The PS3 is a GREAT console. Great processor, strong exclusives, bluray, free online gaming, and more. But with all it's strengths, the road for the PS3 has been a rough one this generation. Here are some facts that Sony would rather consumers not know...
#1: Sony lost A LOT of market share from last gen to this gen. The PS2 used to be king... by a long shot. But with a slow start, the PS3 is fighting to keep within grasp of the second place 360. Sony still dominates Asia, and holds a slight lead in much of the world, but it has lost significant influence in the largest market of all: the USA. As total numbers of consoles go, the PS3 sits in 3rd place worldwide.
#2: Historically, most multiplatform games are better on the 360. They tend to be more stable and have better graphics, even if the differences are slight. Just about any game running on the Unreal 3 engine are great examples. Games like Mass Effect 2 show that parity is coming, but even then the one year old version running on an older engine is arguably just as good (each has it's ups and downs).
#3: Sony lost big money selling PS3 consoles. Ignoring software sales, Sony lost an estimated 300$ per console at release, 50$ per console in 2008, 40$ per console in 2009 when the Slim came out, and 18$ per console sold in Feb 2010. The PS3 was reported by Shuhei Yoshida to be finally breaking even for each console sold in June 2010. In contrast, Wii always sold consoles at a profit. The 360 sold at a loss of 126$ per console when it was released, and was breaking even after 1.5 years (compared to Sony's 4 years). To rub salt in the wounds, the 360 "slim" further increased profits per console sold and Kinect was sold at a reported 50$ profit per unit on release.
#4: Sony loses big money with its online PSN. One of Sony's big selling points is also hemorrhaging money. Nothing in life is free, but at least your gain is Sony's loss. Such losses make the money lost per console sold far higher than money lost due to selling consoles for less than the hardware costs. As such, the 360 becomes even more profitable than the PS3.
#5: Sony sells less software per console than the 360. Royalty fees from software sales is what finally allowed the PS3 to become profitable, but even there the PS3 has lagged behind the 360. VCGhartz estimates put the 360 at 9.4 units software sold per console. The PS3 trails at 7.2 units software per PS3 sold.
#6: PS3 failure rates are higher than Sony will admit, and 360 failure rates are lower than the "interwebz" would have you believe. 360 fail rates are undoubtedly higher than the PS3, but at least they do a better job standing behind their failed consoles with a solid warranty and prompt replacement.
#7: PS3 online gaming is being corrupted by hackers right now. You have to look no further than the COD series than to realize that with the recent compromise with PS3 security, PSN gaming has taken a hit with glitches and cheaters. One can only expect this to get worse if Steam services continue to expand and increase ties with the PC world... known for a strong hacking/glitching community.
#8: Blu-ray is slow. What the blue-ray does well is play movies and hold lots of storage space. What it does not do well is go fast. Copy speeds are slower than the 360 drive. Yes, games will fit on only one disk, but few games actually require more than one disk on the 360. And given the popularity of large hard-drives on new consoles, most games are best played when downloaded to your console, making multiple disks a moot point. Sadly, copying just takes longer on the PS3.
#9: Digital downloaded content is the way of the future, not blu-ray. A lot of people bashed Microsoft for sticking with it's DVD drive and not adopting Blu-ray. Microsoft countered by saying that digitally distributed content was the way of the future. These days Sony is linking with Steam, and even Mass Effect 2 was a day one digital download. At least Sony is doing a good job with their adoption of the digital model.
#10: Move is lagging behind Kinect. Moving into the casual market was a smart move for Sony and Microsoft. The problem is that the Move was too close to the Wii to really capture the imagination of the casual market (who probably had a Wii anyway). Kinect was unique, and better or worse, it stood out... and sold far better than the Move, in far lass time. The fact that Sony is quiet about actual sales to end customers like you and me is very telling... in a bad way for Move.
#11: Move has a weak game line-up. At the moment Kinect actually has a few decent games. All the good Move games are "coming soon". Move is all hype and no content at the moment. And on the subject of hype...
#12: PS3 exclusives are not living up to "fanboy hype." The PS3's largest strength at the moment is in it's large exclusive lineup (another very large cost to Sony...). Any Sony fanboy can send you a list of upcoming PS3 exclusives, and a much shorter 360 list. And to date, the exclusives that have been released are solid, and arguably the best showcase of what the PS3 can do. However, Uncharted 2 aside, PS3 exclusives have just not been living up to the hype of the PS3 fanboys. GT5 was not a game-changer. GOW was beautiful, but not revolutionary. LBP2 was solid, but more of the same. To be fair, these were all great games, but they were over-hyped, and gamers were left expecting more, and not appreciating what they had. When the reviews are finished at the end of 2011, don't be surprised to find out that games like Killzone 3 are just more of the same. Fans will scream bloody murder, and "play games not reviews," but at the end of the day the content will not match the hype. It never does.
#13: Sony is terrified of the next gen consoles. As outlined above, Sony has invested a lot of money in the PS3 and has adsorbed a large amount of loss to get the PS3 to where it is today. As such, for the PS3 to be a financial success for Sony, they need to extend the life of the PS3 as long as possible. The next Wii, and the next 360 will be out sooner since their consoles were far more profitable, and can thus afford to move to the next gen. They smell blood.
#14: Sony is already designing the PS4: Sony knows that the next gen Wii and 360 will be announced within a year or so (Wii desperately needs it, and the 360 will follow). As such they are surely smart enough to already have a team that is designing the PS4. Sadly for PS3 gamers, the losses Sony takes this gen will force Sony to sell the PS4 at less of a loss than the PS3. As such, to get a good price-point, Sony will have to cut back on hardware quality.
#15: PSN will eventually charge for multiplayer. Xbox Live is a proven cash cow, and Sony wants in. PlayStation Plus is testing the waters this gen. Expect paid PSN mutliplayer to begin with the next gen, and don't expect PS3 multiplayer to stay free at that point either. Sadly, hackers will be used as an excuse to charge for multi-player... because the increased patches and security will cost money. No more free online folks.
Stay tuned for the 15 dirty secrets of the Xbox 360...