Is Sony as desperate as it looks?

Sony looks desperate and if you ask Don Reisinger, it doesn't look like that will change anytime soon.

Don Reisinger
Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
3 min read
Playstation 3
This generation's Sega Saturn? CNET

With a rumored $399 40GB Playstation 3 on the way, a cheaper device hitting shelves in Japan and UK, and announcements of an all-out price blitz this holiday season, is Sony really as desperate as it looks?

By just looking at news from the last week, it's quite easy to see that Sony is grasping at anything that will make the PS3 stick. Whether it's a new color, a cheaper price, or a rumbling controller, the company is hoping we will like something that make us spend our hard-earned money. I can't blame Sony for trying--the PS3 is hands-down, the most important device Sony is selling right now. Not only is it the harbinger of Blu-ray, it represents one of the most economically stable divisions of the company over the past decade.

But once again, Sony has it all wrong. The company is a victim of its own self-image and there is no stopping it with the current management in place. Simply put, Sony sees itself as a hardware company and in this business, that's the last thing you want to do.

Is Sony just a hardware company? Well, yes and no. Almost every product it releases is hardware and it seems to know this business best. There is no denying the fact that Sony threw all of the cutting edge components into the PS3 and it's simply the most powerful game machine we have ever seen. But for some odd reason, Sony genuflects at the sight of high-powered hardware while thumbing its nose at software--the true sellers of gaming consoles. Isn't this ironic considering the company develops software for its platform on a regular basis?

I can appreciate Sony's position--it needs to drop the price on the Playstation 3 to appeal to consumers first, but at what point does the company plan on selling consoles? A dropped price is fine and $399 is a good place to start, but if it gets rid of backward compatibility as it did with the UK device, how will it stop people from buying the Playstation 2 and opt for a PS3?

In fact, look no further than the PS2 to see how the video game industry really works. The Playstation 2 is underpowered when compared to this generation of consoles and yet, it's selling better than the PS3. Some may say it's price, but I disagree. Sure, it's easy to afford, but think of how many games you can play with a Playstation 2. And once you do that, compare it to the Playstation 3 library of games and then tell me which console you would prefer to play.

For the first time, Sony is off the mark entirely. To make matters worse, this couldn't come at a worse time. With a floundering PS3 that Sony hopes will catch on, what will happen to Blu-ray? What will happen to its game development division if the PS3 continues to fail? Worse, what will happen to Sony as a whole?

Sony is under the impression that a lower price on its console will stimulate sales and help it attain the lead it used to enjoy. But with no exclusive blockbuster titles in sight, what's the impetus for us to run to the store and buy the Playstation 3?

The Xbox 360 currently has the best software library and that console has been selling for $399 since its release. The Nintendo Wii is riding a wave like nothing we have seen in this industry and that console costs just $250. Simply put, if I want to play video games, why would I choose the Playstation 3?

Now, I'm sure Sony zealots will stand up and tell the world why there is a need to buy a Playstation 3 immediately, but I think any and all of those arguments are pure rubbish. I've owned the console since December and I can say that I've tried to play it as much as I can, but there is nothing out there that has made it imperative that I do so.

The Playstation 3 is on life support and unless Sony starts grasping at something it can hold on to, it should stop worrying about how the public perceives its hardware and start doing what it can to bring exclusive blockbuster titles to the console. So far, the Playstation 3 is the biggest gaming blunder we have seen in years.

Can you say "another Sega Saturn?"