100 as all the rumors have speculated for me to buy in this crappy economy. 50 dollars will do nothing for me; I know its great system but with the current economic climate it has made people question principles. 400 dollars just for the gamming system, that's some peoples rent! Add a game another controller people fee guilty and nervous for buying something that is solely a want and very very far from a need. Though when they do cut it 299, the PS3 in the end of this cycle of gaming i.e. 8-10 years will win in the numbers but the wii will be close, just my opinion.

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