Tuesday, July 15, 2008

E3 Console Post #4: Sony and Nintendo

I think most of Sony's press conference can be summed up like this: "we're introducing a hundred new features in the PlayStation Network that nobody cares about so we can claim the PS3 is a bargain at $499."

Boy, that sounds familiar.

You can get a full wrap-up of the Sony press conference here, but the short version is that Sony didn't have much. They did announce that a new PS3 model with an 80GB hard drive would be introduced at $399. No backward compatibility, and apparently it replaces the 40GB model.

Again, just like Microsoft--more hard drive capacity, but no price reduction. Again, just like Microsoft--a staggering misunderstanding of how the console market works.

It seems clear at this point that Microsoft and Sony, for all their bluster, have a kind of d├ętente going on. Even though they both desperately need a price cut (for reasons I discussed earlier this week), they instead seem strangely content copying each other strategically.

And their strategy is ass.

It's fine to have a ton of online options to get people to buy things (and collect your toll when they do), but people have to buy the console first. And expanding what people can buy without expanding the number of people who can buy seems like a very limited strategy.

Nintendo? It was hard to hear their presentation over the sound of giant presses printing money. Unfortunatley, there was nothing inspiring about them, either. There's a summary here, but the short version is that there were no rabbit being pulled out of hats, no shocking announcements to delight the press. Yes, there's a new version of Wii Sports (called Wii Sports Resort) coming to support the more accurate Wiimote, and Animal Crossing is coming to the Wii, but the only surprise was Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars for the DS.

So, with the dearth of substantive announcements from the big three year this year, is E3 basically a dead skunk in the middle of the road? For all the hate that was expressed over the unwashed masses (what, I'm using that phrase again already?) getting to attend, it used to generate a huge amount of buzz.

Now? Buzz=0.

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