Will This Be Sony’s Last Generation?

The PS3 can last a while because of its efficient and powerful design—I wouldn’t be surprised if they skip next generation entirely. But there’s something ominous about the way Sony is handling their systems and games as we approach the holiday season—and laying off half of their PR team simply adds fuel to the fire. With less money put into PR and holiday marketing, along with a lack of news that gamers want to hear, Sony could be at the top of a steep hill down. This might be Sony’s last generation in the games market.

It seems like Sony is going the way of the Kodak camera. Although they initially outclassed many of the other systems on the market by offering incredible hardware, the XBOX 360 offered a significant leap in graphics that put it ahead of Nintendo and arguably on par with the PS3. From this new vantage point, Microsoft cut into Sony’s niche of high-quality, high-priced, exclusive games…while lowering the entrance fee. Even if Sony’s hardware is a better bargain for the price, because it barely outperforms the gaming capabilities of the XBOX 360, it can’t compete with the XBOX 360’s price.

The lackluster sales of all of their current-generation systems may have pushed them into a rut that discourages their continued involvement in the games industry. Sony hasn’t always focused on gaming: cameras, HD televisions, and those archaic things called ‘CD players’ used to be their main industry. Those industries were pretty solid, and excluding the bit about CD players, they had a solid company model. In the past few years the games industry has grown, but perhaps not as much as Sony had anticipated. It wouldn’t be unreasonable of them to choose now to dip out of the industry entirely.

It would explain why they insist on keeping the price of their systems high and why they have not revealed more details about the sequel to their current console. It would explain why they are emphasizing PS3 support for four or five years from now—giving the system a whopping 10 year lifespan. It would explain why they laid off half of their PR department leading up to the holiday season, essentially giving the Wii U a holiday victory. If they treat the PS3 like any other product of theirs—high quality, high price, but not necessarily high-selling—it would explain why they are ignoring the market.

Sony wouldn’t need to catch up to its competitors if it treated the PS3 like a small product and ignored the ventures of Microsoft and Nintendo with next generation consoles and technology. The PS3 could just stay as it is for some time before its users finally put it away or sell it like an old stereo set. To them, it doesn’t need to be replaced–it just needs to find a way into consumers’ homes and stay there. With the PS3’s current technology, nothing quite outclasses it. The Wii U is impressive, but barely beats it as far as specifications are concerned. The XBOX performs the same way, but the expensive PS3 ironically has more value. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sony sits out next generation, or even quits the chase entirely to work in other areas of the technology field.