Sony and E3 – The hand Sony should show.

Price cut aside, Sony needs to do some serious work at E3 to get some momentum for the PS3, but more on that after we get the price cut business out of the way. A $100 price cut will help improve sales, but by how much? I believe that there are millions of loyal Sony fans still playing their PS2 because the entry point for a PS3 is just too steep. A PS3 for $499 will not entice the majority of these gamers; $299 is more reasonable. With that said, the price drop will help move some systems, because a $100 price drop will be enough incentive for some gamers sitting on the fence. I have no idea how much of a bump the price drop will provide PS3 sells; maybe an extra 5K per week leading into Thanksgiving weekend.

In other words, a price drop alone will not be enough for Sony to make significant progress. Then again, the price drop is still speculative. Sony is still denying the rumors, but surely they have been caught with their pants down.

Speaking of rumors, a popular one is that the Sixaxis controller will be replaced with a rumbled enabled Sixaxis controller. Great plan on Sony’s part, but retiring the current Sixaxis controller and bundling the rumored Sixaxis with rumble will not have a big impact PS3 sells. This rumor will come true; Sony set this precedent back in the original PlayStation days. The good news for Sony is that margins on accessories are normally huge, and I am sure that most PS3 owners will pick up a rumbled enabled Sixaxis controller before Christmas. I am sure I will; drone, tool, whatever … the new controller will be the default controller going forward.

Price drop. Check. New controller with rumble. Check. Neither will be enough. What else can Sony do? Free Blu-ray movies, game pack-in, quality games, and better third party development tools and support.

Sony is going to have to continue running free Blu-ray movie offers. One of the reasons I picked up my PS3 was for Blu-ray to compliment my Sony HD TV. I have to believe that there are some other PS3 owners in the same boat. It will be interesting to see what impact, if any, the current 5 free Blu-ray movies offer has on PS3 (and other Blu-ray player) sells. The back of the August 2007 PSM details the offer (pick one game from each category).

  • The Guardian, Pearl Harbor, Invincible, Chicken Little
  • Corpse Bride, Phantom of the Opera, Blazing Saddles
  • Stealth, Resident Evil 2, Underworld Evolution, Stir of Echoes
  • The Italian Job, Black Rain, Babel, Devil’s Rejects
  • Kiss of the Dragon, Omen 666, The Transporter 2, Species, Hart’s War, The Last Waltz

Not really a great offer; I thought maybe you would get to pick any five Blu-ray movies that had a certain MSRP, but it is still a very nice bonus. I bet Species tops the list – something special about boobies in HD.

I really believe that Sony needs to pack in a game or have some sort of free game offer. I doubt they will do either, but offering a mail in rebate for certain PS3 games (see list below) would help spur sells.

What about the games? At E3 we are sure to learn more about Lair (it is really in trouble?), Heavenly Sword (God of War with a sexy female?), LittleBigPlanet (will not be out anytime soon), Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (looks incredible), Warhawk (should be popular for online gamers), and finally Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. I may be the only gamer around that never played a Ratchet and Clank or Jack and Daxter game, but both of I bet I will try the new Ratchet, and Uncharted (from Naughty Dog) looks like a system seller.

I know there are a lot of PS3 fans excited about Home, but this is not something that really excites me. I have enough trouble keeping up this site, much less worrying about making my virtual PS3 home look exciting.

The biggest thing that Sony can do at E3 is announce some soft of software toolkit to help port games from PC/360 that allow developers to focus their efforts on taking advantage of the PS3 hardware. Or they are going to have to start offering free consulting services to the third party developers to help them with their porting efforts. Sony is not careful; they really run the risk of turning into the Nintendo 64 and Game Cube – great 1st party games, but no variety because of lack of third party support.

Will Sony get smart with third party support? That may be the biggest issue facing Sony, and the key factor in gaining some momentum for the PS3. Price drops are nice, free Blu-ray movies will help, a new rumble enabled Sixaxis controller will sell well, and a game pack in or mail in rebate would be an unexpected bonus. Helping out the third party developers and publishers is the only way I see for Sony to make up major numbers on Nintendo and Microsoft.

Next week should be darn interesting for PS3 owners.


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