Hearing the Buzz
Sometimes it pays to just sit down for a few minutes in an area and listen to the buzz. I was at the "Into the Pixel" art exhibit (they have comfortable chairs) and I heard some people talking about the show as it closed for the day Thursday. One of the guys was saying that he doesn't know anyone that would pay $600 for a PlayStation 3 -- or any game console.
He also said there wasn't any game on PS3 that really stood out from Xbox 360 games. He said that while Heavenly Sword looked good, the fighting mechanics while in the air switch to a button-tapping rhythm game -- which he did not like.
Another guy was talking about the role of online games and basically said Microsoft owns that space through Xbox Live. His point was that since Microsoft has been in the online business with MSN since the early days, there's no way that Sony, as a newcomer, can compete with its PlayStation Network Platform for PS3.
Lastly, the conversation went to Wii.
These guys thought the console would appeal to the Nintendo faithful (and trust me, there are a lot of them), but he didn't see hard-core gamers going for the device. A Hollywood screenwriter who's working on a PS3 game said he likes the system, but was disappointed by the games Sony was showing. He thought Insomniac could have gone in a better direction with Resistance: Fall of Man.
I also talked to some other journalists, developers and publishers at the show yesterday. And from my own observations, it seems that Xbox 360 and PS3 games are pretty even. One journalist told me he was "underwhelmed" by the show in general, but thought Wii could put Nintendo back in the game.
Even a Nintendo exec, who said she was surprised that Sony announced the price of PS3 (I heard from analysts they did this because they didn't have enough games to show off), said the buzz for Wii was overwhelmingly positive.
Game developers and publishers who are working on PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the same game said the systems are equal. That means when you buy a game like John Woo's Stranglehold this fall, it really won't make a difference if you buy the Xbox 360 or PS3 version.
I had a chance to play some PS3 games yesterday. Gran Turismo HD is awesome. That's one franchise that Sony has always relied on for selling its hardware. But I have to say that Microsoft's FORZA Motorsport 2 for Xbox 360 really gives this game a run for the money.
With Konami's Metal Gear Solid 4 coming out in 2007, Resistance is likely the game that Sony will be pushing along with the new GT HD. I don't think the hard-core gamers will care much about the $600 price point. They didn't balk at the $400 Xbox 360. (I'm hearing Wii will come in at $250.)
But Sony needs to have a game that players "must have." I saw some great-looking games like Genji 2 and "Resistance," but I don't think I saw the killer app that Sony needs. And next-gen games are too expensive to develop for many publishers to provide many exclusives these days.
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