Goliath

Did the PlayStation 3 play 'catch up' with the Xbox 360?


(Image credit : 9e3k.com)

It may be safe to say that Sony had ambitious plans with the PlayStation 3 in 2006. Priced at $599, this was supposed to be the ‘next-gen’ high-definition upgrade to the PlayStation 2. However, in its first few years, the Cell-powered black beauty had to endure quite a few growing pains. Most of those growing pains were healed by following suit of rival Microsoft’s strategy with the Xbox 360.

When Microsoft launched the Xbox 360 in 2005 as the successor to their original Xbox, it wanted to dominate your living room. It wanted to be the ultimate entertainment device from games to films. Combined with Windows Media Center, it would stream films from your computer as well use commercial DVDs via the built-in player. What it did best was Xbox Live.

Xbox Live was their premium service to access multiplayer gaming. Silver subscription was a one-month free trial that would convert to Gold for $50 a year. It offered dedicated servers, party chat and great connections. It was one of the best online services of its time and is still evolving today.

In order to compete with Microsoft, Sony decided to make their online services, the PlayStation Network, (PSN) free for all owners of a PS3. That was a value-addition to an already inflated price of a console that at the time had not fully utilized its potential. The system worked but the Japanese electronics giant felt that it needed its own premium service to compete with Xbox Live. Hence the PlayStation Plus subscription service was announced in June 2010, and offered a host of new value-added features for subscribers.

The first was the Instant Game Collection that allowed subscribers to ‘rent’ free games for the life of subscription every month. Currently two games are allotted for the PS3 every month. The service received positive reviews from fans. Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime and other services would eventually make their debut on the PS3 as they had done on Xbox 360. Xbox 360 also does offer free games via their 'Games with Gold' program.

PS3 supported DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) streaming similar to the Windows Media Center by Microsoft. At the same time, software like PS3 Media Server and Tversity allowed any file format to be streamed onto the console.

When the PlayStation 4 was announced last year, Sony stated that PS Plus would be compulsory for online features and the Instant Game Collection would be expanded for it as it was for the PlayStation Vita handheld console. Online services are still free for the PS3 but by offering a premium service similar to Xbox Live, Sony learned that consumers value such services if marketed properly.

The console war between the PS3 and Xbox 360 has pretty much ended but Sony learned some important lessons that have crossed over to the PS4. Will Microsoft learn lessons from Sony this time around? They already have by matching the price of the PS4 and making Kinect optional. The next-gen console war is far from over but it will be exciting who leads and who follows by the time their successors arrive.


GameGrep

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