Being at the same inspired by PC Magazine´s and Games are fun´s idea, as well as amused and shocked by their conclusions, respectively, here are my own predictions for the coming year in videogames. Let´s start with the PlayStation3. I will add predictions about the other two consoles in the coming days.
Launch date/price: The PS3 will be delayed until at least the later summer, probably July or even August, when it will launch in Japan. The US market will most likely see the console in time for christmas. Europeans will have to wait until early 2007. The console will be priced between $400 and $500 and will soon be dubbed the ´PayStation´.
Pre-E3 press conference: At the pre-E3 press conference, Sony will expand on the titles shown a year ago. ´Killzone 2´, ´Metal Gear Solid 4´ and ´Unreal Tournament 2007´ will be presented as the killer apps for the console. There will be a more concrete showing of ´Eye Toy´ for the PS3 (using colour recognition), but the main focus of the presentation will be on games for the core gamers, as well as the usual talk of the PlayStation being the media hub of tomorrow´s living rooms. On a sidenote, a new controller design will be revealed. It will be more reminiscent of the classic PlayStation controller.
E3 showfloor: There will be between ten and fifteen playable games on the showfloor but, similarly to the Xbox360, the majority of general interest journalists will be disappointed with the look of the games. With studios still unfamiliar with multi-core development, they will not be able to deliver on the promise of the ´Unreal´ and ´Killzone 2´ demos shown the year before (again, like the Xbox360 titles compared to the first demos).
Sales and reactions: Consequently, the PS3 will have a similar launch to the Xbox360. Fans will buy it, casual gamers will not see enough of a difference between the PS3 launch titles and current PS2 games to make the investment. Also, the PS3 is the first PlayStation to lack Sony´s superior industrial design that consumers have gotten used to. The weak design and amateurish logo will not make consumers see the console as a style gadget. By the end of the year, Sony will have sold between two and three million consoles, a sobering result.
Successes and setbacks: Sony´s biggest success will be their marketing and PR. Though the expected PS3 sales will not materialize, publishers will not quickly lose faith in the PS3. They will be forced to consider the possibility of Sony slipping from the top spot. For the first time, they will have to question the inherent strength of the PlayStation brand. But in 2006, there will be no official changes in Sony´s third party support. It will continue undeterred.
The biggest setback for Sony in 2006 will be Blu Ray. Blu Ray and HD-DVD will battle it out for most of the year. But a number of companies that had pledged to only support Blu Ray will come out supporting both. By the end of the year, the tide will have turned slightly in favour of HD-DVD. Essentially, though, neither format will achieve any noteworthy market penetration.
Conclusion: 2006 will not be a successful year for Sony. The PlayStation3 will not live up to its expectations and sell only reasonably well. It will suffer from the lack of consumer interest in Blu Ray technology and from its sobering launch line-up. Publishers will continue to support Sony the way they have, but 2006 will be the year that faith in the PlayStation brand is starting to slip.