It’s been a little bit over four years since Sony released the PlayStation 3 back in November 2006 to awaiting gamers. In that time, the video game giant has done a very good job in gaining on the early market share its main competitor was able to grasp a year prior to Sony’s launch. Despite all of that, the PlayStation 3 still remains around three million units shy of the Xbox 360 with the gap closing every day.
However, even while taking all of that into account, I firmly believe that Sony could have overtaken Microsoft and been hot on the heels of the Nintendo Wii had it just made some minor changes to its product and avoided certain changes post-launch as well. Obviously this is opinion alone and impossible to prove, but I guess that is what makes it interesting to think about.
I’ve narrowed the gap down to five potential issues that surrounds the reasoning behind Sony’s slow start and the lack of overtaking the competition by this point in the generation. If you disagree with any of them or have some ideas of your own, feel free to include them in the comment section below.
DualShock 3 instead of Six AXIS
Prior to the launch of the PlayStation 3, Sony revealed that the company would not be going with the patented DualShock controller, but instead, a motion-based controller that felt more tacked on than anything else. Instead of biting the bullet via an out-of-court settlement, Sony spewed out a bunch of PR babble about how the motion tech was incompatible with the rumble technology and thus rumble wouldn’t be included in the controller.
Considering Sony eventually went on to release the DualShock 3 with both features included, this was one of the more negative aspects to the PlayStation 3’s campaign. Though some users (including myself) will tell you that the lack of rumble wasn’t a big deal, we’re definitely only kidding ourselves. Having the force feedback when playing video games is an important aspect in immersing the gamer into the experience.
Had Sony just swallowed its pride and paid for the technology, gamers could have enjoyed a much more sophisticated controller out of the gate and avoided having to pay out of pocket fees down the road to upgrade. I think this may have deterred a lot of potential buyers upon launch since they could get full feedback support from the competitor at a fraction of the price.
This is probably this biggest no brainer on the list. Obviously launching a premium console at $599.99 is a daunting task to look forward to. The general public in the midst of a recession was not willing to pay the price of admission to this entertainment masterpiece at such a high cost. However, had Sony released the product at $399.99 with a premium model at $499.99, I ultimately believe that not only would the launch have been significantly more successful, but it would have allowed Sony to get the pricing down quicker through software profits coming in quicker than they were.
I understand that ultimately this would have resulted in a much higher loss per unit sold, but when you’re selling three to four more million consoles than expected, you’re also raking a ton of money when it comes to licensing and first-party software and peripherals. I believe you have to take into account that with four million extra consoles in homes, you’re looking at a sale of two and a half million more SIX AXIS controllers and eventually even more DualShock 3s upon their release as well.
It’s no secret that Sony would have still be in the negative, but in the long run the market share would have been in their favor and the extra expenses like controllers, blu-ray adopters, etc,. would have balanced it all to be roughly the same as it ended up being cost-wise.
This may be the number one detriment to the entire company. Upon the launch of the PlayStation 3, Sony was releasing the most absurd and creepy advertising trailers, commercials and billboards around the world. To be honest, the company was a complete laughing stock. Not only did its advertisements feature a baby crying in an empty room, but they didn’t make any sense either.
Enter Kevin Butler — VP of Marketing Brilliance. Butler just so happened to push Sony to that next level when they introduced him for MLB: The Show. He was an immediate hit with fanboys, non-gamers, and even fanboys of other consoles. Without a shadow of the doubt, Kevin Butler revolutionized the way the PlayStation 3 was marketed and sold to the consumer in the form of advertising. Through comedy, sarcasm and time traveling abilities, Butler was able to push families into purchasing PlayStation 3s and getting some gamers to pick up a second console for the bedroom.