Let's get this out of the way up front; the PS3 Slim is one sexy piece of gaming equipment. As a gamer, I appreciate it's merits as a stylish, portable, inexpensive console that plays host to some of the hottest upcoming titles in gaming world. But just being cool isn't enough. Sony is relying on the Slim to lift their gaming division out of a 3 year, 4.2 billion dollar slump and return them to profitability. And, unfortunately, it doesn't look like the Slim is going to have what it takes to do that.
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Yes, I realize the Slim is the #1 pre-order on Amazon.com right now. And that's wonderful for Sony, but when the hype dies down they're going to have to deal with the same old problem; the economy is bad and the PS3 is still the 'expensive' console. The Slim retails for $300, which puts it equal with the Xbox 360, still more expensive than the Nintendo Wii ($250).
That still isn't a very good position to be in during a recession, and it's about to get even worse. Profits are down across the gaming industry, and console sales are in total freefall, industry hardware sales were down 38% in June. The Wii saw a 45% drop, and the PS3 sales have been down all year. Only the Xbox 360 is still selling well, and they are still posting very slow growth.
All of the 'big three' console manufacturers are feeling the sting of this economy. Sony was just the first to make a big move to stimulate buyers. All it will take is a small drop in price for the Xbox 360 to return Sony to its position as the costliest console. The holiday season is coming soon, and Sony has already played their big sales-stimulating hand. Special Xbox holiday pricing from Microsoft could be enough to spell doom for Sony in Q4 2009.
The Slim really should have been released back during E3. iSuppli analyst Pamela Tufegdzic stated that lower prices back then would likely have stimulated better sales this summer. As it stands, the Slim won't have much time to sell before Microsoft and Nintendo announce THEIR big holiday deals. Don't get me wrong; the Slim will probably end up profitable, but it's not going to be enough to pull Sony Gaming out of the bog it's been mired in since 2006.
What might are some very big changes to their current policy towards developers. Sony has a reputation for being incredibly expensive to develop for. Activision has threatened to stop making games for them due to the high costs, and companies have had to bail on games in development due to the expense of working for Sony.
This is an issue that needs to be addressed right now. The PS3 needs a massive, steady stream of new titles in order to stay viable. This doesn't just include huge, big-budget games like “Heavy Rain”. Cheap, independent game manufacturers who put out high-quality casual games are responsible for a hell of a lot of money these days. Look at the Nintendo Wii. Casual gamers are where the profit is in this industry. It's past time for Sony to start sucking up to them. That will stand them in better stead than a dozen releases like the PS3 Slim.
Now, that all said, if you like the titles on the PS3 and you're looking for a great deal on a console, the Slim kicks all sorts of ass. You can pre-order on Amazon, although you might want to hold on to see if that 250 GB Slim becomes a reality.