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Is Sony the Apple of Gaming?

Posted by: Matt Vella on March 23

Or is it Nintendo (NTDOY)? Or maybe even, yes, Microsoft (MSFT)?

Fooling around with my Playstation 3’s built-in photo visualizer this afternoon, the question struck me. Generally, Sony’s (SNE) Playstation user interface, which is common between the PS3 and PSP, has all the grace and panache of Mac OS X. And, likewise, the quirky coolness of the photo viewer is as refined as anything coming out of Cupertino. (See example video below.)

However obnoxious asking “is blank the Apple (AAPL) of blank” may be, it’s an interesting question insofar as it helps draw the distinctions between the big three game-makers’ chosen strategies. In a year where the hardware contest between these manufacturers will finally be fought on a relatively level playing field, it’s also a way of sizing up the strengths of each machine. More interesting yet, each company has a claim on Apple-esque strengths. Briefly:

Nintendo: Disruptive Innovator
This is likely the most obvious comparison. Apple and Nintendo both have innovation in their corporate DNA, visible and vocal designers at the top, and a penchant for sleek, uber-simple hardware. Indeed, blog readers and I have had a spirited exchange about this, particularly in relation to the two companies’ stock here. But more-so, the Wii and iPhone will both be long remembered as two crucially influential consumer electronics devices that announced the arrival of disruptive user interface technologies, the accelerometer — or motion sensor — and touch.

Sony: Media Master
Sony’s had a few rough years. But, all the pieces seem to have fallen into place for ‘08. (Everybody is asking ebulliently is this Sony’s year, including Sony.) More importantly, Sony, like Apple, has a facility with media that translates into sleek user interfaces more polished than either Microsoft’s or Nintendo’s. Both companies have also had a propensity for tenaciously backing media formats with mixed results, most recently AAC and Blu-ray successfully.

Microsoft: Ecosystem Expert
Though it has no portable gaming system and despite the fact that improvements in the Zune music player’s second design iteration have yet to make any impact, Microsoft has by far the most well developed ecosystem of products and services already deployed for its console. (That could change later this year.) This includes especially Xbox Live, which is the most well-developed media service out there outside of Apple’s own iTunes. It’s grown into an effective marketplace for everything from independently developed and casual games to original Xbox titles, movies, and TV shows.

Games, Inc: Playstation 3 Photo Visualizer from Matt Vella on Vimeo.

Reader Comments


March 24, 2008 11:59 AM

Well first off, Microsoft is definitely not the Apple of gaming since practically 80% of its systems seems to be dying by the nefarious RROD (Red Ring of Death). So it's really a competition between Nintendo and Sony. Both actually are pretty innovative. Nintendo gave a different approach to playing games while Sony keeps updating the experience of gaming by connecting with other media. They're both pretty good. I would choose Sony though.


March 24, 2008 12:31 PM

Nintendo, easily. They don't simply do things better, they do things NEW, like Apple. Most companies won't risk that.


March 24, 2008 12:34 PM

80%? Lol. If anything Sony is now looking less innovative than ever with their lackluster SIXAXIS rip-off of the Wii, trophy system clone of Achievements, constant delays and games that are still not up to par as the Xbox 360 versions. They have also dropped the price quicker than both Nintendo and Microsoft in order to remain competitive even though they controlled the market for the past 2 generations.


March 24, 2008 02:02 PM

Schphinkter and your point is...? So you prefer a broken console over a PS3 just cuz you think the Sixaxis is a rip-off? A rip-off of what? The Wii-mote and Sixaxis are so different that is funny that you mention it; not only different but totally different. Judging by your logic the Wii-mote is a rip-off of the controllers of "The House of The Dead" or "Time Crisis". Or maybe from the EyeToy of the PS2? cuz both are only used to play minigames... And in top of that this is bussines and everything's a rip-off of a rip-off. Sorry for the misspellings but my english is limited.


March 24, 2008 03:21 PM

Sony's PlayStation name brand is the god of gaming. Where companies look for perfection they look at Sony. Xbox 360 is just a Microsoft attempt to try and get more money they fail horribly wrong. Nintendo is dying much letter when people start realizing they got no new technology but crappy looking games. PLAYSTATION 3 is the future of gaming the most have gaming system of all times.


March 24, 2008 03:22 PM

No. Last time I checked Apple had 3% market share (Personal Computers) Sony does better.


March 24, 2008 03:43 PM

@W how can you say that. It was obvious that sony wanted to "innovate" when they heard of nintendos unique wiimote. thus announcing the sixaxis remote for ps3 as a rebuttle. As for the wiimote unline the eyetoy its not used only for minigames there are a lot of hard core games available using it.

Nintendo did a bold attempt to innovate and it went with them for the better.

as for both ps3 and xbox360 they went with the rather standard console gaming experience with better graphics.

For me if u want a unique experience of gaming go with wii.

but for hardcore gaming and connectivity go with a ps3.

f ash

March 24, 2008 05:47 PM

for anyone that believes that ps3 ripped off nintendo for motion sensitivity, i present the following link.

sony patented a wii-mote like device in 2004. It was initially for the ps2.


March 24, 2008 08:17 PM

ok i got a ps3 and atm, i would say that ps3 hasnt really given us the benifet of the doubt, and the sixaxis shit and anoying it just doesnt work with the contoller, completely useless when it comes to trying to fly a plane. And wheres the ps2 compatablity they promised? wheres home? where in-game xmb? its just all high hopes atm that they promised last year! dont get me wrong people are right this might be the yea for sony, but for the moment they need to get what they promised underway. before most people will even take a look. yes it takes time to do these things, but this is redicoulous...a year to make ingame xmb?

Jason Axelrod

March 25, 2008 01:20 AM

I dont agree with this guy's comments at all...

Apple makes POOR products, but manages to sell them at extremely high prices by somehow creating an "IT" factor. If any company is like Apple, it would be Nintendo... Nintendo, makes poor, extremely inferior and overpriced products, but manages to catch the public into believing they are the future... much like Apple.

Sony on the other hand, makes quality products, but no one buys because people like "underdogs"; and in the last generation, Sony was the Goliath, and Nintendo was the underdog. If Sony is like any company, I would say they are like Microsoft. The Microsoft ZUNE is far superior to the iPod, but because of the Goliath stature of the company, no one cares.

Mini Mario

March 25, 2008 02:07 AM

I hate to tell ya "F Ash" but the wii remoted has been in development since the gambcube launced. And I just wanna say this to the people that think they know what a wii is (the haters), The wii is more than a party machine with mini games...please this argument is getting old....are you guys that desparate to find things to fault with it just because it sells more than the console you chose.


March 25, 2008 08:24 PM

W. My point isn't that it's a mirror image of previous consoles (they all steal ideas), it's just that Sony doesn't seem as innovative as others make them out to be. Little Big Planet looks cool but it isn't made by Sony. The PS3 is still struggling to keep up with an older system even though it costs more. If I do get a PS3 it will be only for exclusives and it's blu-ray player. Otherwise I'll stick to my working Xbox 360. What I only care about are the games and the support it gets. COD4 is giving Xbox 360 owners a 21 day head start with new maps. GTA IV will have more stuff to offer gamers. The list goes on.

Speed breaker

March 26, 2008 09:48 AM

i just wonder what Xbox owner will have to say next same time, or else i think they will be on phone with microsoft to fix the RROD :-}, everybody knows tables are turning in favor of Ps3,

Royal Casino

April 13, 2008 01:58 AM

What an exciting video, it was just lovely, do insert more of such videos.Thanks.

Thank you for your interest. This blog is no longer active.



No longer child's play, the booming global games market is worth billions of dollars. In Games, Inc., BusinessWeek Innovation writer Matt Vella and Tokyo correspondent Kenji Hall analyze emerging business trends in video games and interactive entertainment. They’ll examine everything from button-mashing, chart-topping, console games to serious games commissioned by big corporations to train staff. They’ll also map the evolution of expansive virtual worlds and go behind the strategies at companies that are turning play into big business.

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