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I'm Dreaming of the PS3 Slim...

Written By: E. Thomas

2009-08-17

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Is the PS3 slim the worst kept secret in the video game industry? For months devoted Playstation fans have been teased with information regarding a new model Playstation 3. Now we all know Sony is famous for creating slim and sexy revisions of their popular video game hardware. Releasing a PS3 slim is only keeping with the company's long and consistent track record. However, many exciting rumors have emerged since we first heard about the possible revision. Not only that, the new hardware is slowly being leaked onto the Internet in one of the most clever viral marketing campaigns to date. Is this all too good to be true? Let's find out the truth for ourselves.

On the Eve of the PS3 Slim Announcement:

This week brings the start of the GamesCom Convention in Cologne Germany. This is sure to see the launch of a huge number of new games, designed to be played on everything from mobile phones to home gaming consoles. The Sony Corporation is planning a lengthy press conference for this event. The conference will be held at 12:30 EST. Millions of Playstation fans await this event with great anticipation. Why? Because we may finally see the official announcement of the much rumored PS3 Slim. A lot is riding on this new hardware. And dozens of web sites have already predicted tomorrow will be the big day. Its been a long and bumpy road leading to this moment. You'll see why this event and this new hardware is so important.

PS3 vs The Competition

Its no secret the Playstation 3 has struggled in the video game market. Ever since its debut the controversial machine has fought tooth and nail for its place in the highly competitive industry. The machine has even had a rough time in Japan, Sony's home turf, and a country usually very loyal to Sony products. (editor's note: Luckily PSP is doing extremely well in Japan. And the legendary PS2 cruised past 20 million sold long ago.)

Although the machine first launched at a steep $600 price point, the PS3 has received several major price drops bringing the current retail price to $400. Sony has even released several outstanding hardware bundles, including the extremely popular 80GB Metal Gear Solid 4 bundle. Still, despite all the effort, the PS3 has performed well below expectations. And for past 12 months straight the PS3 has been outsold by its two main rivals in the North American video game market.

This constant struggle has lead many to believe there would be a significant hardware price drop sometime in the near future. This would bring the PS3 into a more competitive space with the Xbox 360 and the insanely popular Nintendo Wii. Both systems have price points well below the PS3. (editors note: however when you factor in the extras the Xbox 360 is actually more expensive than the PS3. That topic is worthy of its own article.)

Activision Head Threatens to "Drop" Playstation 3 Development: We Call His Bluff

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"Activision's Bobby Kotick, not to be confused with Mr Kotter."

Earlier in the year Activision CEO Bobby Kotick threatened to drop all Playstation 3 development if Sony did not reduce the price of the Playstation 3 console.

Kotick boldy stated: “I'm getting concerned about Sony – the PS3 is losing a bit of momentum and they don't make it easy for me to support the platform.  It's expensive to develop for the console, and the Wii and the Xbox are just selling better. Games generate a better return on invested capital on the Xbox than on the PlayStation.”

Kotick's solution to the problem? Drop the price of the Playstation 3. Honestly, this is an old sollution we've actually heard many times before. Still, despite his complaints, I believe Mr Kotick is bluffing. First, he's not going to alienate a console with an estimated 23 million users. Financial reasons alone ensure he will never abandon the PS3 unless it totally dies. Think about it, both the Xbox and the GameCube sold 20 million units in their life time and yet both companies had lots of developer support. The PS3 still has several years ahead of it and its 23 million user base is still growing strong. No one walks away from easy money.

Also, being the CEO of the world's biggest 3rd party developer he is privy to a lot of inside information. He KNOWS there is going to be a another price drop, and his statements are merely a way of making himself and his company look powerful and influential. It's a very Machiavellian tactic. Remember, this is the same company that claimed they were so powerful they would "influence hardware development." (editor's note: tell that to Nintendo. They released the Nintendo DSi making Activision's extremely popular Guitar Hero DS games obsolete.)

The Shoop seen around the World: Viral Marketing 101

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Earlier this month this outstanding photoshop image was posted on the ever popular NeoGAF forums. This image, created by a dedicated NeoGAF user, has become extremely popular. It has been posted on Internet sites all over the web. It has also been poorly photo-shopped into several fake department store circular ads. But what's the real truth behind this image, aside from the fact that it was created by a talented and devoted Sony fan? The dissemination of this image is all part of a viral campaign to promote the arrival of the new hardware. Now I'm not saying this image was created by a Sony employee, but rather this image was probably seen by a clever publicist who just took the image and ran with it. After all, viral marketing is more effective when it appears organic and fan driven.  And as everyone already knows, NeoGAF forums is loaded with publicists and viral marketing agents. They are like wolves disguised in sheep's clothing.

On the eve of the PS3 Slim announcement, IGN.com (via Game Informer) reminds us that the Xbox 360 hardware sucks

I should also point out, that on August 17th IGN.com, among other sites taking info from Game Informer magazine, has posted a new article claiming the Xbox 360 failure rate has risen to an alarming 54%. Now I'm not going to argue that possible fact as I've already had my 360 fixed 3 times. Almost every 360 owner I know has had their system fixed. However its the timing of this "article" that makes it extremely suspicious. If the PS3 slim is announced it will happen on August 18th. On the eve of this great announcement we get a reminder of the inferiority of a competitors product.    

Now the reason we mention IGN is simple.  You could argue they are a site that has been notoriously loyal to the Sony Corporation. The truth is web sites are run by people. And no matter how hard people try to be impartial everyone always has a personal favorite.  The entire gaming media has a loyalty to one group or another, just like the big press. Some are loyal to the Conservative audience, others back the Liberal crowd. Web sites are also a business and as such, they all have their favorite corporate sponsors and partners. Corporate loyalties can also be formed through personal friendship within the industry. You get to know people for so long that it could taint your opinion of their products. For whatever the reason, this particular site has a lot of "team players" on their staff.  At least that's how it appears to me. 

The funny thing is, sometime last week IGN.com and the hilarious gang from Mega64 produced an unusually slick "comedy video" making fun of the PS3 slim rumors. Honestly, and I'm just going to be blunt, this video is more of a commercial than an actually comedy bit.  This is true viral marketing at its best. 

Watch for yourself and see.

PS3 Slim: Coming Soon to a store near you?

Although all signs appear to confirm the existence of the PS3 slim, we still await official confirmation from Sony. If this all turns out to be a pipe dream there will be a lot of disappointed fans. Fortunately, the odds appear in favor of the release of a PS3 slim and along with it, a price drop, at least on the current hardware. So what do fans want from the new machine? Let's take a look at our own wish list.

What we want from the PS3 Slim

-Firmware 3.0. The much rumored PS3 firmware 3.0 is worthy of its own article. All we can say is that this highly anticipated firmware upgrade promises to revolutionize the PS3 experience. And although I like the current PS3 firmware, the overall appearance is still a bit bland. Hopefully 3.0 will address this issue along with bringing a host of new features to the PS3.

-The return of PS2 compatibility. This feature is probably the most desired among die-hard PS2 enthusiasts such as myself. When I purchased my PS3 (at launch) I actually traded in my PS2. I never felt so bad in my life. I honestly felt like I was betraying and old friend. And even though I own a 60GB Playstation 3, I eventually bought a PS2 Slim just in case. In many ways the PS2 is still one of the best consoles ever made. Its insanely robust game library would be a real boost to the current PS3 market.  It would also help shatter the myth that the PS3 "has no games."

-Price Drop. Let's face it, the poor global economy really hurt the video game industry, especially the Playstation 3. A price drop, at least on the current model, would lead to tremendous growth in the Playstation 3 hardware market. Its a no-brainer. Let just hope the PS3 Slim also debuts at a consumer friendly price. $299 seems to be the magic number. And rumors already circulate that Microsoft will drop the price on their own Elite Model to $299, down from $400, the same price as the current Playstation3. (editor's note: how will Nintendo respond? Possibly with new Wii colors, a new pack in, and a heavy marketing push.)

-A major push for digital distribution. Although I currently admire Sony's outstanding PSN Store, I really find the software selection to be lacking. The Playstation franchise has one of the best gaming catalogs in the history of the business. Sony desperately needs to exploit this goldmine of old titles. I would like to see a massive update of PS1, PS2 and PSP classics on the PSN store.

Counting the Minutes...

Tom Petty was right. The waiting really is the hardest part. As the possible release of the PS3 slim draws close my anticipation grows by the minute. Even though I already own a 60GB Playstation 3, I would love a second unit for my home. Its worth buying an additional machine just for the Bluray Player. Still, the idea of a slim and sexy PS3 really excites me. Sony has always made some of the hottest looking electronics. And I have always loved their Slim console revisions.  Let's hope the future brings the news we've all been waiting for. Until then I wait with baited anticipation.....

UPDATE: It seems the folks at TheSixAxis.com (we've never heard of them either) have "borrowed" the title for this article. Just days after this article was published they published their own article entitled "Dreaming of the 360 Slim." Real original huh?