Sony and The Madonna Principle

The latest in what seems to be a never-ending assault on the very concept of common sense by those in high places at Sony Entertainment came yesterday as it was rumored by several usually reliable sources (and not denied by Sony) that the entertainment media giant is planning to restrict sales of used copies of PS3 games.

Why this seems ridiculous: It's practically impossible unless the company were to implement severe hardware/software restrictions on how one could use any given game. In other words, they would have to require software authorization for each game, locking it to one specific console only, thereby rendering the software useless on any other machine.

Why it's even remotely plausible: Sony owns a patent for the technology which would make this scheme a possibility.

Original Comment by: Dom Camus

Aside from providing a fine opportunity for XBox 360 and Wii fans to laugh at Sony, there recent activities do offer some interesting insights into their mode of thinking. Their take on the new generation (can I say that now instead of "next generation" ?) seems to be that the expense is becoming a problem. So they're trying to control their costs by pricing the console high and trying to keep game revenues up by changing the terms on which we play the games.

For obvious reasons, we as gamers find both measures annoying. That doesn't mean Sony's wrong.

The other aspect is that much as we'd like Sony to regret this kind of behaviour, we don't want things going too badly for them. Competition is good - do we really want another market in which Microsoft holds a monopoly ?

Original Comment by: beta

... this has already been proven wrong ...

Original Comment by: Jon

A friend of mine suggested that the patent may be used for future leverage against retailers even if Sony doesn't go ahead with putting it into practice. They could demand a cut from retailers buying/selling used PS3 games for example.

As for the price being above mass-market levels and the execs' generally high-handed messages to the press so far, Sony might be trying to position PS3 as the "high-end" machine this time around. They're unapologetic about costs. They say things like "we will sell 5 million units regardless of what we have for release lineup games"... it's a very cynical strategy, but I think there's business sense behind it and all the PR focuses on the same message without really making a big deal about it. PS3 - initially at least - is for gamers willing to spend serious money on it. They're not trying to feel-good everyone into picking up the console, just the players who can afford the steep entry price and have a bunch left over for profit items like software and peripherals.

The real challenge is going to be convincing the mass market to "upgrade" from 360 to PS3 a year or two down the road... the same folks they locked out on the release year.

Original Comment by: Jalf

"So they're trying to control their costs"

Yeah, but making a console that costs $800 to manufacture? And which is essentially no better performer than the 360 at a $200 lower price?

"Competition is good - do we really want another market in which Microsoft holds a monopoly ?"

That's not likely to happen. I'm more concerned with whether Sony is going to keep dominating the market completely. It might not be a monopoly, but it comes close.


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