Sony: Nintendo Makes 'Babysitting Tools'; Xbox 360 Running on Steam

Jack Tretton Sony

Even though Sony PlayStation CEO, Jack Tretton, appears in humorous (and self-referential) commercials with faux-spokesperson Kevin Butler, doesn't mean that he can't offer up headline-worthy zingers about the competition.

This time the Sony executive is dismissing Nintendo's stranglehold on the handheld market and Microsoft's continued success with console gamers by saying the companies produce "babysitting tools" or technology that is "starting to run on steam," respectively.

Hot on the heels of a quotable conversation with FastCompany, where Tretton asserted that consumers know that new technology is expensive, the PlayStation chief is once again defending the company's ten year console life-cycle - as well as poking fun at the competition.

Speaking with Fortune Magazine Tretton addressed the PS3's slow start out of the gate, continuing to project that the console will win the race - in the long run:

"If you're really going to sustain technology for a decade, you have to be cutting edge when you launch a platform. Here we are 4 years into the PlayStation 3, and it's just hitting its stride. We'll enjoy a long downhill roll behind it because the technology that was so cutting edge in 2006 is extremely relevant today and is conspicuously absent in our competition."

Similarly, the PlayStation CEO asserts that the competition hasn't done the same long-term planning and, as a result, their tech won't be powerful (or accurate) enough to carry gamers into more immersive experiences going forward:

"They're starting to run out of steam now in terms of continuing to be relevant in 2011 and beyond. I mean, you've gotta be kidding me. Why would I buy a gaming system without a hard drive in it? How does this thing scale? Motion gaming is cute, but if I can only wave my arms six inches, how does this really feel like I'm doing true accurate motion gaming?"

Playstation 3 Slim

With many gamers turning to iPhone and Android devices for their handheld gaming, Tretton indicates that the success of the "Game Boy Experience" may be coming to an end (which certainly explains why Sony is focusing on packing the NGP with new technology and cutting edge graphics):

"Our view of the 'Game Boy experience' is that it's a great babysitting tool, something young kids do on airplanes, but no self-respecting twenty-something is going to be sitting on an airplane with one of those. He's too old for that."

"With the NGP, we asked, what is it that is lacking? We looked at every technology out there, every [bell and] whistle, and how can we make those flexible as possible for consumers to experience."

For the most part, you can't argue with Tretton's points (even if you are an Xbox gamer). The PlayStation 2, which launched in 2000, continues to sell a myriad of systems each year because the tech is still competent for less-serious gamers. The original Xbox, which launched in 2001, was discontinued in 2006 - with the final third-party game for the system releasing in 2008.

Original Xbox Microsoft

Microsoft may have snagged a lot of gamers by getting the Xbox 360 out the door a year earlier than the PS3 (and at a lower price-point) but it's easy to forget that the companies are also operating out of a very different marketing approach - with different overarching goals. Sony would love to be the top dog in this market, but they're managing a much larger hardware company where it's not just about selling PlayStations - it's also about PlayStations selling Sony-brand 3-D TVs and surround sound systems.

"Conceptually, it's hard for people to put their head around. But when you put them in front of a 3-D TV and you have them play or Killzone or Uncharted or you let them watch the National Championshiop in 3-D, they get it. Just like with HD, people have to experience it, there has to be content that takes advantage of it, and I think this is going to be a pretty nice breakout year for that."

At face value, Sony's 10 year life-cycle will, most likely, pay-off for them in the long-run. There's little doubt the PS3 will show a large net profit by the time the system retires; however, that's not to say that Microsoft and Nintendo aren't succeeding with their own approaches.

Nintendo's recent reliance on gimmicky gameplay experiences for casual audiences has continued their streak of dominating the industry for the last 25 years. Similarly, Microsoft's focus on culling a robust online community with Xbox Live, no matter which console it's running on, has made the manufacturer a go-to staple for online gaming.

Sega Dreamcast

Angry hardcore gamers who feel compelled to defend their console choice aside, it's actually pretty interesting to see how each of the industry leaders have carved out their place in the modern market.

That said, as many long-time console players will remember, the industry is always in flux: Sega crashed and burned because of impressive (but overpriced) hardware - which helped rocket Sony's PlayStation 2 into market dominance.

Follow us on Twitter @benkendrick and @gamerant and let us know which console of the last 30 years is your favorite.

Source: Fortune Magazine

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