Jump back to 1995, I'm 6 years old, oblivious to the gaming world besides the NES that my mother allowed me to play every once in a while (until I broke it) and a Sega Genesis my uncle owned under the same situation. This is the year gaming changed because the Playstation made headway with it's first iteration. Bringing 3D (not the current crap 3D) into a mainstream platform and rivaling Nintendo was a big step for them. But they were unafraid, and their confidence paid off, the Playstation was a hit. And like all great hits, you just gotta try again, and with the launch of the Playstation 2, Nintendo was finally given some good competition and begun to be nudged out of the gaming market, where Sega had already thrown in the towel with their failed consoles and Microsoft started to see the market thrive more, releasing the Xbox. However, Sony was unafraid of the Operating System giant, nor where they afraid of their main competitor, Nintendo.
It wasn't until about 2004ish, that I got my first Sony game system, the PS2. I had been a huge Nintendo fanboy up until that point, and it wasn't until my friend Alex let me play on his brother's PS2 and I saw the wonder of a different variety of games like the GTA series, Spyro, Ratchet and Clank, and so on that really captured the system's capabilities and not to mention just the different feel the PS2 gave off than the N64/Gamecube. I was enthralled and purchased many of their hit game series including Prince of Persia, Jak, and others and enjoyed them thoroughly and with great happiness that I had found an alternative to Nintendo. At that point, I was never more of a fan of one than the other, while my roots belonged to Nintendo, I couldn't give up the PS2 if i had a choice. It was a bit of a golden age of gaming for me because each system was successful in it's own regards. I had never owned the original Xbox, but could respect what Microsoft was doing and have recently played some of the older titles (Halo 1&2, Psychonauts, among others) that made the console popular and a hit on its own, but I digress. The point I'm trying to make is that the Playstation was never viewed as a bad system to me, nor did I ever doubt that Sony would stay strong in the gaming industry as long as they kept up the pace and improved upon the model for them that worked so well.
Then 2005 hit. The double-dildo controller, I believe was the nickname of the unbelieveable looking object that Sony wanted to push as their controller for the PS3. A bit of a bold maneuver as both the PS1&2 had essentially the same controller. While change would have been a neat thing for them, that was a bit....much. With the huge negative reaction to the controller, they obviously changed it to the DS3/SIXAXIS which is just the original controller with the PSButton. Small bump in the road, not a big deal right?
I beleive that was also the same E3 that they announced the biggest bomb of them all, and what I believe was the beginning of the decline for Sony, the price of the PS3. $600 for the lesser model, $700+ for the higher model, all that includes is the system and a single controller. Now, with a system that has a blu-ray player installed, I would expect a tad more expense for it. But the with the Wii debuting at $250, Xbox360 at $300-$400(with a built in DVD player and debuted a year earlier), I think an extra $200-$400 with only a few launch titles (that are exclusive and also cost $60+ each) is a bit rediculous. Regardless, there was, of course, the fanboys and the people extremely loyal to Sony on opening day, buying up the systems, but then the number started to drop drastically when the Wii's popularity took hold and launched a ton of 'new' gamers and with Microsoft taking hold of the market with their already established (yet flawed) system before Sony has even come to the gates. It was a disaster. Flash-forward a couple years and Playstation sales are in the tank because of this huge reaction to their price, so a few new models have been released, each one granting a bit of a price drop. It was not until the release of the "slim" PS3 that the system started to come down to a reasonable price, $299.
Personally, I did not purchase a PS3 until late 2009, and that was only because it was a deal that came with 2 games, another controller, and I got a 10% discount from my work. It was around that time that I realized, I have become such a fan of the Xbox Live service that the PSN was useless to me, multi-console games were just made better for the Xbox360, and there weren't all that many good exclusive PS3 titles. My rule of thumb is that I will not buy a console until I can find 5 EXCLUSIVE games to that console that I will enjoy. It wasn't until the release of inFamous that the 5th one appeared and put the PS3 in the spotlight for me. So for a long time, my PS3 was a glorified blu-ray player.
Now, after finally picking themselves up with the price drops and the better games, you would think Sony, this company that I had come to love due to their just plain awesomeness during the PS1&2, would keep up the pace.
Enter, Playstation Move. Now, this is the part of the blog that the whole "to each their own" thing comes in and subjectivity vs objectivity matters. So keep in mind, this is my opinion on the matter. The Playstation Move has been a failure since the announcement. The obvious ripoff of the Nintendo Wii controller was supposed to give the Wii a run for its money and convert all the 'new' gamers to the Playstation. Now, motion controls was a nice gimmick brought about from Nintendo, and I'll save the details for another post, but at the time of that announcement, I was f**king sick of motion controls. The only thing Move and Kinect have done right with them, as a side note, is make them an unrequired part of the console. But I digress again. $99.99 for the Move bundle which included the Wand, Eye, and Sports Champions. Not bad for the price, I must admit, but the development time in that could have gone into improvements for other things, I feel, because I have not seen a huge library for the Move, nor have I seen it fly off the shelves like the Kinect/Wii did on launch.
Ok, so a few business flubs shouldn't be enough for me to start to flip my opinion on Sony right?
Man you are bad at this.
Playstation Network. The most recent flub of them all. I do not blame Sony entirely for this, mostly their PR and business leaders. When they decided to remove the OtherOS functionality of the system (for those that don't know, this allowed you to install Linux on your PS3 and have all kinds of fun) that pissed off a lot of people, and eventually led to Sony inadvertantly pissing off the correct group of hackers. Now, I do believe that it was not Anonymous that hacked PS3. But whoever did accomplish this is definatley no stranger to the Anon crowd. Now, as I have said, the PSN outage did not affect me personally because I am a Xbox Live user, but no one can deny the amount of damage the outage caused to their brand. People buying Xbox360s just because of this, Sony putting out the old "it going to be impossible to hack our system again". Probably the worst thing you can say when you have been hacked, is that they cannot do it again, it is an open invitation for them to try harder, and more than likely succeed. Luckily for them, they got the network back up, and did extremely good PR, giving away free games and turning their whole E3 '11 opening into a 20minute apology.
And finally, the whole reason I got thinking about this is their customer service. Now, as I mentioned, I own a PS3. One day about 2 weeks ago, I noticed significant slowing in the operation of the games, and the XMB. Thinking I just need to reset the system/restore the DB, I did just that, and nothing worked. I attempted to contact customer support to see if I can get on the phone/live chat with a tech to see if they could troubleshoot my issue. I may be a computer geek, but if there's something I don't know about support wise, I'm still going to ask someone who knows more than I do. Anyway, I was unsuccessful in reaching a person. After typing in my problem, I was automatically redirected to a page that says "Cost to service: $99.00 USD". No offering to speak to a rep (hard pressed to find a number to being with) no mention of anything in order for me to attempt to solve the problem on my own. I was livid, mostly because I had to call Microsoft's support for a different issue and was able to reach their tech support at 1 A.M. (and they were domestic) and received all the help I could ask for. That's appaling to me. While it may seem minor, its just something a company should do, offer customer service for their products that doesn't alienate and charge rediculous amounts without a person at least spending a few minutes to go through some easy diagnostics of some sort.
Now, none of these reasons alone will prevent me from buying a PS4, whenever that should come out. However, it might be a couple years before I even look into buying one.