Why Sony Needs To Send Nintendo A Christmas CardMark Fossen

Posted on December 3rd, 2007 in Gaming, Playstation 2, Opinion, Wii by Mark Fossen

I’m sure many of you reading this are like me: the well-informed gamer whom family turns to around the holidays. Last year was counseling my sister through a 360 for her husband (including a call as she was checking out to consult on the games), and this year I’ve had some other family members ask me about getting into videogames. Every situation is different, but for a big family that loves boardgames and other group activities I recommended a … PlayStation 2.

Of course, I considered the Wii might be an excellent choice in an alternate universe where they existed and can be purchased by someone who isn’t willing to dedicate their life to the hunt. But I can’t really recommend it at twice the price of the PS2, and half the library and a fraction of the availability and library. This family loves Disney, so the Kingdom Hearts games will be enjoyed. They love music, and will have Guitar Heroes and DDRs to catch up on. They love trivia boardgames, so should enjoy Buzz. There’s a lot out there on the platform if you don’t need the latest-and-greatest, and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon. This was my biggest reservation: is the PS2 a dying platform? Would I be consigning them to the traditional late-lifecycle fare of edutainment and shovelware?

There’s no doubt: the PS2 is continuing to sell, and sell well. Looking at an NPD snapshot from just before HALO 3 starts to explode the 360 numbers, you can see that the titan of the last-gen is still putting up serious sales numbers. What’s equally shocking are the software numbers: even in the most recent data available, the PlayStation 2 SKUs are continuing to sell.

The Gamecube and Xbox are dead and gone, consigned to the dustbin of history. Both collapsed almost immediately upon the release of the new generation of hardware, yet Sony finds itself in the almost unprecedented situation of supporting two generations simultaneously. There’s certainly an argument to be made that they are cannibalizing their own sales, as shoppers opt for the $129 PS2 over the $400 PS3. However, those are people whole are buying the PlayStation brand, putting money in Sony’s pocket, and will upgrade eventually … hopefully staying within the family. In all the doom-and-gloom about the sales of the PS3, it’s easy to forget that Sony is still selling just as many (or more) of it’s last-gen console which neither Microsoft nor Nintendo can claim.

But why? Certainly one big part is one big number: 120 million units shipped as of this past September. There’s an audience there, it’s growing daily, and much of it is perfectly happy with the capabilities of the machine and aren’t crying for an upgrade.

What’s fascinating to me, though, is how we’re seeing the lifetime of the PS2 expanded by it’s longtime rival: Nintendo. It’s no secret that the only thing keeping the Wii in the “next-gen” discussion is release date: the horses under the hood are decidedly last-gen and prettty comparable to the PS2. Developers are quickly seizing upon this, realizing that they can port old PS2 games to the hottest console of the day … and that doing a cross-platform release between the PS2 and Wii saves on development costs while maximizing the potential user-base. In terms of development, there are two strata in place: the 360/PS3 and the Wii/PS2/PSP. While many releases will be pushed out across both strata, there’s a strong trend seeing the family-friendly Wii games also propping up the PlayStation 2 release schedule:

Sure, it’s not exactly a blockbuster lineup for the hardcore gamer … but it’s certainly a heck of a persuasive lineup for a console that by all rights should be entering the rest home. How long can it continue? Could we see the PlayStation 2 remaining viable for the next 2-3 years, at least? Longer? Could it continue to sell as long as the Wii does? I certainly wouldn’t be shocked: as long as the Wii remains a the biggest party in town, third-party will be hedging their bets with near-simultaneous releases on the PS2. Sony’s monster console may not be retiring just yet, and might just be going through a mid-life career change: from the bleeding edge of the hardcore to the new champion of casual gaming.

One Response to 'Why Sony Needs To Send Nintendo A Christmas Card'

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  1. Kory said,

    on December 5th, 2007 at 11:12 am

    Great article!

    I’ve never actually thought about the PS2 sales numbers compared to the Wii. When you put them both in the same category, it makes more sense what Nintendo is trying to compete with.

    But for those wanting to get into gaming who have yet to make the plunge, and are not into having the big and best, the ps2 is the downright winner at that price. Plus, with developers STILL pushing ports TO the ps2 or FROM the ps2, It’s “Win freakin Win baby”, as Peter Griffin would say.

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