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But Should You Care?

The time has come then, for the PlayStation 3 to step up and be a great games console, that also has a bunch of great secondary features. And, to ask the obvious rhetorical question, what does a games console need? Games of course. Preferably exclusive games, but at the very least lots of them. Which is what the PS3 is finally getting.

Just off the top of my head, the PlayStation 3 Slim launch is to be followed - before Christmas - by a slew games, including Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time, Assassins Creed II, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and - if we're lucky - Gran Turismo 5. You'll notice that three of those much-awaited titles are exclusive, and there are more to come next year (Heavy Rain anyone? God of War III perhaps?)

So, with its £249 retail price the PS3 Slim is now barely more expensive that the Xbox 360 Elite, is far more feature rich and has an upcoming software line-up to compare to that of its rival. Sony might have created a less desirable hardware unit, but the console it has for sale today is ridiculously more compelling a purchase than that of three years ago.

Now is the time to talk about how much value the PS3 offers over the Xbox - because Blu-ray won the HD format war - and now is the time to talk about total cost of ownership - because in a recession, is a £40-odd a year Xbox Live Gold account an expense I want to commit to?
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There's still some ground to be covered though. The number of developers bemoaning how difficult the Cell processor is to program for will probably continue to give Sony nightmares. Fortunately if the Slim does its job of increasing sales and, therefore, the PS3 user base then the likes of Valve and id may be content to suffer in silence, appeased by the increased sales figures developing for the PS3 will bring.

More PS3s in homes means more games studios willing to make exclusives, too, which in turn means more buyers are likely to be swayed the PS3 - it's a bit of a Catch 22. Would Metal Gear Solid: Rising and Final Fantasy XIII be getting multi-platform releases if PS3 sales were ahead of Xbox 360 sales? I think not.

I'm pretty confident that the PlayStation 3 Slim will put Sony in a stronger position than it has been at any point so far this generation. Sony's production costs must be reduced a fair bit with the new design and the new price point, plus the "new" effect should see an increase in sales of both consoles and games, with the latter helping Sony's bottom line. For us, that means a Sony less worried about how much money it's losing and, as a result, able to focus its efforts on making the PS3 as good as it can be.

Best of all, Microsoft will undoubtedly come up with something to hit back with. So even if you're the most dedicated resident of the anti-Sony-pro-Xbox camp, you should see some benefits.

Go ahead and call this too little, too late if you will, but don't underestimate the importance of focussing on the long game. Remember, we're only three years in to the PS3s 10 year lifespan.

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