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PS3Blog.net | January 20, 2018

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Henning’s PS3 Soapbox: Sony Must Now | PS3Blog.net

First Sony ships a (60GB) console without rumble controllers and with backwards compatibility (BC) to PS2 and PSOne titles. Then they release a console with less BC (60GB in Europe, 80GB elsewhere). Then they announce rumble controllers, but say that they’ll be sold separately. Then they announce 40GB consoles with no PS2 BC whatsoever. (They still have PSOne BC.) And it won’t include the rumble controllers.

At first you could argue that this mishmash of different consoles is confusing to the consumer, but I would argue that in theory it’s no more confusing than Microsoft’s multi-SKU approach. After all, their 360 Core console has no BC. But it’s the way that Sony is going about things that is confusing. They’re not communicating clearly what they’re doing and why. And it’s really quite frustrating. 60GB North American price drop! Cool! Wait a sec… That’s because they’re phasing it out? Oh now you tell me!

The lack of BC wouldn’t annoy me so much if the current BC in my 60GB NA PS3 worked better. I can’t play the Guitar Hero games, because the guitar doesn’t work with the PS3. I can’t play some very timing-sensitive games like Frequency because my PS3 (or digital HDMI in my TV?) introduces lag that I don’t get on my PS2. Lastly, some games just don’t run on my PS3, like F1 2001. So I still need to keep my PS2 hooked up to play PS2 games, which I do quite often. But it would be nice if my PS3’s BC really worked.

Sony needs to get their messaging clear this holiday season and beyond. Consumers need to understand what they’re getting, and why. Plus they need to clear up this whole DualShock 3 mess. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Offer Two Clearly Differentiated PS3’s
    I don’t have a problem with a multi-SKU approach, but I think that Sony should be limited to two. One high-end, tap-dancing machine with full backwards compatibility for those who don’t have the BC issues I do. And one lower-priced machine that is still quite capable, but without BC. I think it is a mistake for Sony to give up on BC so quickly. If it costs more to include BC, then only include it in the higher-end SKU. Makes sense. And when I say “two PS3’s” I mean that we should only have two PS3’s on the shelves, and on our minds, at the same time. And I know that some people might not agree with me on this one, but I say: introduce new SKU’s quickly. If you phase out the 60GB SKU, the 80GB one better be on sale the same day the 60GB one runs out. And only announce it the previous week. You know, like Apple. It’ll require that you hold a secret better than you do now, but it’s worth it in the long run.
  2. Don’t Confuse Us
    When you drop an SKU, please tell us why. Be honest and upfront about it, and tell us what’s going to replace it, if anything. Don’t leave us in the lurch, unable to figure out whether or not we should buy a current SKU or wait for a new one. And please don’t say “We have no plans to decrease the price” when in fact you do. It’s better to have a strict policy where you say something like “We cannot comment on future product decisions”. At least that’s honest.
  3. One Controller Only
    Dump the current SIXAXIS. Stop making them. Only make the DualShock 3, and include it in all SKU’s. The whole multi-controller approach is simply not fair to the consumer. Forcing the gamer to buy an extra controller to rumble is mean. Just plain mean. Don’t do it. I could go on and on, but I won’t. This one is pretty clear.

Just three things. I think that’s all it takes for Sony to start sending a clear, consistent message that gamers understand and will applaud Sony for.

Other Soapbox Rants

  • Problem is, you are just a blogger that didn’t do all that research they obviously did, that would ultimatly lead you to the conclusion that this makes all perfect sense. To me this looks almost like, hey we can not tell the customer the whole truth. Just tell them what’s happening the next 14 day max. Otherwise they would eventually make the wrong decision.

    Btw, couldn’t agree more with you. Main problem with SCE is the highly regionalized product management which leads to different SKU’s in the regions even though they just differ a little. What’s the point in having 20 GB more in the US ??? Or look at the dozens of websites SCE is hosting under different control which almost looks like you are dealing with different companies.

  • JimmyStewart

    I think Sony sticking behind a console could help it’s public image. It has gotten to the point that if you don’t like a PS3 wait a few days and there’s likely to be a new version. We lost the 20, gained an 80, lost some emotion gained some software emulation, gained a controller… And that’s when I stopped trying to keep up. As long as my current PS3 works I’m happy. I agree though, it can’t help to keep customers happy with it all. I’m confused and I consider myself to be somewhat up on the goings on in the video game world… God only knows what the average consumer would think.

    But the main complaints about backwards compatibility… I’m not really sure that’s an issue. Or at least as a large of an issue as people would seem to believe. It think the vast majority of people are like myself… we want backwards compatibility only until we have it. Then we never use it! It’s like a stat they released on the 360 at one point… that the only games people were actually playing were Halo 1 and Halo 2. All the rest of the backwards compatibility stats showed people initially booting up a game… and then never playing it again. And true to that stat on my 360 I’ve played quite a bit of Halo 2 and some Halo… but I’ve never really played anything else. I’ve launched a couple of games to make sure they work, but they always went right back on the shelf.

    As for the PS3, there is an argument to be made for BC in that we’re still waiting for any real great games in any sort of numbers. So far I’ve purchased Heavenly Sword and Resistance… for the bulk of the past year the only PS3 game I’ve had has been Resistance. So most of what my PS3 has been used for has been playing PS2 games. In the basic wasteland of PS3 games I found a list of great PS2 games I missed and then played through God of War 2, Katamari and Dragon Quest 8. And don’t get me wrong… it was fun and it gave my PS3 some life. But now that the release schedule for the PS3 actually has some promise… I really don’t see the need for the BC. I think the PS3 is finally getting to the point that there are enough games on the horizon to say we won’t really have to look backwards anymore.

    As for the controllers… my only hope is that they’ve stopped making the Sixaxis and are only using up the remaining supply that they’ve already produced. I have some faith that eventually the DualShock 3 will become the stock PS3 controller. But again I agree with the point… it’s just more confusion and potential anger for the consumer and Sony could do well to do away with it.

  • JimmyStewart

    “Problem is, you are just a blogger that didn’t do all that research they obviously did, that would ultimatly lead you to the conclusion that this makes all perfect sense. To me this looks almost like, hey we can not tell the customer the whole truth. Just tell them what’s happening the next 14 day max. Otherwise they would eventually make the wrong decision.”

    I don’t think that’s entirely fair to Henning. So far those researchers for Sony haven’t exactly done a bang up job figuring out what makes perfect sense. I’d put my hands in “just a blogger” any day over what the minds at Sony have come up with so far.

  • Spot on, Henning.

  • I think they are repositioning themselves with a 2 sku approach that makes more sense to them and is cheaper to produces. Once upon a time, there was the 20gb lacking wifi and cardreaders, and the 60 gb. They both were costly due to the emotion engine and graphics synthesizer chips inside for BC, on top of supply issues.

    Now they seem to have developed an easier to deal with option for themselves. A 40gb thats significantly cheaper and lacks BC for PS2, and an 80gb PS3 that has limited compatability. Sony said they will continue to offer an option for those who want Backwards Compatability. So you will have to buy one of the higher end models to get it. I am not bothered by a lack of BC because I only have a few big games that I actually would want to continue playing. However, because they are on the list of games that have issues on any PS3 model, BC is totally not a concern. I will opt for the 80gb, unless there are cheaper 60gbs still hanging around somewhere.

  • Huschke

    JimmyStewart wrote:
    “I’m not really sure that’s an issue. Or at least as a large of an issue as people would seem to believe. It think the vast majority of people are like myself… we want backwards compatibility only until we have it. Then we never use it”

    I use backward compatibility a lot. I love my PS2 games and keep in mind a bunch of great PS2 games have yet to be released. So taking BC off the PS3 or not even implementing it in the first place would have been terrible for me as I’m not willing to switch controllers and systems all the time.
    Pah!, just thinkg about using the old PS2 controllers with their ugly wires all over the place makes me sick :o) .

  • MeeToo

    This is the reason why I keep comming back in this site… I love reading some ranting.

  • LarryG60

    You may want to include backwards compatibility with older 1080i displays to your rant. Not very many gamers understand that the PS3 won’t scale 720p only games to 1080i on older TVs that don’t support 720p but scales them down to 480p. Sony hasn’t been to open as to what or if there will ever be a solution to the situation. It’s very difficult to justify purchasing PS3 game at $60 just to play them at 480p when you can buy the PS2 version at $40. The Xbox 360 (no matter which SKU) will scale its games to what ever resolutions you select.

  • JimmyStewart. I guess you didn’t get the sarcastic connotation of the post. It is just the other way round. Never mind 😉

  • Sporty

    I’ve heard that several times. And tried it on 2 older 1080i/480p sets myself. A Toshiba and I have a Wega myself, and I can’t for the life of my get it to downscales like some people claim. Only way it does downscale to 480 is if I screw up the settings and turn off 720p in settings on the PS3, which is a pretty stupid thing to do. Since all 1080i sets except 720p and scale themselves you shouldn’t have a problem unless you have composite or turn off 720p under display. Both of which are user problems.

  • One of the biggest problems that Sony needs to fix with the PS3 is the 3rd party games.

    Far too many games are inferior to the 360 version and are always out much later on the PS3.

    Sony needs to get something done about this as it’s caused enough damage already.

  • Sporty: the problem is that not all 1080i television sets accept a 720p signal. So the PS3 must convert to 1080i or 480p before emitting the signal. And the PS3 can’t convert from 720p to 1080i.

  • As Henning said, older (mostly CRTs afaik) tvs do not accept 720P at all, so it is either 480P or nothing… Thank god, HDReady forces tv producers to accept both 1080i and 720P.

    Hm… I am still not sure, what to think about no PS2 BC… All in all, the consumer now has a very “cheap” (cheap as in 200€ less than before, which still is 1/3 of the original price) model, which is always an advantage. But now, Sony cannot (at least not without a partially working software emulator) release any PS2 games for download, and thus damage their own income stream. Maybe, they will release a software emu for special games (i.e. GT or other big sellers) and then sell them via PSN.

    And, Sony should get more global… They already started this when forming SCEWWS. Why the hell does SCEE still suck when releasing on time? I mean, Lair is already out in Asia, yet NOT HERE… And not to mention PSN… And, we have no official site for complaints (bare threespeech, which also is nothing official). There’s still no Tekken Online, no Blast Factor AR… stuff that was released weeks ago in the US and Japan, yet not in Europe. Not that I would buy it, but why wait that long, you alienate your whole customer base (MS does a much better job here!!)

    And don’t get me started on the DualShock3 issue… Why the heck do they announce it and at the same time “delay” it in Europe and the US until spring 08? I mean, COME ON. A pad is a non issue production and assemblywise, yet they do not want to release it here on time (yes, Sony wants to sell out all Sixaxis first, but just lower the price, 50€ is TOO MUCH for that)… I am very pissed about this subject!

  • Real Gambler

    Segitz: In most countries, HDReady is just a marketing term, not a standard that forces tv manufacturers to accept BOTH 1080i and 720p!!! You will get many tvs that have the HDReady logo on it, but some of those will only accept 1080i and not 720p and vice-versa… So beware where you’re buying your tv from! Who knows, with game now ouputing 600p or 640p (not that far from 576 pal signal) and being sold as HD, I guess anything is fair. Maybe 577p could be HD since it’s one line more than before…

    Back to the subject: I do not agree with point 1 and 2 for almost the same reason:

    1: “It’ll require that you hold a secret better than you do now, but it’s worth it in the long run.” With internet anonymity today, and business that have thousands of employes, there’s no such thing as holding a secret any longer.

    1: “I think it is a mistake for Sony to give up on BC so quickly” Sony is not giving up on BC… It’s still available. If you care about it, you buy a model with BC… (And as many people have said, I do think it’s worth it). But if you cannot afford a PS3 unless it’s the cheapest model, then go for the cheapest model. There’s enough great games coming out right now to make you forget about PS2 games : )

    2: “And please don’t say “We have no plans to decrease the price” when in fact you do. It’s better to have a strict policy where you say something like “We cannot comment on future product decisions”.” Again I blame it on internet… Saying “we cannot comment on something” will start the news frenzy with title like: “It’s coming, they have not denied it!!!!” Sadly, it’s true for everything today… They say: “This game is exclusive” and it means it’s exclusive but only for a while. They say “We cannot tell you if this game will be exclusive or not”, and suddenly, on internet it becomes “The game will likely be available for every consoles, mobiles, and blenders in your area”

    Now, point 3 is absolutely TRUE… You could even add that it’s totally stupid to release it in Japan first. How many of those controllers will be shipped out of the country???? Do a worldwide release and save many of us the shipping cost. So yes, kill the old controller. Include the new one with the PS3. Go Go Go : )

  • Apple seems to do a pretty decent job of keeping a secret. Sony should be able to as well.

    We don’t know what Sony’s plans are regarding BC. Sony has said that the 60GB PS3 will no longer be made for the European market, though they have lots of supply left for now. That’ll leave only the BC-less 40GB PS3 in the European market. Sounds like giving up to me.

    “We cannot comment on future products” works perfectly fine as long as you consistently use it. It works for other companies, it should work for Sony as well.

  • Darrin

    PS2 BC works great. Just a few exceptions:

    Guitar Hero: Doesn’t support controllers.
    Frequency/Amplitude: I don’t have lag issue that you mention, but the new L2/R2 buttons are too spongy for this game. You can use the face (shape) buttons, but those are much slower.

    Other than that, myself, and family members have logged dozens of hours on my PS3 playing PS2 games without any any quirks or problems (GTA:SA/LCS/VCS, RE4, R&C, Odin Sphere, Grim Grimoire, FFXII, Okami, GoW1+2, Lego Star Wars, and others).

    Overall PS2 BC is awesome. The big problem is that they are dropping it in new models.

  • derrickgott007

    On ANY of the PS3’s that have B/C there is also another B/C problem:

    Support for the Logitech Driving Force Pro is spotty at best.

    1.) Toca Race Driver Series: While playing it will just go full throttle and you have no steering input and the controls on the wheel are affectivly dead.

    2.) Nascar 07: Same problem as above.

  • Real Gambler:

    Yes and no… Problem is, there is no standards institution checking if the TV companys abide the laws or not. HDReady requires at least three things, which are 1080i and 720P input (and 720P MUST be displayed natively) and a DVI or HDMI input with HDCP support.

    There are some (or rather many) TVs that have the HDReady logo, but do not support some of these standards (many Plasmas do not support native 720P for example). I find this a bit sad, tbh, but we as consumers can choose to buy or just not to buy… Problem is, many “casuals” have no idea what to get though

  • What I find a bit worrysome is, that that MS guy “knew” about Sonys plan, when he made that bet with N’Gai… I mean, he got 3 things right. 40GB, no BC and the price… Where does he know this from? Pure guessing? I doubt it, as (back then) BC was high on Sonys cards… Strange stuff, I tell ya!