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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Q1 2007 Gaming Report Card:Sony

The PS3 has finally launched in the Middle East, Europe, Australia, and in some other Asian countries after a long wait. Prior to that, the PS3 has only been officially launched in the US and Japan, partly contributing to the fact that the PS3 still stays rooted to the last position in the console market. However, with a slew of juicy games already released during this period, including MotorStorm, Virtua Fighter 5, Formula One Championship Edition, and massive RPG Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion, and with more exciting ones to come like Lair and Warhawk, the prospects of the PS3 becoming more successful in the future than it is now are gradually growing. However, it must be cautioned that a string of PS3 exclusives has already slipped to the Xbox 360. Recently, Sony Computer Entertainment France president, Georges Fornay, even mentioned that the exclusivity of Final Fantasy 13 is in discussion, providing more doubts as to whether the game will still survive being a PS3-exclusive title before its release.

For the past few months, Sony has been criticized for the PS3’s high price and lack of game titles. However, at the recently concluded Games Developers Conference 07, Sony showed everyone that it still has a trick or two up its sleeve. The result is Home, an online component of the PS3 that is going to give serious competition to Microsoft’s Xbox Live. In a nutshell, Home (image above) is a virtual environment where customized avatars (something like the Wii’s Mii) from PS3 owners all over the world can be spotted roaming. There are various rooms in Home like the Games Space and the Home Theatre (image below). Mini-games can be enjoyed in Games Space and if playing games is not your cup of tea, then the Home Theatre is the place where you can watch videos. You can choose to watch a blu-ray movie or load one from your hard disk, or if you have none, content that you can stream and watch with others in the room is always available from the PlayStation Store. These are just some of the features of Home, which will be ready for download this fall from the PlayStation Store – free of charge.

Perhaps another interesting thing to note is that while the current SIXAXIS controller does not have any vibration feature or so whatever, rumors on the Internet suggest that the aforementioned feature may be included in the SIXAXIS controller sometime in the future.

For the PS3 that has barely reached a year-old, its potentials are massive, but let us not forget its predecessor, the PS2. Unlike the Xbox and GameCube, both of which have already been sent to their demise, the PS2 is still breathing with games, with the one of the recent releases being God of War 2, the follow-up to one the best PS2 games. The PS2 is still commanding an impressive line-up of games this year despite being tagged with the term ‘last-gen’. These forthcoming games include the newly-announced NASCAR 08, Heatseeker (image by the side), Medal of Honor Vanguard, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Anniversary, just to name a few. The games should keep the PS2 is sight for the next year or so.

On the handheld front, though, things are not looking so rosy for the PSP, which has long been overshadowed by the more technically inferior DS Lite. For the month of February, the DS Lite was the best-selling hardware with 485 000 units sold, compared to 176 000 of units sold for the PSP. Although there are rumors on the Internet that spell the word ‘redesign’ for the PSP, it has been officially confirmed that there are currently no plans for a redesign of the PSP. However, having new colors for the handheld is a possibility.


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