The Sensationalist #1: “But Mum, it’s 10 years old... I want a new one!”
Well first of all my name is Aaron, big surprise, I currently work at a giant brown goods retailer in Australia called JB Hi-Fi, very similar to the USA store Best Buy (I think...). I am the Games Manager there, so am in charge of sales, performance and merchandising. Would have been a cool gig a few years ago when games were for the gamers, but then the Wii happened and everyone saw fit to get in on the action. So for the most part I, what I like to call, Boganise Consoles. In other words try to sell them to the redneck community that I am a part of. Yes I do believe I like in the sticks especially when I get ask, “Where are you Playstation games?” and yes that is exactly what they are asking for (and if that didn’t that, yes they’re asking for PSone games).
Now onto the Sensationalist, I keep it no secret that I announced that this feature would be written over a year ago on this blog, but I never met the expectations. This was mainly because the issue I was first tackling was the Sony’s 10 year life cycle. I believed that at the time it was a relevant issue due the poor sales performance of the PS3, but then a month later that wasn’t the case. But now during this poor economic climate we are living in and the financial situation that Sony has been in the last couple of months the issue I believe is relevant once more and with more dimensions than my previous thought line. (I would have also written this a couple of months ago but have had massive internet troubles as previously mentioned).
Let us begin.
I am currently talking to a customer about the PS3, obviously highlighting our current deals and features, listening to him attentively and answering any of their concerns. I sense that the customer thinks that the PS3 is still a little pricey considering that I am throwing a couple of games and a HDMI cable for price that the console normally is by itself. The customer naively speaks under his breath it still plays the old PS2 games, only for me to rudely interrupt that it doesn’t no more. Despite my pointing out the range of games available on the PS3 and proposing to them that they are unlikely to pick up a PS2 game again, the mere fact that the console is no longer backwards compatible, looses me the sale. (And readers go “awwwwwh”).
This is not just a one off situation, I can’t count the amount times this happens weekly on my two hands alone. The customer is there; they can see the dotted line and are ready to sign, only for them to rip up the contract at the loss of this tiny feature. It’s just plain annoying.
Now once upon a time the PS3 used to come with this feature. In the USA the Initial batch of PS3 were fully backwards compatible with the Emotion chip and graphics processor of the PS2 imbed in the PS3. Australia’s initial batch replaced the Emotion Chip with software emulation but still retained the graphics processor allowing play of most PS2 games in the market with no issue. Then close to a year after the launch of the PS3 (and poor initial sales) Sony decided that to be more competitive they need to reduce the cost. (At this point I am basically going to using Australia’s situation out of ease and laziness.) Now the original 60GB sku retailed for around $1000. When the 40GB sku released it retailed for $700. The difference being: no backwards compatibility, smaller HDD, less USB ports and no multi-card reader. Now I am sceptical because I still do not believe that by removing these features Sony managed to pass on a saving of $300 to the customer, especially when it comes to the backwards compatibility feature. Now for the sake of trying to keep this shortish and concise I am going to the leave the analysis here and continue on (please feel free to comment if you think differently, again the sensationalist is open to flaming).
Sensationalising: (This part is open to massive flaming)
This is reason as to why I believe that the backwards compatibility feature was pulled out. I don’t believe it was pulled out save money on cost of manufacturing. I believe it was pulled out because it threaten the 10 year life cycle of the PS2 given that while PS2 sales were still strong with initial launch of the PS3. However, they did start to decline come closer to PS3 first Christmas period in Australia (remembering that PS3 didn’t launch till I think March or May, can’t remember, in Australia the year after USA). It was when the 40GB sku was released that when we saw greater interest in PS2, this showed in sales in where some months PS2 would perform much better than its big brother. Funny that you take out the PS2 in the PS3 and PS2 sells better hmmmmm...
This move, I believe, gave the PS2 the breath of life it need to survive to the grand young age of 10 before Sony would announce sometime next year its move to halt production. Whilst we as gamers knew that the PSone was dead well before Sony announced it, we still know that the PS2 is still alive and probably won’t think of its death until Sony does. However, would we have thought differently if the PS2 had remained in the PS3?
Have your say!!!
Next time on The Sensationalist: Digital Distribution = Job Losses.