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Gaming Matters: The State of Play

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It was before Christmas when I last took a look at the games industry and things have moved on apace since then. CES provided one significant development in the dramatic fall of HD DVD and Sony has been riding the wave ever since, with everyone lining up to declare 2008 as the year of Sony and the PS3. Hell, Nintendo and Microsoft have had their turns so it only seems fair, but nothing is quite as straightforward as that and now seems as good a time as any to have a look at the outlook for the industry in 2008. So, without further ado, let's get started by looking at Sony itself.

Sony

What might have happened if HD DVD had won? Lord only knows, but anyone with any interest in Sony's well being must have been delighted when Warner Brothers dropped the proverbial bomb at CES this year. To say that the fortunes of the PlayStation 3 and Blu-ray were joined at the hip might be a slight overstatement, but it goes without saying that Blu-ray's victory was a great fillip to Sony's faltering third generation games console.

I say faltering, but talk of a PS3 resurgence isn't all idle chat: things really are looking up. Latest sales figures suggest the PS3 managed to out sell the Xbox 360 in February, while the PS2 continues to best both of them despite its relative age. There are also suggestions that the PS3 is selling faster than the Xbox 360 did over the same time period, giving credence to the idea that the PS3 might be able to catch up sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, the PSP continues to do a steady trade, even if the Nintendo DS continues to trounce all comers. So, with these positive trends and the value of the Blu-ray drive vindicated, is this really the year the PS3 comes of age?

As much as I'd like to buck the trend and say no, all the evidence is in its favour. Its reputation has been done plenty of favours by the move to a sub-£300 price point, which for a Blu-ray player come games console is a very tempting price for anyone looking to get a taste of high definition entertainment in both forms. And, unlike most of 2007, the PS3 can offer a good selection of games due in 2008. Yet, any prediction of success must also be tempered by its starting point, which is nowhere near where Sony might have once imagined it to be. Let's not forget that, before the PS3, Sony had enjoyed two generations of total domination of the home console market, which it has managed to squander come this generation.

Target: Sony will definitely be targeting the Xbox 360 and if the PS3 doesn't exceed its sales this year then it should be considered a failure. In addition, Sony needs a successful launch of its much vaunted PlayStation Home service to prove it can deliver a convincing community platform.

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