I feel fine.

Time Crisis 4 is a great way to relive stress. I can target practice and enjoy myself in a productive manner while releasing any work-related frustrations in a controlled manner. The first person shooter mode is a bit clunky but manageable, although it is not as fun as the traditional rails-on shooter. The storyline about the US Army creating a race of mutant bugs for weapons is a bit absurd as well as relying on two Eurotrash secret agents for saving America.

On another note, it was more surreal learning that the person who I replaced is working at a related company that I work with. It’s surreal and it shows how we sometimes live in a small world even without connections from myspace and facebook like most people these days. I think this can be another red flag for me and my career path.

Soul Plane 2 can be a very bad movie if it was ever brought on film:

Time Crisis 4 is great!

So after coming back from work at the end of a long trip, I find Time Crisis 4 delivered on my doorstep.  It is a step up from Time Crisis 3 with a FPS mode and a new feature to attack enemies on multiple screens.

The biggest change was working with the new Guncon 3, the official PS3 lightgun, which allows for shooting and the new first-person shooting mode.  Unlike the Wii Zapper, the Guncon3 does not use bluetooth to track its gun calibration.  Instead it uses two LED sensors to figure out where to shoot on the screens, which means I had to use up two PS3 USB ports for the game.

Overall, it is a fun shooting game that allows me to practice my basic shooting skills and to occasionally release work-related stress in a fun and controlled environment.  Pretending to be Eurotrash secret agents shooting up American terrorists has never been more fun!

Bladestorm – The 100 Years’ War demo

The demo was released today in the Japanese Playstation Store as a free demo, which was about 1GB in size.  In this demo you are only allowed to create an edit character that can play in up to 2 missions.   This edit character can be either a male or female with a series of preset faces and voices.  For my demo, I chose to make my character to have the face that resembled David Beckham.

The first mission involves a basic tutorial where you learn to take control of an army in a battlefield.  The armies you can use are swordsmen, knights, archers, longbowmen, and pikemen.  Unlike Kessen, which was purely a strategy game, Bladestorm allows you to directly participate in combat and command your troops at the same time with orders to charge, charge up and perform a special attack.  Your troop’s ability to generate kills and combos will directly impact your ability to command certain number of troops, troop type, and reputation among the NPC characters.   At the end of the basic tutorial you are deployed to a battlefield where you must take enemy bases.

The second mission is more of the same except you can control pikemen in addition to your existing troop types.  Much of the basic strategy involves staying in a safe distance while letting your troops do all the work with the occasional command to make special attacks coming from you.

The only gripe I had with the Bladestorm demo were the inability to skip through any cut scenes and for having only 2 missions despite being a 1GB download.

Some games I look forward on the PS3 are Metal Gear Solid 4, Time Crisis 4, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam, Civilisations: Revolution, and now Bladestorm.

さよなら、PS3の60GB版

プレイステーション3の業務執行は精薄だでした。

Translation: Playstation 3’s management is retarded.

Below is an article that sheds light on their recent retardation:

Sony to Discontinue 60GB Playstation 3

By Philip Silva

Fans of the Playstation 3 that wants to get the game console after the price drop should probably do so now. Only days after announcing a price drop on its 60 GB Playstation 3 console, an interview with the head of Sony Computer Entertainment International, Kaz Hirai, by a Norwegian game news outlet VGTV, revealed that Sony will be discontinuing the 60 GB Playstation 3.

At the recently concluded E3 Media and Business Summit, there was an initial confusion surrounding the price drop of the 60GB Playstation 3. Sony Computer Entertainment America has announced last Monday that it would be dropping the price of the 60 GB Playstation 3 then in an interview with gamespot, David Reeves, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe said that the price drop was merely a markdown of a model which has been discontinued. Hours later, a Sony Computer Entertainment America spokesperson said that what the press quoted from Reeves was not accurate.

The issue finally became clear in Hirai’s interview with the Norwegian game site. In the interview, he was quoted as saying, “From a hardware perspective, the $499 price adjustment we did for the 60GB version for the American market, we’re no longer in production for that product. Once that product is gone from the retailer shelves, then we’re back to a $599 SKU only, so it’s not like we have a two-price strategy in the US market. We found out very early on how consumers react to having just one SKU as opposed to two.”

The Sony Playstation 3 was at first available in the US in two models, the 20 GB model and the 60 GB model. The 20 GB Playstation 3 was then discontinued last April 2007 because there was no demand for it.

In the interview, Hirai said that Sony has still no plans to adjust the price of the Playstation 3 in other territories.

In the follow-up interview of gamespot, Dave Karraker, Sony Computer Entertainment America Senior Director of corporate communications has then confirmed the discontinuance but said that the 60 GB Playstation 3 will be available in North America for $499 until supplies last. He said that the company still has enough inventory in North America to last for several months to come.

Critics had said that the promotion of the $499 price drop and then not announcing the discontinuance amounted to bait. Karraker responded by saying that this was not “bait and switch” but they are offering the Playstation 3 at a lower price for months to come to allow consumers the opportunity to acquire the model at an adjusted price.

SOURCE:

Kaz Hirai Interview, URL: (http://atvs.vg.no/player/?id=10235)
GameSpot Rumor Control. URL: (http://www.gamespot.com/news/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=25772777&tag=top_stories;story;4)

Goddammit, the idiots selling the “PSTriple” have done it this time.  They first denied there was a price drop for the 60GB model like the Rape of Nanking when retailers such as Target, Sears and even Circuit City confirmed there was a price cut based on their leaked in-store marketing and print ads.

Next thing we know, Sony’s stock is taking a hit on the financial markets as a result of the news, which analysts predicted months before Sony made the move and it was also interpreted as a severe weakness on Sony’s inability to move their PS3 consoles to end users.

While many kids were rushing to their local Best Buys or Sears to buy the discounted PSTriple (including my friend), journalists covering E3 learned that it was not really a price drop but just a move to clear out a discontinued model to make way for the new 80GB PS3 containing software-based backward compatibility, which will now be the one and only Playstation 3 available on the world market.  Way to go on the “bait and switch” Sony!

Well, it’s always great to know that my 60GB PS3 with an emotion engine is now an obsolete piece of hardware.  Maybe it’s time I treat it more as a cheap blu-ray player with wireless Internet access.  Good thing I pre-ordered 300 for blu-ray and downloaded all the upscaling firmware updates so I can watch my DVDs in sharper resolutions.

The supposed price drop didn’t go too well with most of Sony’s major developers either.  SquareEnix was quoted as being unimpressed with the price drop while the head of Konami said it was not enough and implied MGS4 may no longer be a PSTriple-exclusive because of the console’s piss-poor sales.

On  the other hand, Nintendo had a strong E3 showing with the introduction of WiiFit, and Super Mario Galaxy, which seems to indicate that the company is positioning their modified GameCube as both a lifestyle machine to appeal to non-gamers and as a second console to supplement existing Microsoft Xbox360 users (sorry Sony).  It’s just times like these that I wished I had invested in Nintendo stock during the summer of 2006 and pre-ordered a Wii on buy.com instead of saving up for a PSTriple that was riddled with problems.

Sony’s E3, on the other hand, was lacking compared to Nintendo.  Although this year’s conference did not have any embarrassing soundbytes involving “Giant enemy crabs”, “$599”, or even “massive damage”, it really didn’t impress me at all.  Sure, they announced a revised PSP, which looked basically the same as the original that’s being crushed by the DS; some games that are also available on the 360; continued support for the PS2 (since it’s their only strong point right now); and the 80GB PSTriple but none of this was really impressive since it was predictable.  Besides, Microsoft managed to steal Sony’s thunder by nabbing exclusives while Nintendo kept it fun and simple through their innovations.  It was also noticeable to see Hirai Kazuo lose much of his American mannerisms and accent from last year after returning to Japan to replace Kutaragi Ken.

Playstation Network from Around the World

On a slow weekend, I learned from UK Playstation magazine of a trick to download PS3 demos and related content from non-American Playstation Stores. It was interesting as I kept reading various blog posts of PSTriple fanboys lamenting about their inability to download content from Europe, Asia and even Japan.

Here’s how to create accounts to access the Japanese, Hong Kong and UK PSN store:

1. Cut a Hole in the Box (Just joking)

First you will need to create an all-new user in your Playstation 3 in the users bar. One that is done you can go sign-up to a new Playstation Network account by choosing your country or region as Hong Kong, Japan or United Kingdom. Make sure you select “Master Account” and then enter in all the relevant information (you don’t need a valid email address) and follow the rest of the instructions.

You don’t need to enter in any billing information if you are just out to download region-exclusive demos or video content, so you can skip that section entirely. After the billing information is skipped or entered, you will be asked to confirm all your false information before your account is created. Once that is over you can chose your avatar and skip the survey section to immediately sign in using your region-specific account.

If you don’t know Japanese, you’re strongly recommended to creating an account for the Asia-Pacific region such as Hong Kong and the PAL markets such as the United Kingdom. This way, you will have a chance to memorise the right buttons and input fields before you try entering information for the Japanese account, which only displays in Japanese. Do not concern yourself with real information such as zip codes, home addresses or trying to type a Japanese or Asian name because the Account Registration process supports alphanumeric characters.

There should not be any compatibility issues with PAL downloads unless you are only connected to a TV using SD cables instead of a component or HDMI cable.

Some region-exclusives from the UK Playstation Store are a demo of Super Rub-a-Dub, a making-of featurette for F1 Championship Edition, while the Hong Kong store has a demo of Hot Shots Golf, free add-on packs for Ridge Racer 7, a trailer for Gundam Musou while the Japanese store has PS3 compatible PS1 downloadable games, and exclusive GT HD videos for Nissan and Ferrari. It’s really sad that one has to even make multiple accounts for specific regions just to download certain freebies from each store because Sony wasn’t smart enough to allow for global downloads. Granted the Japanese store does have content that is exclusive to their local culture, but much of the same content was sent to the Asian stores with no localisation and are doing quite well in those regions.

Some great downloads from this week’s Playstation stores, we Super Rub-a-Dub, which is extremely sensitive to the SIXAXIS controller; Ninja Gaiden Sigma, which gives us a remake of the demo stage from Xbox; Virtua Tennis 3, which only plays for 1 round; a Gundam Musou commercial in Japanese and GT HD videos showcasing Nissan and Ferrari.

With that note, tomorrow is One Day Blog Silence day in honour of those who were horribly murdered in Virginia Tech in America.

Silence can say more than a thousand words.

This day shall unite us all about this unbelievable painful & shocking event and show some respect and love to those who lost their loved ones.

On April 30th 2007, the Blogosphere will hold a One-Day Blog Silence in honor of the victims at Virginia Tech. More then 30 died at the US college massacre.

But it´s not only about them. Many bloggers have responded and asked about all the other victims of our world. All the people who die every day. What about them?

This day can be a symbol of support to all the victims of our world!

All you have to do is spread the word about it and post the graphic on your blog on 30th April 2007. No words and no comments. Just respect, reflect and empathy.

The End of the Playstation Era

http://www.forbes.com/2007/04/26/kutaragi-sony-playstation-face-marketes-cx_er_0426autofacescan01_print.htmlGame Over for Father Of The PlayStation
Evelyn M. Rusli, 04.26.07, 4:34 PM ET

Ken Kutaragi, the father of the PlayStation, stepped down as head of Sony Computer Entertainment on Thursday, falling victim to the disappointing sales of the PlayStation 3 and rising tensions between the executive and Sony Corp.’s top brass.

In an upbeat statement, the company announced that Kutaragi would stay on as an honorary chairman and senior technology adviser, while Kazuo Hirai, the current president of the key unit, would take his place as CEO and chairman.

“I am happy to graduate from Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.” said Kutaragi. “It has been an exciting experience to change the world of computer entertainment by marrying cutting-edge technologies with creative minds from all over the world. I’m looking forward to building on this vision in my next endeavors.”

Sony Corp.’s CEO, Howard Stringer, called Kutaragi a “rare combination of a powerful visionary and entrepreneur in one figure.”

But behind the bright harmony of the press release, there was reportedly a protracted tug-of-war between the high-profile executives.

Many believe that Kutaragi is another casualty in Stringer’s campaign to transform Sony into a leaner, more profitable and software-centric company.

The clash between Kutaragi and Stringer, which is said to have simmered since Stringer became CEO in June 2005, was typical of the collision between the old style of business at Sony and the new ethos Stringer is trying to foster.

In one corner stood Kutaragi, a 32-year Sony veteran who epitomized the independent and innovative spirit that was key to the company’s rise. As the father of three generations of the PlayStation console and the handheld version, he also represented the company’s longtime hardware and engineering focus.

In the other corner was Stringer, the new CEO eager to reduce each business line’s independence and bring about integration. Since his arrival, Stringer has “made it clear that software — and inter-unit cooperation — is a priority for his historically siloed and hardware-centric company,” Prudential Equity Group said in a March research note.

The ideological chasm that separated Kutaragi and Stringer may have been immaterial, if it wasn’t for Sony’s major financial setbacks, which likely pressured Stringer to act.

The PS3, with its high overhead costs, production shortage problems and low penetration rate, has stumbled against the attractively priced Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Xbox 360, falling to No. 3 in sales. While Sony sold 1.8 million consoles through the end of 2006, Nintendo sold almost double that: 3.2 million units.

The dissapointing console is expected to drag on Sony’s earnings for the remainder of the year: “it will be difficult for the Games division to achieve break-even status in fiscal 2007, as our analysis indicates that Sony is currently losing close to $300 per PlayStation 3 unit sold,” John McPeake, a Prudential Equity Group analyst, said in a research note last month.

In a harbinger of things to come, Stringer removed Kutaragi from the post of president of Sony Computer Entertainment last November, effectively cutting him off from day-to-day operations. (See: “Sony Shuffles Gaming Team”)

Kutaragi, known for his outspoken and independent management style, (See: “Exec Slams Sony Mangement for Failure to Exploit Content”) may have been perceived as a hurdle in reining in the embattled games division.

The lack of communication between the computer entertainment arm and the rest of Sony made Kutaragi a volatile element. According to an interview with Stringer in the Wall Street Journal, Kutaragi surprised his boss by exceeding production budgets. In one particularly illustrative moment, Kutaragi startled management with an impromptu 20% price cut for the Japanese 20GB PlayStation 3 model. “It wasn’t financially one of my best moments,” Stringer told the paper. “The budget implications were self evident. I agreed because I wanted the launch to be successful.”

Wrangles aside, Prudential analyst John McPeake said Kutaragi’s departure and Hirai’s ascension is a logical and positive step for the beleaguered company. “This management change is expected,” he said in an interview on Thursday. “Kutaragi was almost 60 years old and Kazuo Hirai has a good relationship with the game industry and game publishers.”

At the end of trading Thursday, Sony shares were down 1.9%, or $1.02, to $54.20.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The Playstation Generation is coming to an end as Nintendo uses a modified Gamecube and a touchpad-based handheld to regain their place in the videogame industry. It’s quite ironic since it was Nintendo’s stupidity that provoked Sony into entering the videogame business with an overhauled CD-ROM based console. Now it looks like Ken Kutaragi is being banished from the division he helped build and replaced with Kazuo “Ridge Racer!!!!!!!!” Hirai, which seems to reaffirm that the Peter Principle is in play.

This is living indeed as Sir Howard Stringer may have brought massive damage to Sony with a real-time management change in the face of giant enemy Wiis. It also gives both Microsoft and Nintendo many chances to attack Sony’s weakpoint to cause massive damage to gain even more market share in the console war. As of this writing, Microsoft appears to have dominated much of the market share with their 360 in North America, while sharing some of the market with Nintendo in Europe. However, Nintendo is able to secure their home market in Japan and crushing the once invincible Sony with just a modified Gamecube.

“IT’S RIDGE RACER!~ RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIDGE RACEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRR!”

“Fl0w is the killer-app for the PS3!!!”

“Yo yo yo! It’s da PSTriple!”

It’s quotes like these that give you an idea of the Playstation 3’s sad state.

Despite these problems, I agree with Stringer that Sony needs to do more to flex their corporate synergies and to develop their software division in the face of direct competition from Microsoft. Sony’s lack of software know-how clearly shows in their lack of content in their cross-media bar interface that is on the PS3 and other high-end Sony products, the lack of content in their Playstation Network, and their Playstation Home, which looks like an enhanced Second Life just for PS3 users.

On another note, it seems that any electronic product with the Sony brand has been crapping out as of late. My Japanese penpal informed me that his first generation PS2 had problems due to a “disc-read error” and he heard rumours that Sony products were built with limited lifespans, which would force consumers to buy the next version about 3-5 years after using the original version. It’s funny because that’s how my Sony Discman (1993) died around 1998, my dad’s Sony Home Theatre 5.1 Sound Encoder (2000) died last weekend (2007) and my first PS2 (2002) died in 2005.

From what I have seen so far in Sony’s management and from my Playstation 3, it’s safe to say that I will opt out of the Playstation 4 and get Nintendo’s modified Wii instead for the next system.

Its business as usual…

These past four days have been interesting in America, as White America continues to remain in shock over the killings and coming to terms with the Model Minority stereotype.  For those who are unfamiliar with race relations in America, the “Model Minority” stereotype is a stereotype applied to all ethnic Asians in America who are typically stereotyped as being hard-working, bearing ethnic idiosyncrasies, excellent in the areas of math/science, extremely passive, and willing to adapt to the White power structure more willingly than other ethnic minorities in America.

With that being said, Asians in America have been traditionally stigmatised as being “ethnic”, weak, sexless, a jack-of-all-trades in academics, and most of all subservient.  It is safe to say those perceptions of Asians came crashing down on many Americans when Cho Seung-Hui finally made his move to release all his pent up rage, insanity on a Monday morning.  It didn’t really sink in until NBC and other news outlets in the world decided to air key excepts of his “manifesto” which depicted him as an awkward Asian-American who had a great deal of anger and committed to killing those who wronged him (whoever they may be).

Soon, people started seeing these images started to realise that this man could be the kid that hangs out with their children, the guy they work with, the guy who helps them out or just a random acquaintance that happens to be an Asian male.  Now people will consider Asian males to not only be good in math or science, but also capable of extreme psychotic acts of violence.    So far, a few Asians have related on various forums that their co-workers have started to look at them weird and reluctant to socialise with them while others no longer feel safe when traveling around predominantly White neighbourhoods.

Then there are idiotic acts such as this:

http://www.xanga.com/kenoak

i’m at michigan state at a frat house. just got word that 16 cars outside the international house on campus got vandalized… windshields smashed in. 14 of those cars were owned by koreans. this is almost certainly related to the virginia tech shooting. i’m really upset about this….. really upset. the kids are playing beer pong………

I would advise readers and Americans to refrain from revenge attacks against Asians because they are not like Cho Seung-Hui.  Remember that people are people and Cho’s act was no different from what happened in Columbine other than his ethnicity.  Despite what I just said, I am sure I will be profiled like many of my Asian peers in America save for Hawaii or California (where there is a sizable Asian population).

With that out of the way, it’s back to bashing the crap out of Sony and the Playstation 3.  From what have been circulating in videogame industry rags and enthusiast blogs, it appears that Sony’s European division will be “heavily restructured” meaning it will be downsized and it comes as no surprise that some top managers in Sony Computer Europe decided to call it quits.  The sales for the PS3 in Europe have already started to freefall after record sales in the initial weeks to the point where retailers in the United Kingdom are selling the systems as a loss just to liquidate their inventory.

On the upside, Sony finally released firmware 1.70, which made improvements in backward compatibility with PSone and PS2 games, allowed for emulation of downloaded PSone games, and allowed for rumble in old Playstation peripherals.  However, the downloadable PSone games will not be available in May and its also good to point out that Sony had about 7 firmware updates in the past year compared to Microsoft’s 2 revisions for the 360.  These improvised updates just come to show that Sony’s Playstation division and OS programmers are indeed run by the legally retarded just like Virginia Tech’s security.

Then the hardware sales in Japan also tell a story:

http://kotaku.com/gaming/media-create/simple-2000-the-japanese-hardware-sales-chart-250404.php

Nintendo must have been gutted of DS Lite supply, as this week saw a noticeable drop off in sales from last week’s hardware chart. Is the honeymoon over? Has the nation of Japan turned against its handheld leader? Doubtful. But even Wii sales were down considerably, so maybe that Blue Ocean is experiencing a red shift.

Despite an approximate drop of 50,000 in weekly sales, the DS Lite still sits proudly atop this week’s Media Create sales figures.

  • Nintendo DS Lite – 79,897
  • Wii – 51,365
  • PSP – 39,077
  • PlayStation 2 – 17,787
  • PLAYSTATION 3 – 16,889
  • Xbox 360 – 3,889
  • Game Boy Advance SP – 609
  • Game Boy micro – 588

Did you notice that PS2 sales exceeded PS3 sales? That may be due to Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+ and Musou Orochi selling so well. Still, ouch.

So the Playstation 3 is still being crushed by a modified Gamecube and being cannibalised by their own Playstation 2.  It’s interesting to see how the top two sellers in Japan last week were the Nintendo DS and Wii followed by a portable PS2 and the PS2 itself while the PS3 is barely close to the PS2′ sales.  One would think that Gundam Musou would have boosted the PS3’s sales, but it really did little in the long-run.

It has reached the point where some random people can cultivate an Internet following just by creating a running gag pretending to be an uneducated PS3 fanboy:

So despite all of the obscenity-laced rant about Wii games and Devil May Cry no longer being a PS3-exclusive, the video points out that the “PSTriple” doesn’t have any good games worth talking about and parodies the fanboys who go on bashing popular games on the Wii or 360.  This was supposed to be a one-time joke by the Chad Warden fellow, but many of the PSTriple fanboys were actually dumb enough to use this video in defending their $600-plus investment in what can now be considered more of a “cheap” blu-ray player (assuming Sony can win that format war).

Speaking of stupidity, Taiwan Province decided to make a prank call pretending to be attacked by a killer in a university just to test police response time about three days after Monday’s shootings:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6571361.stm

Two MPs who faked a hostage-taking at Taiwan’s top university after the US school shootings have been condemned by the island’s governing party.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) made a public apology after two MPs reported that students had been taken hostage at National Taiwan University.

Armed police rushed to the campus, only to be told that the call was a hoax aimed at testing their response time.

The pair may face disciplinary action, but have defended their action.

Police who rushed to scene found Lee Chen-nan and another legislator, Lin Kuo-ching, on campus with a number of reporters.

The hoax drew sharp criticism from the DPP, which issued an apology, and from Taiwan’s cabinet, which said authorities would investigate whether the MPs broke any laws.

Why is Taiwan Province turning into a goddamn living joke to the point where Zhejiang Province looks more respectable?   Three days after the shooting and during examination week the two legislators from the “Democratic Progressive Party”, the party that wants total war with China, decide to make a crank call just to test police response time.  Both legislators justified their actions because it was supported by students who wanted to avoid the exams, without realising that they could encourage copycat pranks in the long-run.

The world turns and things will be back to business for the most part

Sony rejects the 20GB PS3 and uses it for bayonet practice

Sony, in response to the slow sales of the 20GB “core” version of the slow-selling Playstation 3, has discontinued that version to focus more on their 60GB flagship PS3. It appears that Sony created two versions of the PS3 in response to Microsoft’s decision to offer a “core” Xbox360, that can be upgraded with external accessories and a standard version at different price points. In response to the strong sales made from Microsoft’s business decision, Sony decided to also join the bandwagon with their two versions of the Playstation 3. However, while Microsoft made it easy to upgrade their 360 with external hard drive and wireless joypads, Sony decided to differentiate their PS3s by only providing Wi-Fi to their 60GB PS3, and did not offer any wireless upgrades for their core system.

Most consumers, realising that Wi-Fi will become a household standard within the next 5-10 years opted to pay the extra $100USD premium to get a PS3 with Wi-Fi rather than settling with a lesser model that does not appear to have strong support from Sony. Even in the initial launch of the PS3, we can see that the leading sales in the eBay gray market were often generated by sellers flipping the 60GB PS3 rather than the 20GB core model. On an interesting note, one of my friends who tried selling a 20GB PS3 actually lost money on the venture and had to sell it at cost to minimise his losses.

Soon, there were reports coming in from retailers such as Target and Best Buy, were only restocking their videogame or electronics departments with only the 60GB PS3 instead of the 20GB version. Then, the PS3 launches for the PAL markets were only limited to the 60GB version with PR-lingo claiming that their PAL markets did no show strong interest for the core model. Ultimately, the signs of the demise of the 20GB version came when even Sony’s own online store decided to discontinue the model itself.

Dave Karraker of Sony America states, “At launch, we offered two separate models of PlayStation 3 to meet the diverse needs and interests of our PlayStation fan base. Initial retail demand in North America was upwards of ninety percent in favor of the 60GB SKU, so we manufactured and shipped-in accordingly. Due to the overwhelming demand for the 60GB model from both retailers and consumers, we have ceased offering the 20GB model here in North America. In addition to the larger internal hard drive, the 60GB PlayStation 3 features added storage media slots and built-in Wi-Fi not found in the 20GB system. Based on retailer and consumer feedback, we have decided to focus our current efforts on the more popular 60GB model.”

http://www.joystiq.com/2007/04/11/r-i-p-playstation-3-20gb-is-officially-no-more/

Additionally, there were claims that the 20GB was actually more expensive to mass produce compared to the 60GB counterpart. This decision is quite interesting seeing that Microsoft decided to offer a new variant of their 360 console in response to the Playstation 3 called the 360 Elite, which is $80USD more than the standard 360 but comes in black with HDMI and a 120GB hard drive. So like the Norwegian Blue Parrot, the 20GB Playstation 3 has ceased to be, leaving Sony with no core models to compete at varying price points, which puts it at a relative disadvantage compared to Microsoft and the competitively-priced Nintendo Wii.

Speaking of the Nintendo Wii, weekly sales data from Japan indicates that this piece of hardware is outselling the Playstation 3 at a 3-to-1 ratio. It’s interesting to note that the 60GB Playstation 3 is often being sold by Japanese retailers at the same price point as the Nintendo Wii itself. One of my friends currently working in Japan was able to successfully buy a Playstation 3 for the same price as the Wii even though he had an opportunity to purchase the Wii when it was available (Japan also has shortages of the Wii and DS Lite like the rest of the world). I still can’t believe that the Playstation 3, a console powered by a Cell processor capable of analysing simulations to cure cancer and render CGI in real-time, is being crushed in the market by a modified Nintendo Gamecube with a motion-sensing remote controller. These are indeed fictitious times we are living in.

It has been said that a foreign company must be able to secure their home market before they can achieve strong success in foreign markets. This has been true for corporations such as Toyota, and Coca-Cola, who were able to successfully gain significant market share in the home market before reaching out to international consumers. For consoles, SEGA was loosing market share in Japan but performed successfully in foreign markets in Europe and North American before their domestic losses caught up to them in the early part of the millennium. A rough idea of the success of the Wii can be seen in the numerous Japanese variety shows where the Wii is often featured and used by local celebrities.

While videos of these kind showing cute Japanese celebrities duking it out using the Wii or playing other Wii games are prevalent on youtube, I was only able to find some notable videos on youtube talking about the Playstation 3.

This video done by Playstation Magazine debunks the Sony’s spin that motion sensing is incompatible with vibration, despite Nintendo using it for the Wii. The video blogger notes that a motion sensing control with vibration was produced in 1999 by a third party for the PSone and it even works with the PS2, as seen in the video.

This clip talks about the Japanese launch and the problems associated with rioting, the media hype and the emerging gray market for the Playstation 3 consoles.

Other than those notable clips, the rest of youtube results on “Playstation 3” were often fan-made trailers of games, clips of the PS3 presentations, videos bashing the Playstation 3, random videos exploring the hardware or talking about problems with the machine.

It seems like Sony is currently in a very sad state in terms of the console wars. Most of the promised features they trumpeted were nonexistant during launch and in the critical stages. Initial demand for the Playstation 3 gradually died down as consumers learned of the delays, hardware problems, gray market oversaturation and appealing alternatives such as the Wii. Then you have management at Sony making idiotic remarks such as praising the Wii or making statements that seem to piss all over the Playstation fanbase.

Rumors of manufacturing difficulties kept Playstation 3s out of stores for the first few months. Then, once the supply was met, the demand for the system dwindled. Despite early showings of great success for it’s European launch, the Playstation 3’s sales figures plummeted in the weeks following. Due to their continual mistakes, Sony has lost game exclusives, advertising rights (as backlash to their mind-numbing “This is Living” set of commercials”, and profits.

The worst evidence of Sony’s disregard for their customers is their lack of support. Since the launch of the PS3’s online service, users have urged Sony to upgrade the experience. Sony’s service only recently was updated to allow “background downloading”, yet problems remain. Fans have taken it upon themselves to sign petitions, yearning for features that they were promised by Sony.

http://www.1pstart.com/state-of-the-ps3-what-is-sony-doing-wrong/

At this point, I would like to see my $600USD investment count for something, but Sony has blown it as a videogame console. Currently, due to the lack of good games, I use the PS3 as a blu-ray player and currently rooting for Sony to win this format war, where it has a relatively better chance. So far, the markets and sales data suggest that Sony is gradually gaining a lead over HD-DVD in the next generation DVD format wars, but it needs to aggressively increase their product offerings and reduce the costs for blu-ray players and discs if they are to achieve a decisive victory over HD-DVD. It’s not exactly too late for Sony in the console wars, but they have blown their lead from mismanagement and from underestimating their competition.

The Playstation 3 is a liability to Blu-Ray

According to Sony, their blu-ray DVD players are winning the format war against Toshiba’s HD-DVD format. They assert these claims with sales data that shows blu-ray films outselling their HD-DVD counterparts on a 3 to 1 ratio and with the growing installed Playstation 3 user base.

Some of this data can be unscientifically backed up with amazon.com sales data from http://www.eproductwars.com/dvd/ which shows that HD-DVD initially had the lead on blu-ray prior to the launch of the Playstation 3. However, the blu-ray sales started to pick up after PS3 sales began to stabilise and it increased even more with the release of “Casino Royale” on blu-ray. So far, Universal studios has an exclusive commitment to HD-DVD with Paramount and Warner Bros showing more bias towards the HD-DVD camp despite being nonexclusive studios.

Although many porn studios have selected HD-DVD as their format of choice, this does not mean Toshiba has won the format war. In the past, pornographic studios may have decided the original videotape wars, but the bulk of pornography is now downloaded through high-speed internet services according to analysts. They also added the one reason why Sony was reluctant to allow pornographers, who initially wanted to make porn for blu-ray, to press their films was Sony’s fear of offending Disney (an exclusive studio) which was a corporation reluctant to be associated with anything that would tarnish their image. Despite this setback, a few pornographic studios in Japan and America have managed to get a few films pressed for blu-ray under the condition of Nondisclosure Agreements.

Others would point out that Microsoft supports HD-DVD, which means it is the end of blu-ray. Again, this is not exactly true, as the HD-DVD add-on for the Xbox360 does not appear to be a strong seller with many developers reluctant to port their games to a higher capacity HD-DVD as many developers did for PS2 DVD-ROMs. It is also interesting that Microsoft’s own Public Relations and developers have gone on record saying they would add a blu-ray external drive if they win the format war, and made gaffes that ironically referred to HD-DVD as the “new betamax”.

Despite these apparent setbacks for the HD-DVD camp, Sony could lose this format war because of their Playstation 3. We all know for a fact that the Playstation 3, a system for “hardcore” gamers, is being crushed by the Nintendo Wii and unable to differentiate itself from the 360. It’s sad to say that the Playstation 3 is now the current loser in this generation’s console war and it is being beaten by a slightly modified GameCube console with a motion-sensing and rumble remote despite having such powerful features such as Cell processor that can cure cancer, wi-fi, and HD resolution.

It’s one thing to lose to a relatively inferior piece of hardware but it is a huge problem when Sony could not help their developers harness the full potential of the PS3 to even surpass the Microsoft Xbox360 in terms of graphics and gameplay:

Although the video quality is low, its really very hard to see any major difference between the PS3 and 360 versions. Although some PS3 fanboys would make the claim that their version had more colours, the differences are really not noticeable. This makes consumers wonder why in the world they should pay an extra $100USD for a PS3 version that plays exactly like their 360 counterpart. It is also a large problem for Sony since many of the traditionally loyal developers are willing to cancel their exclusive agreements in favour of generating more revenues by going multi-platform. Phil Harrison of SCEI has acknowledged that the developers move to go multi-platform made sense because they cannot really make much revenue by simply making games for one system, which implies that Sony has not only failed in meeting their developers’ needs but they have a system that will not sell well either.

Then one has to look at it from a developer’s point of view. Why would a developer even try to develop games for PS3 using PS3 development kits that is extremely difficult to program and without any support from Sony unlike Microsoft? The difficulty in programming the PS3 often forces developers to simply port over an existing program/game from the Xbox360 as a way of creating shortcuts to get around the programming issues around the PS3. This also explains why PS3 exclusive games have done very little to differentiate themselves compared to their counterparts on the 360. The fact that there are extra costs pressing games on blu-ray compared to DVD also hurts the developers’ bottom line and these costs are carried over to consumers in the form of PS3’s $60USD games versus the 360’s $50 games.

Another place to see problems in Sony’s troubled Playstation 3 is in their approach to advertising the product. In Japan, Sony has started positioning their PS3 as an entertainment hub in addition to being a gaming system:

This commercial emphasises the non-gaming features of the PS3, which were originally included as value-added benefits for owning a PS3 gaming system. It also doesn’t help that these ads seem to be targeted towards older consumers and non-gamers, which could alienate the Playstation’s core fanbase by associating it as a digital hub instead of its primary design as a console. Moreover, the most interesting part about these ads is Sony’s attempt to attract non-gamers to buy the PS3 similar to how Nintendo is using their unique gameplay on the Wii to attract non-gamers, except Sony has little to show by promoting their extra features as their primary benefits for having a PS3. It’s also interesting how Sony didn’t make any ads that talked about the benefits of using the Playstation 3 to view blu-ray films and it’s ability to surf the Internet.

In Europe and other PAL markets, Sony decided to implement a “This is Living” ad campaign to generate buzz for the PS3. Based on last weekend’s data, it appears that their ad campaign for the PAL markets was a miserable failure since the ads did nothing to talk about the benefits of having a PS3 versus a Nintendo Wii or Xbox360, which have been in the market for nearly a year; and all the “This is Living” ads were loaded with foreign symbolism that confused the casual consumer.

These ads did more to confuse and alienate potential buyers and did very little to generate excitement and sales for Sony. You really have to wonder what the Playstation 3 has to do with a girl taking a shit in the toilet or a Japanese man boiling eggs with his brain. At least the North American ads showed the power of the Playstation 3 by having it quickly solve a Rubik’s cube before destroying it to show its raw processing power.

With all this negative attention associated with the PS3, one has to wonder what this will eventually do for the blu-ray format. First, Sony was able to gain a slight foothold in their format war by making blu-ray available on the PS3 at the expense of angering developers with added development costs, and turning off consumers by raising the retail price. Additionally, all the retarded business decisions Sony’s management have made in regards to the PS3 such as officially praising the Wii as a “Wonderful product” to treating all consumers as if they were automatically going to buy the PS3 regardless of price or associated issues only increased the negative perception surrounding it. Blu-ray is currently winning the next generation DVD format war against HD-DVD, but we all have to wonder how much longer will this success last before its association with the PS3 works against Sony and its blu-ray format…