PS3: Finally Worth The Price

By Doug Thompson

Sony’s PlayStation 3 is finally what it should have been when it launched in late 2006: A pricey but still affordable game system with the kind of games it needs to show off its horsepower.

Reader beware: I don’t own a PS3. Then again, I never had any reason to until the last couple of months.

The Blu-ray based PS3 had its price cut, something that’s getting all the attention from analysts. The cut clearly didn’t hurt. No denying that. The far more encouraging trend to my mind, however, is “Demon’s Souls.”

I hold this strange belief that a game console is nothing but a way to get to your game. Therefore, I’ve always looked at the games you can play on a platform when I evaluate one. I don’t care about pixels or sound or technical horsepower and such stuff that seem to fascinate analysts and fanboys alike. The question is always the same for me: Can this console give me access to something good my Windows computer cannot?

The PS3 flopped for years because it was the most expensive console of this generation but gave you access to the most limited game library of any major platform. That was the problem. That was always the problem. It wasn’t the price alone of the PS3, the novelty of the Wii or “Halo” for the Xbox 360 or all the other stuff that fascinated the business press.

“Souls” won’t be a cure but more of a harbinger: A herald of future success if you will, a bigger, better version of what “Lair” should have been.

“Souls” is one of those big, incredibly long and involving fantasy games. Those really aren’t my cup of tea, but I respect their intensity, depth and ability to draw astounding commitment from talented artists. I’m glad I own “Oblivion,” for instance, but plowed through the main quest mainly out of stubbornness. I have no strong interest in ever doing “Oblivion” again.

Still, I like to collect pretty things. After reading a rave review of “Demon’s Souls” I looked it up to see when the personal computer version was coming out.

As far as I can tell, there are no immediate plans for a PC port. I’m confident there will be some day, but this baby’s a Sony game and a PS3 exclusive for the foreseeable future.

That’s the first time that’s ever happened: A game came out I wanted that I can’t have without a PS3. And no, I don’t want “Metal Gear Solid 4.” From everything I’ve seen and read, that production is an hours-long self indulgence by its designer and more of a Blu-ray movie than a game.

Now consider that “Uncharted 2: Among Thieves” is getting even better reviews than “Souls.” It’s a PS3 exclusive, too. “God of War III” is coming out early next year on PS3 only. “InFamous” was released back in May. That exclusive is reportedly pretty good.

These games and even the prospect of “God of War III” will sell consoles this Christmas. This will — hopefully — grow the customer base of the PS3 to the point that game publishers can’t ignore it. There are already signs of that happening. For instance, the press leaks and early catalog posting strongly indicate that “Mass Effect 2” will come to the PS3 also. Well, that and the fact that the franchise’s new owner has an established in-house shop for making PS3 versions of Xbox and PC games.

More exclusives for the PS3 and fewer exclusives for its real competition, the Xbox 360; this is what Sony has needed for years.

Let’s not get carried away here. No amount of future success will recoup the market dominance Sony enjoyed with the PS2 before the disastrous launch of the PS3. Sales of the PS3 are picking up, but the console will have to significantly outsell the Xbox 360 for years to just to pass it and become a distant second to the Wii. The low-tech Wii made money from the first day it sold. The advanced PS3 lost a lot for years, hoping to make up for the hardware loss leader by selling a bunch of games and opening up big sales of Blu-ray movies. It didn’t.

From the gamer’s point of view, however, the PS3 has finally come into its own. ‘Bout time.

Categories: Features