The price of PS3

2007-03-17

When I buy an expensive console, I want to know two things: (i) it's likely to have a decent lifespan, and (ii) there aren't likely to be huge numbers of hidden costs. Expensive items shouldn't become redundant until they've had many good strong years to justify their cost. Whilst there is always the risk of a breakdown, the hope is that the machine will get better and better until a superior model comes along or the company behind it stops supporting the product. In the last generation of consoles, PS2 was extremely dominant and still has great game releases even today (see God of War 2 next month or Final Fantasy XII a few weeks ago). Meanwhile, despite the PS2 arriving first, the X-box and Gamecube were abandoned well before Sony's console and have quickly been replaced. As for hidden costs, I certainly don't want to pay a huge sum of money and then find it's not the complete product unless I pay considerably more.

Console Lifespan

The generational gap according to Microsoft, in my opinion, was far too short. Sony, on the other hand, had a much more acceptable lifespan for PS2 and gap to the arrival of the PS3. Following the delayed European release, the release of the PS3 comes at the perfect time for me. Following the final great PS2 releases like God of War 2, I'll be ready for the new adventure. It's certainly likely that Microsoft's original intention for the lifespan of the X-box may have been altered by the relative failure of the console, next to the Playstation 2, particularly since Microsoft seem extremely keen on suggesting that the X-box 360 will benefit from the headstart in the current generation. Did the Playstation 2 win the last console "war" because it was released first? Nope. It just had better support. This time round, support for the 360 and PS3 appears to be fairly even, which is likely to have a considerable impact on Sony's sales, but personally I'm wary of the possibility that we'll be seeing the release of the new X-box within a few years, which is far too soon. Consoles are supposed to establish themselves and prove their worth, not simply get replaced and patched like the latest version of Windows.

Get it cheap

Which new adventure though? The Wii is cheap and I've tried it. I got a Wii at launch with the full expectation that this would mean I could forget about PS3 for a few years until a significant price drop. Not so. It's cheap (yay!) but does it actually perform well? I don't think so. Not yet anyway. Zelda, a GC port, and the novelty of Wii Sports were things that do not have the legs to fill the void between decent games releases on the Wii. Yes, it's an innovative and interesting console, but where are the games? Metroid Prime 3 is a long way off and I can't see myself getting any other games until then for the Wii. So the console is a fraction of the price of PS3, but comes with a fraction of the entertainment. As for the X-box, it's also "cheaper" than the Playstation 3, but it's the stuff that's missing from the initial purchase that worries me.

Hidden costs

A cheap X-box purchase will get you a decent console with very good games (I do think Gears of War looks particularly excellent) and, provided it doesn't break down, there's got to be many of hours enjoyment to be found. However, if you're looking for more, then the cost swiftly rises. If you want to store lots of games, videos and music, you'll need the more expensive X-box model. If you want to enjoy the full online experience, it's time to buy an annual subscription to the service. If you don't want wires trailing round the house, maybe you'll also want the wireless kit. These are all essentials for me, so a free online service, HDD included, and wireless connectivity, straight from the box, entirely transforms the cost of Playstation 3. As for high-definition films, that's a whole new expansion again!

High-definition films

Though it certainly won't apply to everyone, films can be every bit as important as games to many people. Arriving with a Blu-ray player as standard, the PS3 is equipped to play high-definition movies straight out of the box. This is a fantastic feature, particularly since the PS3 is currently cheaper than most Blu-ray players, and has the advantage of being easily upgraded with future firmware updates. If I wanted the same capability with an X-box, I'd need to be looking for yet another upgrade and I'd end up actually paying more.

Games rule

In truth, the only real consideration should be games. The right console for you is the one with the games you like. If you're a Halo fan, X-box is a good home. For those that love Mario and Zelda, it's time to get a Wii. On this, there is only personal choice. For me, it's Gran Turismo, Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy, Wipeout and more that keep me interested in the Playstation series of consoles. Price, functionality and other minor issues aside, anybody's decision should really be dictated by the sort of games they're looking for.

Concluding remarks

Overall, the PS3 package isn't for everyone, especially while that initial price is so high (and it's bound to turn away casual buyers at Christmas time), but when the cost of the console is reduced, I suspect that all the industry analysts predicting that PS3 will still be the long-term market leader will suddenly have a lot more weight behind their arguments. The future of PS3 looks good and Sony have definitely improved following the total battering they received last year. The PS3 had some major stumbles but it's come out the other side looking pretty strong. For me, there simply isn't a more sensible choice of console, but if the games aren't right for you, I'd have to admit you can't go wrong on any console in this generation.

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You've been wrong about every single thing you've ever done, Including this thing, You're not a scientist, You're not a doctor, You're not even a full-time employee, Where did your life go so wrong?