Sony PlayStation 3 May Not Outsell Predecessor, Admit Ex-Sony Execs.

"You Cannot Be Lucky Enough to Get Three Gold Medals in a Row," Says Former SCEE President

by Anton Shilov
11/25/2010 | 05:59 PM

Sony Computer Entertainment is the first company whose game console was sold in more than 100 million quantity and whose PlayStation 2 game console is the best-selling game system ever produced with 147.6 million units sold. But the PlayStation 3 may not be as successful as its predecessors since its rivals are much stronger these days.


Just eight or ten years away Sony had to ensure that it had a significant number of exclusive game titles to attract attention to its console. The competition from Microsoft and Nintendo was not too significant as both struggled to deliver high-quality titles. Both Microsoft Corp. and Nintendo have radically more advanced offerings than back in the PlayStation 2 era and ex-executives of Sony admit that the PS3 may not win this round.

"I hope PS3 can match PS2, but I think the market dynamics are slightly different. It is much more competitive. For a large chunk of its life cycle PS2 did not really have any competition anywhere in the world, so Sony was able to sell a huge number of units. If PS3 does reach the same level it will take longer and it will be a more difficult challenge," said Phil Harrison, the former executive vice president of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, in an interview with Eurogamer web-site.

According to estimates by VGChartz web-site, to date Sony sold 41.3 million PlayStation 3 game consoles, Microsoft shipped 45.4 million Xbox 360 systems and Nintendo managed to supply 76.3 million of its Wii game consoles.

The PlayStation 3 is generally on the right track in terms of leaving Xbox 360 behind in the next several months. But Microsoft is not standing still and may offer additional services for its console, which will improve its value to customers and will not let the system to drop to the third place in the home console race. Still, as the practice shows, the demand for consoles is pretty flexible and once Sony cuts the price of the PS3 once again, more people will get the PlayStation 3.

"I saw a prediction recently that PS3 will probably have the highest installed base of all the next-gen consoles. I do think that will be true, eventually. I think it can sell as many as PS2, maybe more. In the case of both PS1 and PS2, we sold more Slim units than original models. The PS3 Slim has only been out a couple of years. If you could get a PS3 for a hundred pounds... Can you imagine? It could go much higher and last longer," said David Reeves, the former president of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe who retired in 2009.

While Sony PS3 may leave Microsoft Xbox 360 behind, the most important battle is against Nintendo Wii, which is overwhelmingly popular and inexpensive to manufacture. This battle may never be won.

"Ken Kutaragi is a genius, but he got a little bit unlucky with PS3. You can't be lucky enough to get three gold medals in a row," said Chris Deering, , the former president of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe who retired in 2005.

The population of people interested in video games is increasing, so, Sony's PlayStation 3 may eventually outsell its predecessor. But the PS3 will never show the nearly 50% growth of unit sales of PS2 compared to the original PlayStation. In order to do that, SCEI will need to sell 225 million PS3s...