It’s a new year, but I’m afraid that I have to be the harbringer of bad news to all those console loyalists lurking about the margins. If you’re hoping for a major turnaround, you’re probably going to have to wait until next generation.
I hit upon this realization while I was writing this article. The news itself isn’t much more than guesswork, but I do think it’s at least reasonable to assume that an unholy number of Wiis were sold this past holiday season. After that there’s the Nintendo DS and pretty much everything else. Last year was the year that the trends had a chance to shift, and Sony and Microsoft seemed to know it. They went all in with price cuts, fancy redesigns and innovative first-party software. And what did they have to show for it? Microsoft moved up a couple percentage points, and Sony seems to be losing more ground all the time.
As a stubborn GameCube owner during the last generation, I can certainly empathize with the frustration of the roving PlayStation and Xbox fanboy mob. I was in pretty much the same position in 2003, watching as Nintendo slashed prices and started offering Legend of Zelda pack-in bundles, wondering why attitudes and sales numbers weren’t getting any better.
The thing is though, it seems like the third year of any generation is about the time that trends solidify and consumers pretty much make their final decision. From my vantage point, the average citizen is aware of the Wii and only the Wii (well, they might be aware of the Xbox 360 too), and that’s what they’re going to get for their kids. Outside of that, there’s the Nintendo DS and even the PSP. The poor, clumsy, overly expensive PS3 seems to be getting lost in the shuffle.
Personally, I’m kind of surprised that it’s gotten to this point with the PS3. I had figured that fortunes would reverse, the Wii would taper off, and all three systems would hit some sort of equilibrium. Instead, the ailing economy and the general expense seem to have kept consumers away, and developers just haven’t had the time or energy to put a significant amount of money into the developing for the “lesser SKU.” I’d say that it’s the GameCube all over again, but Nintendo was at least turning a profit.
Not being the type of person to own every console at once (I’m cheap), these trends unfortunately put me in the position of having to make a tough choice. I would ordinarily go with the PlayStation brand because it generally has the support of Japanese developers, but that doesn’t seem to be the case this time around. It looks like they’re all headed to the Wii, the DS, the PSP and even the 360. Which means that the PS3 will be the odd one out for me. It makes me kind of sad knowing that I’ll be missing Fat Princess. And, of course, this just means that I’ll be cursing life itself as Banpresto announces a PS3 Super Robot Wars in a year or two (or a few months, you never know what they have up their sleeve).
You know me, even when I side with the “winning” systems, I’m apparently the loser. I guess there are just no easy choices anymore.