Thursday, September 3, 2009

Is the PS3 The Next Super Nintendo?

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In a previous blog entry I made a comparison between Sony's Playstation 3 and the demise of Sega's console business. Since then Sony has brought out a new PS3 at a lower price in an effort to reclaim some of the market share that they have lost in few years since introducing the PS3. Such a turn around hasn't been seen Nintendo clawed back from the brink to beat the Sega Genesis back in the mid 1990's just before the 16 bit era gave way to the 32 bit era.

Back in 1989 Sega introduced the Genesis to replace the Master System that was so badly beaten by the original NES during the 8 bit console war. Sega's 16 bit system started off slowly but eventually gained market share. By the end of 1990 Nintendo still didn't have a 16 bit system on the market and video game industry observers at the time were starting to predict the end of Nintendo within a year and a half.

Nintendo brought out the Super Nintendo just before the end of 1991, but by then the Genesis was cheaper, had more games and had so much more market share, similar to the current era in console gaming, The Xbox 360 had a one year head start, the 360 is cheaper, and has more games. Nindendo got their game back making deals with game publishers to get exclusive games on Super Nintendo and some games that would have Genesis exclusives became multiplatform. In 1994 Nintendo brought out a mass marketing campaign along with a price cut. By the end of the 16 bit console war a year later Nintendo dominated selling 49 million Super Nintendos in just 4 years by comparison Sega sold 29 million Genesis consoles in the six years it was on the market.

Sony's price cut is seen by many as the first step towards turning the tide in it's war against Microsoft. Sony has made head way with game developers in getting more games for the Playstation 3. Saint's Row launched in 2006 as an exclusive for the Xbox 360, The sequel which hit store shelves three years later is multiplatform. Bioshock another 360 exclusive hit store shelves in 2007. A year a version of Bioshock for the Playstation 3 arrived in stores. When Bioshock 2 arrives by the end of the year it too will launch on both Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Game developers are taking advantage of the more advanced technology in the Playstation 3. The recent release Batman: Arkam Asylum has a play as the Joker mode which is absent from the Xbox 360 version. The reason for this is because of the greater storage capacity of the BluRay media used by the Playstation 3. The Dual Layer DVD media used on the Xbox 360 is showing it's age, The game Star Ocean: The Last Hope required 3 DVD disks, and the upcoming Forza Motorsport will be coming on two disks.

Super Nintendo proved that a console maker can pull itself from the brink of extinction speculated by industry analysts to win a console war. Sony has been seen as a dark horse in the race but definitely not one that should not be bet against. Microsoft may have been able to use the library of games available on the 360 to attract gamers, then use this massive installed base to sway game developers, but these advantages are quickly disappearing. This is what will make a comeback for Sony more and more certain.

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