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Context Sensitive: Who Is the PS3 For?

Susan Arendt | 11 Mar 2010 21:00
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At GDC this week, Sony unveiled the first trailer for its motion controller, now officially dubbed the Move. Confirming what we suspected when we first saw it demonstrated at E3 last year, the controller itself seems to be little more than Sony's take on the Wii Remote. And if the similarities were lost on you, one look at the trailer (which is such a blatant copy of Wii ads that I half-expected to see well-dressed Japanese gentlemen pop up and say they'd like to play) should be more than enough to connect those particular dots for you. Whatever identity Sony was building for the PS3 is now in complete freefall.

Don't believe me? Picture this: Joe Average walks into a store to buy a gaming console. I don't mean someone like you, who's really up on gaming and knows the differences between consoles down to the exclusives they each have; I mean just your average consumer who gleans information from commercials, store clerks and perhaps friends. We know why he buys a Wii - for the motion control, for Wii Fit, Wii Sports or because it's cheap. We know why he buys an Xbox 360 - because his buddies play Call of Duty or Halo over Xbox Live, or because the Wii feels too kiddy for him. But why does he buy a PS3?

The PS3 has had a serious identity crisis for almost its entire lifespan. At first, Sony presented it as an incredible piece of technology that would become the anchor piece of your entertainment center, so amazing in its capabilities that it was more than worth its $600 price tag. The fact that the PS3 played games was an afterthought, not nearly as important, Sony seemed to feel, as its ability to play Blu-ray movies. The public, however, didn't particularly care that it was a Blu-ray player, and the near-universal love people had for the PlayStation 2 didn't seem to carry over the way Sony hoped it would. Sony eventually reversed its stance and started treating the PS3 as an incredibly advanced game machine that, oh yeah, also played Blu-ray movies.

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