PS2 in 2001
By: Jared Black
were to ask 100 gamers at random to name their favorite day
last year, no doubt many of them would name the PS2 Launch
Date (October 26th) as that day. Unfortunately for
Sony, if you were to ask one hundred gamers to name their
least favorite day of last year many would give you the same
answer. Without a doubt, in terms of units sold the PS2 launch
was the best console launch in history. Unfortunately for
Sony, the PS2 was also the most demanded console at launch in
history. Many gamers, initially allowed to preorder by greedy
retailers who didnít take Sonyís shortage warnings
seriously, were left without a PS2 at launch and as a result
felt betrayed. Unfortunately, the PS2 shortage problem has
persisted to this day, with many people who preordered still
waiting to get their PS2.
were where Sonyís problems ended, things would be ok.
Unfortunately, many people who did get a PS2 have complained
about a lack of quality titles at launch. There are a number
of "good" games available (with one or two excellent
ones), but even most of these are sequels of PS one titles or
upgrades of other existing games and concepts. To this day no
PS2 game has really established itself as a true step above
that previously found on the PS one or N64. PS2 enthusiasts
point to games like MGS 2, Final Fantasy X and Gran Turismo 3
as their saving grace, but unfortunately both GT3 and FFX have
recently met with delays MGS 2 isnít due to arrive until at
least this holiday season.
brings us to the present. With these problems, Sonyís pre
and post-launch hype is definitely showing signs of slowing
down. Worse for Sony, their two top competitors (Microsoft and
Nintendo) both have systems scheduled for release later this
year. Microsoft has already stolen a couple of exclusives, and
Nintendo seems to be fixing all the mistakes they committed
with the N64.
So is it
all gloom and doom for Sony? Not really. No matter what anyone
tells you, the PS2 will not "die" this year. The
Playstation brand alone is a strong one, and there are enough
dedicated Sony gamers out there that the system simply will
not fail. However, it looks less likely that the PS2 will be
able to achieve the kind of dominance the PS one had. With
this in mind, how can Sony continue to stay on top of the
market, and build on the launch momentum theyíve achieved?
and most obvious answer is that they need more quality games.
As word of mouth spreads (via the Internet, the proverbial
"playground", etc.) about the PS2ís somewhat
average lineup, the feeling of "needing" a PS2 will
be diminished in a lot of potential buyers minds. If the
neediness isnít there, then they will be more inclined to
wait on either Nintendoís or Microsoftís next system.
some must-have games are on the horizon for the PS2. Capcomís
Onimusha is scheduled for release next month, and popular
franchises like Wipeout Fusion, Gran Turismo 3 and Metal Gear
Solid 2 are all due out this year. The more high quality,
exclusive games Sony locks up for the PS2, the better its
the Internet Connectivity Problem
One of the
key components in any console these days is online gaming.
Microsoft will have an ethernet card (in addition to a hard
drive) built into the Xbox, which can be used for either DSL
or Cable modems. The Dreamcast already provides both broadband
and narrowband (dial-up) gaming, while the GameCube will at
some point also offer online gaming (both dial-up and
broadband solutions). So itís obvious that Sony needs to get
its online strategy finalized, and it would help immensely to
be able to tout that feature opposite the Xbox's this year.
They need to finalize their plans, and get the Hard
Drive/Ethernet adapter out to the general public.
problem Sony runs into though is that, historically, add-ons
such as that have never sold well. And if only 10% of PS2
users buy it, thereís not a lot of incentive for developers
to develop online compatibility (especially since network
coding can often be difficult). So in addition to just getting
it out, Sony needs to release it cheaply. Packing a game in
with the adapter would also help immensely, especially if it
was a popular MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online
Role-Playing Game) such as Everquest. The more people who buy
it, the more itíll be supported.
up BIG at E3
and Nintendo both plan on showing up in style at E3, and thereís
no reason why Sony canít do the same. In addition to the big
titles that are already likely to show up at E3, Sony needs to
give us some big surprises to diminish the hype generated
around GameCube, Xbox, and Game Boy Advance unveilings. While
Microsoft and Nintendo are showing off hardware and games
still in development, Sony needs to emphasize that their games
are here and playable now. A price drop would also be a huge
way to steal the show at E3.
Sonyís not having any problems selling all the PS2s theyíre
producing now, that doesnít mean that they should simply
drop advertising altogether. So far, the only advertising has
been the very weak "PS9" commercial and some
independent third-party advertising. Once they
"re-launch" the system (rumored to include a
packed-in DVD remote in March, much like the recent Japanese
re-launch), unleash a massive advertising campaign showing the
PS2ís clear superiority. Effective advertising will help to
keep the PS2 as a necessary item in a lot of gamersí minds,
and that will help move additional units once supply catches
up with demand.
One of the
biggest knocks against the PS2 has been that itís very
challenging to program for. The Xbox will be very easy to
program for anyone with PC experience (and thatís the
primary reason why Oddworld left the PS2 and went to Xbox),
the GameCube is reportedly much easier to develop for than the
N64 was, and the Dreamcast is also rather easy to program for.
The easier Sony makes it on developers (through technical
support, middleware, etc.), the less of a chance of them
losing another exclusive title and the greater the chances of
seeing ports of games on other platforms.
the Systems Out!
very simple. There are literally millions of gamers out there
just waiting for their chance to buy a PS2. Scratch, claw, do
whatever it takes to get them oneÖbefore their interests