Sony recently slashed the price of the PS3 by $50, bringing their entry level system (the 160GB model) down to an appealing $250. That's a whopping $50 cheaper than the competing 250GB Xbox 360. Will this be enough to slow down the escalating sales of Microsoft’s gaming machine? I think not, and here’s why.
First off, let’s take a quick look at what you’re getting in the box. Let’s not forget that the Xbox 360 comes packed with a larger hard drive, as well as a headset, making the $50 disparity not quite so bad. On the other hand, one might argue that the PS3 is the better deal, pointing out the fact that the system comes packed with a Blu-ray drive. However, the only real benefit to having this drive is the ability to play Blu-ray movies. Even then, with everything going digital and the soaring popularity of Netflix, this type of content is fading fast. Oh yeah, if you’re going to mention the fact that the size of a Blu-ray disc allows developers to fit all that content on a single disc, just remember how trivial swapping discs really is.
Another major issue for Sony is their games lineup this holiday season. Having said that, I’m sure most of you will throw Uncharted 3 in my face, but the reality is that while the franchise may be one of the best of this generation, it lacks the same level of popularity that Gears of War and Halo have. Sony may have more exclusives, but in the end, the consumers speak with their wallets. Only a fool will argue that Uncharted 3 will sell more than Gears of War 3 or Halo Anniversary. Let’s take a look at some of the other Sony exclusives that will serve as compelling evidence to purchase a PS3. Resistance 3 and the already released inFamous 2 will likely sell well, but nowhere near the level of a typical Microsoft exclusive. These games lack the brand recognition and solid online community necessary to drive sales. Not only that, but with Twisted Metal being delayed until February of next year, Sony’s holiday lineup isn’t quite as compelling as it once appeared to be.
Enough about exclusives, let’s take a look at the multiplatform titles set to launch later this year. The two big ones on everyone’s mind are Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3. While both will likely be fantastic games, Modern Warfare 3 is sure to sell more copies, and with exclusive content headed to the 360 first, the soon-to-be best-selling game of the year (if not of all time) will be best on Microsoft’s platform. So, even though the game is technically multiplatform, it’s easy to see how one might label it a Microsoft exclusive of sorts. On the other hand, DICE’s Battlefield 3 appears to be poised as more of a PC/PS3 game rather than a 360 title, having mainly been shown on a super-powered PC or the PS3. There’s no denying that Activision has been leaning towards Microsoft’s side of the playing field, while EA has swayed toward Sony. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Battlefield 3 will be more popular on the PlayStation 3. Let’s not forget that Xbox Live has a much more compelling online service that outshines the PlayStation Network in so many ways, making it the best place to play Battlefield online with your buddies.
In addition to its superiority in the online space, Microsoft has secured a number of timed exclusive content. With the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim DLC launching on the Xbox 360 first, as well as the previously mentioned content for Modern Warfare 3, Microsoft is really making a compelling case for playing multiplatform titles on its hardware. Don’t forget about the Xbox Live Arcade, which recently was stocked with a slew of quality titles thanks to Microsoft’s Summer of Arcade program. Sony simply can’t compete with Microsoft on the same level with their recently-announced own program, PLAY. The actions that Sony is currently taking only further reinforce the fact that they are playing catch up. As Microsoft continues to innovate, the Xbox continues to stay that much farther ahead of the Sony, a company that can’t find the time to innovate because they’re trying to replicate Microsoft’s services on their own console.
In the end, while the PlayStation 3 may have the more robust hardware, it can’t overshadow the fact that the software built into the Xbox 360 is leaps and bounds beyond the Xross Media Bar and PlayStation Network. The extra $50 it will cost gamers to pick up a 250GB 360 is well worth the investment considering the superior software they’ll be getting right out of the box.