For the longest time, Sony was at the top of the gaming world; the PS1 and PS2 were phenomenal successes, with the latter gaining 70 percent marketshare and the title of “best selling console of all time.” So how did Microsoft – the underdog last generation – end up out-selling Sony these past few years? Ex-Microsft executive Robbie Bach explains how they took advantage of what he believes are Sony’s mistakes.
Bach is the former president of Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division, which means he played a big role in the development of Microsoft’s Xbox consoles, and the less-successful Zune. The Xbox 360 has undoubtedly become a bigger success than its predecessor, though according to Bach, that was just as much in part due to Sony as it was to Microsoft.
Bach believes Sony mismanaged a lot going from the PS2 to introducing the PS3, including cost structure and how they created a platform that was difficult to develop for. This could be seen especially in early PS3 games, wherein multiplatform titles suffered from poor PS3 port jobs.
“Some of the success of Xbox was due to the fact that Sony did some really not so smart things. They mismanaged their 70 percent market share. It’s a long conversation. The transition to PlayStation 3 was really, really bad. And really hard. They mismanaged their partners, they mismanaged their cost structure. They made their next platform so complicated that developers couldn’t develop for it.”
It’s well known that Sony had a relatively slow start this generation, and the $600 introductory price point certainly didn’t help make things better for a console launching a full year after the Xbox 360, even with the built-in Blu-ray functionality. While the console picked up steam since 2006, Sony as a whole still hasn’t seen much luck, with their share prices hitting an all-time low. Despite this, the PS3 has been catching up to the Xbox 360 in worldwide sales numbers and currently is less than four million units behind.
While this is good news for Sony, their initial “mismanagement” of the PlayStation brand, as Bach describes, may have caused them trouble in the long run, now that Microsoft has a stronger footing in the industry at a time when Sony is losing money in the billions and struggling to sell their new handheld device, the Vita, which has only sold 1.8 million units worlwide, a far cry from the Nintendo 3DS.
Still, competition can only mean good things for gamers (price drops!). So while it’s unfortunate for Sony that they lost their dominance from the previous home console generation, gamers everywhere should be glad to see relatively equal footing from Microsoft and Sony as we approach the next generation where everything could change again.
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