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Creator of Pong and the man behind Chuck E. Cheese gives thumbs up to Wii and Xbox 360, but thumbs down for PlayStation 3

Nolan Bushnell, founder of all things at one point joyous to children, is featured in an interview with Red Herring where he is asked for his opinion on the state of the video game industry today.

Bushnell, who started Atari, is one of the grandfathers of the video game industry. When asked about about which areas he still follows of his former industry, he said, "I’m very curious and interested in the Nintendo Wii. I think it may expand the market beyond the hardcore [18- to 24-year old]." 

He also expressed fondness for Microsoft's online strategy, saying, "Xbox Live is interesting because it potentially becomes the platform for the living room."

But the tuned changed to a less positive note when it came to PlayStation 3. 

"I think Sony shot themselves in the foot… there is a high probability [they] will fail. The price point is probably unsustainable. For years and years Sony has been a very difficult company to deal with from a developer standpoint. They could get away with their arrogance and capriciousness because they had an installed base," Bushnell said.

Bushnell explained that ease of software development could be a deciding factor: "They have also historically had horrible software tools. You compare that to the Xbox 360 with really great authoring tools [and] additional revenue streams from Xbox live… a first party developer would be an idiot to develop for Sony first and not the 360. People don’t buy hardware, they buy software."

The interviewer then gave a counterpoint, stating that Sony must have been doing something right in order to sell over 100 million units of each PlayStation generation.

"It wasn’t anything brilliant that they did. With the PS and PS2 it was timing. They had the right pricing at the right time [and were] almost the accidental winner," answered Bushnell. "It would not surprise me if a year from now they’ll be struggling to sell 1 million units. [Factoring in the PS3’s price], I think in the U.S. the number of early adopters you have is actually around 300,000."

Sony is targeting to ship 400,000 PlayStation 3 consoles to the U.S. for its launch window, and a considerable portion of the allotment already sold out via pre-orders.

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RE: Same price, great tools?
By akugami on 11/10/2006 12:19:44 AM , Rating: 2
The PS1 had a large library of games because it Sony got lucky and made some smart decisions (mainly using a CD drive instead of super expensive cartridges) and because of the stupidity and hubris of Nintendo. The PS2 got a large library from the momentum of the PS1 as well as having the largest installed user base.

What's happening with the PS3 is, even the developers (which makes all those games for Sony) are a little hesitant to go all out in support of the PS3. Even they are wary of the very high price point and thus, they're hedging their bets by spreading games around to the PS3 and Wii.

One must remember it's the developers that made all those games for the Playstation and Playstation 2, not Sony. If they leave, the huge library of games that has been the PS1 and PS2's strength becomes negligible since most of the hot games will be cross platform and there will be an arguably equally large library of games for both the Xbox 360 and Wii.

The problem isn't the cost of individual games, though the higher development costs for the PS3 threatens to keep that high. The problem is the initial cost of entry. At $500 (and realistically $600 with tax and a new game), it is simply too high of a cost for the more casual gamers. Only the hardcore and households with more disposable income will buy into the PS3 and I can't see it being more than 10 million roughly by next Christmas and 20 million after the 2008 Christmas season.

The reason is that even with a $100 price drop next Christmas it is still too pricey and out for most people. And let's say the Christmas after that in 2008 it drops another $100. That's still $300 for the lower end system and $400 for the higher end one. While much more affordable, it's not like the Xbox 360 won't drop in price nor the Wii. By 2008, you're likely to see a $150 Wii and a $200 premium Xbox 360.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
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