What we can learn from past PlayStation reveals

PlayStation 3

Announced: May 16, 2005
Release date: 11/17/06 (U.S.)
Launch price: $599 for the 60GB system and $499 for 20GB
Number of launch games: 14

Big mistakes

While still enjoying the enormous success of the PS2, Sony revealed the PlayStation 3 at E3 2005 — and then filled in the rest of the time with a mind-numbing presentation about pixel shaders, floating-point operations, and other boring stats supposedly derived from the PS3’s Cell processor and RSX GPU. Afterward, the company still didn’t show off the console in action, instead putting it behind glass for onlookers to take pictures of.

A year later at E3 2006, Sony president and chief executive Kaz Hirai announced something we all didn’t want to hear: Pricing for the PS3 started at 500 bucks. That made it $200 more expensive than the cheapest version of Microsoft’s Xbox 360, which already had been in the market for a full year by the time the PS3 came out. And Nintendo would release its new motion-controlled console, the Wii, two days after the PS3 launch at just $249.

Much like it did with DVDs and the PlayStation 2, Sony built a Blu-ray player into the PS3 console in hopes of winning the high-definition format war against HD DVDs. But with such obnoxiously high price points, it wasn’t enough to convince consumers to adopt Blu-ray en masse. According to a 2005 interview with Ken Kutaragi, the company wanted you to work hard for it. “We want people to feel that they want it, irrespective of anything else,” he said.

I bought my first PS3 in 2007 with a brand new credit card (foolish, I know), which coincidentally, was also the first time I felt the meaning of the word ‘debt.’ Are you happy now, Kutaragi?

Fun facts and broken promises:

  • Of all the non-playable demos shown at the 2005 press conference, Killzone 2 (posted above) was the most contentious. Sony passed it off as real gameplay footage, but as astute observers already figured out, that was a load of crap
  • The PS3 controller went through dramatic changes before the launch in 2006. In 2005, Sony showed off what looked like a strange, plastic boomerang with analog sticks. It reverted to the old DualShock design before launch, but the controllers still lacked their characteristic rumble — instead, they used the Sixaxis motion technology. Sony’s then-president of worldwide studios Phil Harrison explained that rumble was a “last generation feature.”
  • As promised, backward compatibility with PS1 and PS2 games did work for the PS3 … but only with the 60GB, 20GB, and original 80GB systems. Support for PS2 emulation disappeared when Sony started manufacturing newer models in 2007.
  •  The PS3 shown in 2005 was not the same PS3 released in 2006. Specifically, Sony cut down on the number of ports: Originally, it had six USB ports (four in front, two in the back), three Ethernet connections, and two HDMI outputs. The actual console people hooked up to their TVs shipped with only four USB ports, one Ethernet connection, and a single HDMI output, among other things.

Special thanks to Jacob Lopez.

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