I like Sony. Who doesn’t? They’ve got a lot of great games, they’re leaders in technology and research, they have their fingers in lots of good pies, and so on. But if they keep pulling this kind of garbage, they’re going to be begging for mercy from the rest of the industry in five years. “At the end of the day, the iPhone is just a phone,” says Kaz Hirai. Sure, buddy. I’m not iPhone maniac like the rest of the CG crew, but calling it “just a phone” is like calling Godzilla “just an iguana.” What it is, Mr. Hirai, is an effective assault on almost every device your company makes, and you’d do well to consider it so. But this isn’t the only time Sony has shot itself in the foot lately.
How about the PSP Go? Pricing it at $250 misses out on a huge opportunity to put it below $200, entice upgraders, put it in the “casual buy” section of people’s minds. But Sony is “comfortable with where the prices are sitting right now.” The PS3 has been priced too high since launch, yet they’re comfortable with that as well. Sure, Nintendo hasn’t exactly lowered its price either, but that’s because they picked the right one to begin with. You didn’t, Sony! You never do! And then you just plug your ears and start singing about how it’ll all work out with your 10-year plan.
Sony, you had it so good. With the momentum of the PS2, you could have completely dominated the console gaming market, but you refused to capitalize on your success. You may have lost money with every PS3, but no amount of lost money will make up for lost market share you’ll never capture again. And you had so much money anyway. It was as simple as pricing it equal to the Xbox 360, at which point you could say “It’s newer, it’s better, it’s more powerful, and it’s a Sony.” Your sales would be great, you’d lose a ton of money, and then you’d gain it back because all your PS2 partners would still be your friends. The Wii would have taken off anyway, but at least Microsoft wouldn’t be eating your cake right now. Remember all those great exclusives you unveiled at E3? Neither do I.
Being completely disconnected from market realities and pretending everything will be all right is no way to go through life, Sony. And I’m afraid that at this point there’s no turning back. If, during the first year of the PS3 and PSP’s lifetime, you’d seen the terrible sales and said “we blew it,” you might have been able to save yourself. But I’m convinced you’re going to keep missing opportunities until you’re out of the race.
Just don’t croak until the PS3’s magnum opus comes out (probably The Last Guardian, let’s be honest). You may not even compete in the next generation, but at least people will look back at the PS3 the way they look at the Saturn or Dreamcast, and say “What a waste. There were some decent games on that thing.”