This is a well written and interesting article from Insomniac Games Chief Creative Officer Brian Hastings, listing ten reasons why they think the PS3 will win the current ‘next-gen’ console war, at this point between Sony’s PS3, Microsoft’s XBox360, and Nintendo’s Wii.
This is a refreshing read since Sony seems to get a lot a negative press on their approach and strategy, mainly as a resulting of (in my opinion) pushing the limits and going out there with radical ideas and approaches. Sony as a company has never been a company to listen to their customers and sell products to meet their customers needs – their approach has always been invent or develop some new radical product and then put it out on the market and see what happens. This has always been their approach, and it has worked for them time and time again (this approach is covered in the book Built to Last – Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, by Jim Collins if you’re interested to read more.)
Microsoft is still playing catch up to Sony, despite having their XBox360 on the market for a year ahead of the PS3. The features that they initially downplayed in the PS3 as not important or features consumers would not want they are slowing being adding to the 360 in new add-ons and new models. The 360 did not have next-gen storage media, but now they have added an external HD-DVD drive (for additional cost) to match the PS3’s integral Blu-ray drive (and wait and see – as the Blu-ray format continues to outsell HD-DVD, an external Blu-ray drive will soon be available for the 360 also). The 360 did not have HDMI HD output, but now in the ‘Elite’ 360 model announced this week, this model will have HDMI output. The ‘Core’ 360 model does not even have an hard drive, and the ‘Platinum’ only comes with 20GB. This has again been addressed by Microsoft by announcing a 120GB drive in the new Elite model (the PS3’s hard drive incidentally is a standard 5400rpm notebook drive and can be easily replaced with any available sized drive by opening the flap and slotting a new one in).
Microsoft’s approach is definitely typical of the Microsoft strategy. Sell multiple versions of the product with an increasing feature set across the price points. Overtime more software will be developed to take advantage of the newer features on the higher-end models, which will force early adopters of the initial models and lower price models to upgrade so they can use the newer software – i.e. buy newer hardware. At least with the PS3 you can buy either model and not be left out and unable to run software because it is only compatible with the higher end model.