Entertainment Industry

« Previous | Company Town Home | Next »

Sony repositioning PlayStation 3 as all-in-one entertainment device

Shot03 copy Nearly three years after the device launched and quickly fell behind its two major competitors, Sony is attempting to reposition its Playstation 3 video game console as an all-in-one entertainment device.

The Japanese electronics giant is launching a new advertising campaign for the crucial fall and holiday season that places less emphasis on its video game capabilities and more on its ability to play high-definition Blu-ray DVDs and to download movies from the Internet.

One of the ads, showed to The Times by Sony in advance of airing, touts the PS3 as "the greatest gaming, Blu-ray playing, movie downloading system around." Another features a teenager complaining that his grandmother is using the console to watch Blu-ray movies, preventing him from playing video games.

After years of charging more than its competitors, Sony last week cut the price of the PS3 to $299, putting it in line with Microsoft's Xbox 360, which has various models that cost $199 to $299, and the Nintendo Wii, which costs $249.

The device's high price and complex set of features have been cited by many in the industry as key reasons for its slow sales. According to NPD group, consumers in the U.S. have bought just over 8 million PS3s through the end of July, compared with more than 15 million Xbox 360s and over 20 million units of the Nintendo Wii.

That has been a source of particular frustration to Hollywood studios, which have been counting on the PS3 to boost sales of Blu-ray discs, which haven't grown fast enough to make up for an ongoing decline in DVD sales.

"We have been a game company for years and we would never walk away from that, but research confirmed there is a larger proposition under our nose," said Peter Dille, senior vice president of marketing for Sony Computer Entertainment America. "We wanted to reposition as a total entertainment solution. We felt like we can really own entertainment."

The Xbox 360 has a movie download store that's similar to the one on the PlayStation 3 and enables Netflix subscribers to stream movies from the Internet, a feature Sony doesn't have. The PS3 is the only one of the three major consoles, however, to play Blu-ray discs.

Dille said that although Sony will keep marketing the PS3 to avid gamers, with an emphasis on high-profile new titles such as October's Uncharted 2, the new ad campaign will target more "moms and families" than before. Although the Wii has been extremely popular with families, there may still be more potential buyers in that market than among the young men who play video games most.

"It's pretty clear looking at the numbers that the 360 has done a better job at capturing the core gamer audience," said Jesse Divnich, an analyst with Electronic Entertainment Design & Research.

Sony has spent much of the last few years trying to attract gamers, with mixed success, as highly touted titles such as LittleBigPlanet and Killzone 2 have failed to rack up big sales. Although the PS3 arguably offers more features than its competitors, the company hasn't been able to excite consumers about free wireless networking and multimedia downloads.

Dille said that the campaign, Sony's biggest and costliest since the launch of the PS3, is designed around the idea that Americans are now more interested in those capabilities.

Divnich agreed that Sony's chances of success with that message are much better now than before. He noted that although overall video game hardware sales are falling in the recession, some of the hottest-selling gadgets feature multiple digital capabilities.

"A year or two ago, the idea of an all-in-one media hub was kind of a foreign idea among the mass market," Divnich noted. "Today thanks to new technologies like the iPhone, we've warmed up to the idea of products that meet all our multimedia needs."

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: A moment from one of Sony's new PlayStation 3 advertisements. Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment America.

Comments () | Archives (13)

Why bother, we paid close to $600 for my boy's playstation in 07' and now the disc reader is messed up and they cannot even play their game. When I called Sony they wanted $150 to fix it because the warranty was up. Which frustrates me because there are 100s of people on the internet who are experiencing the same problem!

Now if they would include a decent browser rather than that piece of crap that the PS3 presently uses....

Why Bother? What Kind of question is that? I paid $600 when it came out in 2006 and it is still working perfectly fine. This is the first time I hear somebody complain about the PS3's performance. Now that the PS3 is $300 and it has 120 gigabytes, I am considering purchasing another system for my bedroom because it has significantly dropped in price, it has more memory than before, and best of all it is now slimmer! The PS3 Slim is the best deal. I can now watch all my Blu-Ray movies in my living room and bedroom because I will purchase the PS3 Slim when it is released next tuesday.

I also got the PS3 when it came out. I am disabled and retired from Law Enforcement. Unfortunately I am bed ridden most of the time but I am fortunate enought to have a great 7.1 Pioneer Receiver that I run my Sharp Aquos 32 inch 1080P tv through via HDMI. My X-Box Elite doesn't run the 7.1 audio, just 5.1. The PS3 gives great 7.1 sound on games but can't do 7.1 True HD. That isn't a problem though. We enjoy the Blu-Ray movies more than the X-Box HD DVD's. I had to save up a long time to get the $600.00 to buy the PS3 but I really enjoy it. Knock on wood, I haven't had any problems with it. However, my second X-Box 360 that isn't the Elite model, I have had to have it repaired four times because of the red rings of death. The last time they sent me a refurbished unit that I didn't think was fair since I bought the original one new.
I see now that the new PS3 slim will play the 7.1 True HD Audio but I can't afford to buy it even at the lower price. I will keep my $600.00 unit and continue to enjoy it's capabilities. Thank you, Robert

100's of people experiencing problems with their PS3 console is much better than the millions that have had problems with their XBOX360.

The new ads are fantastic! I will buy the game because of them. Barb

Well the PS3 Slim is a pointless Pile of Sh!@ in my opinion, It offers NO EXTRA Features to upgrade, not even a Built in Microphone, My PS3 I purchased in 2009 for $688.00AU Has a 500GB Sata Hard Drive in it, so like WTF? Pointless Upgrade, and the PSP GO Is a waiste of money and time, as The DSi already crapped all over that, (I own 2x White DSi) and the PSP Go doesn't offer anything new except LACK OF SOFTWARE ON DISCS. So SONY is waisting there time and money, how about they concentrate on the PS3 and PSP they have out and give us better games, better Home features and get rid of this HOME BETA nearly done for a year, and update this CRAP WEB BROWSER on the PS3. SONY AND NINTENDO ARE BOTH GOING DOWN HILL, OFFERING SHOVELWARE GAMES AND CHEAP CRAP UGLY SYSTEMS LIKE THIS NEW PS3 SLIM LOOKS FORIEGN AND CHEAP AND A RIP OFF OF THE ORIGINAL PS3. GET WITH IT DO YOU LISTEN TO YOUR CONSUMERS!

Where have you been for 3 years? Sony has positioned the ps3 as an all in one entertainment device from the very beginning.

The ps3 is the single reason why blueray won over hd-dvd. Sony pushed the ps3's blueray player hard, and even included a couple of Sony blueray movies in it's early console bundles. Have you even noticed that Blockbuster Video has ps3's set up playing blueray, and they have advertising on their blueray section siting the ps3. They have been this way for quite a while now.

Sony even tried to make the argument that the ps3 was a personal computer, and filed the ps3 as such. They made it known you could install a version of Linux on a ps3. And of course it can browse the internet, although it's browser is not exactly the best, the function has always been there. Ironically, the ability to install Linux to ps3 has been removed with the new ps3 slim version. So, in fact, this new ps3 has less "all in one" capability than the old one.

They also touted that the ps3 could save lives...yes, save lives, with Folding Home, a program in which the ps3 joined online with other computers around the world to form one super computer. When not in use, the computers run algorithms and get research data. Who wouldn't want to help take part in helping cancer research around the world simply by buying a ps3?

Sony also has advertised the ability to connect a psp and ps3 through wifi, letting you play content from the ps3 hard drive and even watch a dvd in the disc tray, from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

All of these abilities have been advertised and known since the ps3 first came out. Saying they are "repositioning" is just about the silliest thing I've ever heard. It's quite clear this very strategy never worked in the first place, so why would it work now? The ads you mention will fall flat with gamers. Gamers want to play games first and foremost. The other stuff is nice, but the games matter most. This is exactly where Microsoft has done very well, by keeping their machine a gaming machine first, and then adding more functions later on. If MS didn't have all of the hardware problems (rrod,) they would have run away with this generation.

What Sony should do is focus most of their ads on their games instead, something they really haven't done. Show people what they have coming, and try to position the ps3 as a gamer's console. And use separate ads to try to get casual gamers, the people who Nintendo pulled in so well. Keep in mind the Wii has few functions besides games, it can't even play dvds, yet has out sold ps3 and 360 combined.

I've been wondering why Sony has taken so long to highlight all of the other features it offers besides playing games. I bought my PS3 just over a year ago and I think I use it for other multimedia tasks as much as I do for playing games.

I use it to play multimedia slide shows with my digital camera pictures. I watch movies downloaded from the PS Store; watch TV shows and movies on www.sling.com once it www.hulu.com stopped working; watch You Tube videos; download and listen to music from www.amazon.com through my stereo system that the PS3 is connected to; and surf the Internet. While it doesn't have the greatest Web browser, it works for basic Web surfing. And one thing I like the most is listening to www.Pandora.com Internet radio on the PS3.

Big D

I don't understand why people are complaining about a product that is cheaper, more energy efficient and smaller than it's previous model.

At $299 you get plenty of features you won't find in the xbox or the Wii. You then look at what's to come and SONY is the only company with good software titles on the way (Uncharted 2, Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time, Gran Turismo 5, MAG, God of War III, Heavy Rain, Final Fantasy Versus XIII, Last Guardian).

Aside the Halo/Gears series, Microsoft doesn't have any good exclusives, it's multiplats that will keep it going: Modern Warfare 2, Music Games (Guitar Heros, Rock Band).

The only argument people had against the system was price and now it has been addressed. There's no reason people shouldn't pick one up if they are considering a gaming/entertainment system that will be good for another 5+ years.

To say the 360 is only Halo and Gears is incorrect. Some exclusive games coming soon include:
Mass Effect 2, Crackdown 2, Alan Wake, Forza Motorsport 3 and Splinter Cell Conviction.

And then there are those multiplatform games. Many of these games have received better review scores when compared head to head to their ps3 counterparts. Yes, some if it is clearly 3rd parties not knowing the ps3, but the fact remains that many multiplatform titles run better on 360. It's also true some of these are older titles now, but people buy consoles also for the full library, not just the games coming out now. Just look at the ps2 for example, which still outsells it sibling ps3 each month. Obviously, people buying ps2s are not buying them for what's coming out next year. They are buying them for the extensive and now pretty cheap library of great games.

Having all the hardware power and features in the world only matter when they start to make better games. Just look at the last generation, when the 1st xbox had all the best features, a hard drive, and better cpu, but the ps2 won hands down. Now, things are different, and it's the 360's turn to return the favor to the ps3. Only now, after 3 years are we starting to see the ps3 get more solid games. But these are all 1st party. That's a start, but the 3rd parties also have to pick up the pace in order to help Sony. The 360 has a full 8 million+ unit lead on ps3. That will not change, certainly not anytime soon, even with a price drop, and even with a surge in sales.

MS has already dropped the price of the 360 to match, and are selling the Pro version for $249 until it's gone. This holiday will be very interesting. For the 1st time, all 3 consoles are all within $50 of each other, with the exception of the 360 Arcade at $199, but the real fight is between the Elite at $299, the ps3 Slim at $299, and the Wii at $249.

For next year, both Sony and MS have motion sensing cameras coming that could have major impacts on things. Both look pretty interesting, but I think MS has a slightly better gameplan with Natal (including showing it off on Jimmy Fallon's Late Night show.)

I know this probably sounds like a pretty negative comment, but that is the situation as it stands.
Still, I am interested in buying a ps3 slim myself. I would like blueray, though I don't often buy movies. And I would like to connect my psp to it and play whatever I have on it on the go. This allows the psp to access sites like youtube through the ps3 browser (the psp has a pathetic browser.)

I am looking for a blu-ray playing media computer that will provide wi-fi connectivity to my home network. I couldn't care less about games. I already have a Wii.

The new PS3 Slim is out and its fantastic. I purchase mine for $300 and its worth every penny. I originally purchase an xbox 360 elite but after news of the PS3 Slim I traded it back in and have never looked back. The PS3 Slim offers me everything I want from a games console, great graphics, fast loading times and its super quiet!


Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...

Photos: L.A.’s busiest filming sites