Anybody who has been involved in a console war (or observed one) of this generation usually hears someone mention this: “If the PS3 is so good, why is it in last place?” and aside from the obvious “Because the 360 came out a year earlier” comeback I want to take a deeper look into how much this really matters. How does it matter when comparing consoles to each other? How does it matter when looking at the closing of studios like Big Big Games and Zipper Interactive? Let’s take a look.
The PlayStation 3 was released on November 17th 2006 with one a historically slow start for any console launch. Outside of Resistance there were virtually no great launch titles to boost the PS3 into second or first place in the console war. This trend basically continued and as time went on, the PlayStation 3 never actually did make it past the 360 in sales. Even today as I am writing this the PlayStation 3 is still in third place with 64.9 million units sold while the Xbox 360 is holding at 67 million units sold.
Now I am pointing this out to everyone to ask a very simple question: “Why should I care”? Since launch, people have argued over who has sold more units. Why can’t people just enjoy the games? The PlayStation 3 started to pick up a lot of steam at Gamescom 2009 when the announcement of a $299 PlayStation Slim met the public and with that the introduction of Kevin Butler. Since then the PlayStation 3 has enjoyed plenty of big name first party exclusives like Uncharted 2 & 3, Twisted Metal, God of War III, Heavy Rain, Little Big Planet 2, and many more despite the whether or not they were successful commercially. Even today we are looking forward to games like The Last of Us, Beyond: Two Souls and God of War Ascension. Obviously PlayStation lacks nothing in the games department, and additionally continues to have great first-party support.
The PS3 is in last place, and even most of today’s games still sell more on the 360, but that doesn’t mean they have not sold well on the PS3 either. PS3 Gamers are still playing today’s best games. They hold such a vast amount of exclusives and the PS3 is even catching up to the 360 as we speak. Having sold about 30,000 more units than Xbox during the week of June 16th, PS3 shows a consistent trend to catch up with the competition.
In the end, my point remains. Why does this really matter? If the PlayStation 3 stays in last place this whole generation, I won’t complain. If the PS4 starts in last place and stays there, I still won’t complain as long as I am getting my hands on the games I love to play. Why I should care about this at all is beyond me. I understand sales affect the financial situation of the publisher, however as far as I can tell PlayStation is really not in any trouble. Well, trouble that is bad enough that I will stop getting great games like “The Last of Us” or “PlayStation All-Stars”. I’ll still enjoy my games and keep on playing them.
Before I end this article however I would like to say that while I don’t think sales really matter, there are times that they do affect me as a gamer and cause serious issues. For instance, while I don’t think the PS3 sales in comparison to Microsoft matter, the overall financial movements that go through the industry do. Sony is not alone in hurting from financial loss; THQ and other publishers have had to close down studios over the past few years to keep costs down. Zipper Interactive is one of those studios. I don’t blame Sony for having to cut costs. However the whole situation just sucks. This is how sales do matter. They matter because they are the determining factor when it comes time to clean house.
So in the end my point here is this, when comparing to the 360 or other competitors, PS3 sales do not matter, because instead of comparing numbers between consoles, is not as fun as just enjoying your console for what it is. At the same time PS3 sales do matter because when there are losses, Sony needs sales to prevent themselves from shutting down developer studios. PlayStation may or may not be the biggest profit for Sony overall however as far as just PlayStation is concerned, that part of Sony should be the one bringing in the cash needed to sustain itself. Note that I am not saying PlayStation is in any danger but rather that is the way I believe it should work.
Does the state of PS3 sales matter to you as a gamer?
Stay tuned for my next piece when I discuss the state of the PlayStation Vita.