Must be Monday. New podcast! Just click on the fancy logo below.
"If only there was a game console that was also a Blu-ray player."The third generation of Sony's PlayStation console, and Sony's entry in the Seventh Generation, the PlayStation 3 tried to do with Blu-ray what PlayStation 2 did with the original DVD format. They succeeded, but it took a significantly longer period of time. Sony knocked HD-DVD out as a competitor, but primarily did so by rallying market support towards Blu-ray rather than offering any real innovation one way or the other. The recession a couple years after the PS3 launched slowed down the sales of HDTVs, which meant the synergy needed for Blu-ray to take off was hurt (regular DVD didn't need anything other than people having TVs with audio/video plugs, or adapters if they didn't). It also represented a last desperate attempt by Sony to save SACD and the first couple of generations were compatible. This failed utterly and the feature was quietly dropped along with PS2 backwards compatibility with the CECHG revision.note As HDTV has since gotten cheaper and caught on, this problem has somewhat healed, but not completely. The opportunity for PS3 to ride the wave of HD enthusiasm from launch has been lost forever. But the PS3 itself had bigger problems. The system was built with the dream of being an affordable supercomputer. Unfortunately, supercomputers are judged more by their relative processing power compared to computers of the age than by design and affordability. Even though the Cell Processor has a lot of speed, making an actual supercomputer from the system's parts requires linking several together. While several groups have done this, the need for multiple console units does defeat the notion of an "affordable" supercomputer. But by going with this design, the system cost a lot more to make than previous PlayStation systems. The system launched at $500 US for the low-end CECHB 20 GB model and FIVE-HUNDRED AND NINETY-NINE US DOLLARSnote for the high-end CECHA 60 GB revision. Not only did this make the system one of the most expensive ever (in Europe and Australia it was on the level of the Three DO, C Di, and the Neo Geo) but the systems were being sold at a loss note , and required the sale of five games per console before Sony broke even on the console itself. The plan was to make with this in terms of software and Blu-ray sales (at least Sony Pictures movies, partly why they were so aggressive in getting rid of HD-DVD), but Blu-ray sales are slower than they thought, and game sales, while decent, used to be below those of Xbox 360 games, although this is not necessarily the case anymore. The PS3's programming was notoriously difficult to learn at first, which meant more time, effort, and money spent on game development, and the 360 had a year start. Thus, early on, developers faced the problem of either accepting a lower profit margin for a given game or selling it at a higher price. Since the games, except for JRPGs, generally sold less (with some exceptions), but cost a lot either way (companies have stated HD games cost around two to three times as much as a Wii game), Multi Platform releases started becoming even more common than in any generation before. As developers have gotten the hang of this, the problem has been marginalized, resulting in more software releases as of late, both Multi Platform and exclusive. While it's not so bad now, early on these factors severely hurt the PS3 as it was and came in addition to an already bad PR problem caused by Sony's pre-launch marketing. Sony came across as arrogant, with Ken Kutaragi (the creator of the PlayStation) making statements such as the system would sell 5,000,000 even without games, and that he wanted people to want the PS3 enough to work harder to earn it (forgetting that the Crack is Cheaper notion was mainly with the base, not the mainstream). There are a couple of other infamous lines, but most of those simply became internet memes instead of hurting the system's reputation. Now, while the system itself is good, has a strong design, is probably the most reliable PlayStation so far, has better security than the PSP, has solid online and downloadable games on the Play Station Network, has quite a few other great features (if you want a Blu-ray it's one of the best players, and the PS3 had official Linux support), and doesn't charge for extras like the 360 does (online, wireless, a hard drive) it failed to reach the heights of its predecessors, which is a big fall. Sony wound up losing the console gaming throne it held with the first two PlayStations. The PS3 is not a failure, mind you, but it clearly wasn't the success Sony was hoping for. The console launched in late 2006, but didn't turn a profit for Sony Computer Entertainment until the third quarter of 2008. In August 2009, a new variant of the PS3 has been released — the Slim, a smaller device with most of the same features and a relatively significant reduction in power needs. More importantly, this led to price drops all around, putting the PS3 within striking range of the Xbox 360. Since PS3s are still more technically advanced than Xbox 360s, and since Microsoft discontinued its midprice 360 model in the meantime, the fortunes of the PS3 have improved (as in, more releases). If 3D TV catches on, that might help, since Sony introduced 3D support with the 3.50 update and recent games like Gran Turismo 5 and Killzone 3 are taking full advantage of it. In September 2012, an even slimmer model of the PS3 was released. Dubbed the Super-Slim, this model cut costs even further by removing the front-loading slot drive in favor of a top loading drive (similar to its predecessors- the PlayStation 2 Slim and PS One - before) and shrinking the unit size even further, and the value model will ship with 12GB of flash storage instead of a hard drive. The PS3 was notable for avoiding Region Coding, this maneuver comparable to that on the Nintendo DS. Prior to June 2012, all PS3 games and downloadable PSOne games are region-free, and although the PSN store is picky about accepting credit cards from other regions, PSN games downloaded from it are not region coded. Blu-rays, DVDs, PS2, and PS1 discs remain region-locked. Originally, PS3 games were to have optional region-locking capabilities (where it's up to the publisher of the game to decide if the game was to be pressed with region coding) and a region-locking scheme was implemented on the consoles. But, due to consumer pressure (the first adopters for this system both knew about and hated the idea of region coding) and pressure from various governments, the idea of region locking PS3 games was quickly abandoned. Game discs manufactured were mandated to be region free. An HDTV is needed to guarantee playing all out-of-region games - while some PAL games will also run on NTSC televisions and vice versa, others will not. Several publishers have attempted to publish region-locked games in the past, but backed out after outcries and threats of boycott. However, this doesn't mean that the game can't detect what region the console it's running on and react accordingly: The Country Switch trope entry has anecdotes of PS3 games that do detect the region of the console they're running on, although the most drastic thing these detections do appears to be simply disabling blood and gore if the console's detected to be Japanese. Which is funny when you consider another, somewhat unrelated, trope. This issue culminated in July 2012, when Persona 4 Arena became the first region-locked game for the console to be published, with Atlus boneheadedly ignoring the threats of boycott. The fanbase of both the game and the console wasn't pleased, and said game has culminated in Internet Backdraft and Hype Backlash after it was announced (to surprise of no one) that the European release has been delayed indefinitely. However the latter speculates that Atlus' deal with Sony could open the floodgates to other developers demanding that Sony region-lock their games in the future, a worrying move to import gamers everywhere. PS2 support for the console was dropped on third generation consoles. The PS3 does have the ability to emulate PS2 games in software, but because of difficulties emulating games made for certain PS2 firmware builds Sony has limited this to a handful of downloadable "PS2 Classics". Linux support was dropped with the introduction of the Slim version of the console. Older versions of the consolesnote will still be able to enjoy PS2 support though. As of firmware version 3.21 (released on 1 April 2010, and this is no April Fool's joke), the "OtherOS" support was dropped from the older models. The removal of the OtherOS function has gotten Sony some backlash and even at least six lawsuits including one by the Dutch governmentnote , although it should be noted that this was done to prevent piracy. For the bulk of its lifespan, the PS3 was also the most difficult of the 7th-generation consoles to hack or use Homebrew-like software. While it has been done, it is significantly more rare than it is on other consoles. There are very active and dedicated communities at work, but overall response has been taken in multiple directions. And it's best left at that. Also infamous for a Dada Ad marketing campaign for the first year, but has gained some real acclaim for a recent marketing effort with their campaign of "It only does everything" (simultaneously a memetic mutation turned into a message of the console's strengths and a focus on the console's versatility, rather than confusing the public), coupled with the comedic offerings of Kevin Butler, the (fictional) VP of nebulous divisions. Even if some Nigerians don't find it very funny. At the 2010 Game Developers Conference, Sony unveiled the Play Station Move, a device similar in concept and design to the Wii, but which has more functions in addition to being both HD and 3D compatible, as well as having a high level of precision. Two controllers can be used at once, some games will use two of the primary controllers (the ones with the ball on the end) at once to simulate two handed actions, and others may instead use the secondary remote with the control stick and d-pad. The secondary one, called the Navigation Controller is not required, as the left side of the Dual Shock 3 aka Sixaxis can be used instead. It does require adding a PSEye camera to the system, though. It's also worth noting that regardless of whether the Wii was anything of an inspiration or not, or how much of one is disputed, development actually began as early as 2001. While the PS Move's sales are, as of the end of 2010, behind those of Kinect, it has generally received better reception with both its audience and professional level reviewers. The PlayStation 3 has also been the center of political controversy several different times. Among these times, the PSN was once shut down for weeks at a time due to a security breach, and LG once got the PS3 banned in Holland for 10 days.note Its successor, The Playstation Orbis, was announced in early 2012, right after Nintendo unveiled the Wii U. It is thought that Sony's plan to go with a name this time around is due to the Four is Death superstition. Ironically, Sony is taking the opposite direction from Microsoft with the Orbis: While Microsoft moved from the x86 architecture to the PowerPC architecture when transitioning from the Xbox to the Xbox 360, Sony is transitioning from the PowerPC architecture of the PS3 to the x86 (Specifically, an enhanced version of the architecture called x86-64) with the Orbis—it was revealed that the Orbis would use off-the-shelf PC components with a customized and proprietary chipset in an effort to keep it as affordable as possible. On November 22nd, 2012, Sony's stock was downgraded to junk status. Given the fact that not a single company has ever recovered from that, and Sony's long line of financial troubles, it was looking unlikely that the Orbis will ever see the light of day. However, against all odds, Sony announced the Play Station 4, dropping the Orbis moniker and laughing in the face of the Four is Death trope, on 20 February 2013, with hopes that it do for them what Final Fantasy did for Square Enix.