January 3rd, 2019, 17:03 Posted By: wraggster
The games industry moves pretty fast, and there's a tendency for all involved to look constantly to what's next without so much worrying about what came before. That said, even an industry so entrenched in the now can learn from its past. So to refresh our collective memory and perhaps offer some perspective on our field's history, GamesIndustry.biz runs this monthly feature highlighting happenings in gaming from exactly a decade ago.
The power of imagination
Being a top executive for a platform holder means putting a happy face on things, even when the business isn't going great or the public narrative surrounding your system turns negative. I get that, and I have a certain amount of sympathy for people who are told to go out in public and polish a turd with a smile on their face, particularly when that turd is not of their own making. But during the early years of the PlayStation 3, Sony execs were taking things to another level.
First of all, they didn't have a lot of work with. The PS3 trailed the Xbox 360 to market by a year, cost hundreds of dollars more, and its multiplatform games tended to run worse than their counterparts on Microsoft's machine. By this point in the cycle, Nintendo had sold 45 million Wiis and Microsoft moved 28 million Xbox 360s. Sony wasn't shouting its PS3 installed base from the rooftops, but adding up their quarterly reports to that point nets a total of 19.2 million systems sold. Respectable, but not where people expected it to be given Sony's utter dominance during the PS2 generation. Oh, and PS3 hardware sales were declining.
In short, Sony Computer Entertainment head Kaz Hirai didn't have a lot to work with when it came time to talk to the press about the PS3's position in the marketplace. But he wasn't about to throw in the towel. Even though Sony wouldn't adopt "make.believe" as its corporate slogan until a bit later in 2009, Hirai had already embraced the new mindset. He wasn't going to let little things like social norms or respect for himself and the people he was talking to get in the way of his job. Instead, Hirai was going to insist that PlayStation was still the "official" industry leader in an interview with the no-quotation-marks-needed Official PlayStation Magazine.
"This is not meant in terms of numbers, or who's got the biggest install base, or who's selling most in any particular week or month, but I'd like to think that we continue official leadership in this industry," Hirai said.
So how was Sony the leader? Well by Hirai's reckoning, Nintendo operates in "a different world" and its video game console was not a competitor with Sony's. The Wii catered to a different audience than the PS3, so let's be gracious and give him that one. Now about the Xbox 360?
"And with the Xbox - again, I can't come up with one word to fit," Hirai explained. "You need a word that describes something that lacks longevity."
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