Earlier this week, the Internet teemed with noise and commotion as rumors and speculation concerning Sony’s upcoming “Big Bang” (so dubbed) press conference on Oct. 16 flew across its bandwith. Not content with letting Halo bask in the glow of its record-breaking, national-news earning release, it appears Sony is looking to make some headlines of its own. Days later, a rumor emerged of a soon-to-be-available Xbox 360 that would also be available for a cheaper price.
Earlier this week, the Internet teemed with noise and commotion as rumors and speculation concerning Sony’s upcoming “Big Bang” (so dubbed) press conference on Oct. 16 flew across its bandwith. Not content with letting Halo bask in the glow of its record-breaking, national-news earning release, it appears Sony is looking to make some headlines of its own. Days later, a rumor emerged of a soon-to-be-available Xbox 360 that would also be available for a cheaper price. This, my friends, is just a taste of what's to come as the full-frontal assault that will be this year’s holiday season gets under way. For the corporate execs at the big three (Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo), their Christmas cheer (and Christmas bonus) will depend on how wildly successful their products are. The slow drumbeat of promotion started at E3 and has since built into a hectic, frenzied pounding as games hit the shelves, reviewers slam the games and developers bash the reviewers. Underneath the thin disguise of a Santa suit marches a very determined and ruthless propaganda machine designed to influence your decisions toward key purchases. Let me therefore help you pierce the thick haze of marketing and grasp the plain and simple truth. No. 1: “Liar” sucks, really People like me who relentlessly follow video game news and reviews know by now that the Playstation 3’s strictly six-axis foray fell a long ways from its lofty promises. However, it also seems to be the only game Sony is bent on marketing via TV spots or banner ads on Web sites, so the uninitiated might be fooled into believing it to be a worthwhile purchase. Rest assured, dear shopper, it is not. In fact, this leads me to my next point. No. 2: Things can only go up from here Sony’s looking rather beat-up these days, so much so that when IGN gave new PS3 action-RPG “Folklore” an excellent review, people scratched their head in surprise. Not surprise that the game was that good, but surprise that any PS3 game could be good. This represents quite the sea change for Sony. It means that instead of expecting excellence, critics now anticipate failure upon seeing the PS3 logo. It also means Sony has hit rock bottom, which gives them the chance to undergo a redesign, especially if No. 3 proves true. No. 3: A new SKU for you Though Sony has officially denied any upcoming press conference, the Internet will not quit buzzing about the possibility of a 40GB, $400 PS3. This $100 difference could prove to be a crucial factor for many consumers and drop the PS3’s pricing from ludacrious to extremely expensive. More importantly, though, is what such a drop could do for Sony’s wilting reputation. Many gamers took offense at Sony’s pre-launch assumption that people would cough up $600 for a next-gen console simply because it was branded with the PlayStation logo. This attitude assumes that we are mindless media consumers instead of principled human beings who would gladly choose gameplay over Blu-ray. The great democracy that is the capitalist system voted with its dollars and tossed the PlayStation out of its long-coveted position as king of all game systems. Yet Sony persisted in asserting its dominance and created a emperor-has-no-clothes scenario that not only irked gamers but made Sony seem ignorant. The $100 price cut would be a welcome slice of humble pie. No. 4: A benevolent dictator With “Halo 3” transforming Xbox360s into giant stacks of hotcakes and speculation growing on Sony’s strategy, it seems Nintendo should be wary of their position as current leader. However, Nintendo’s prez recently announced that buyers will face difficulty in finding the-little-console-that-could on store shelves this season. Nintendo’s position is improved twofold. Not only is it already assured of a decent sales figure, but it could probably spend nothing on marketing the console and still sell the same amount, saving both time and money. Is Nintendo honestly struggling to produce the necessary numbers, or are they employing the age-old tactic of creating demand by limiting supply? Since the Wii’s success has stemmed from its appeal to casual gamers, it does not need to fight over the hardcore audience like its competitors. This leads me to believe that an aggressive strategy like purposely withholding consoles is not in the company’s playbook. No. 5: You will probably be happy if you buy “Halo 3” However, if you buy an Xbox 360 for the sole purpose of buying “Halo 3,” then you should know that your soul is now the property of Microsoft Inc. No. 6: “Halo 3” sold a lot of copies Yes, indeed it did. But who’s counting? Did you enjoy this column? Show your appreciation by sending Frank Johnson a Christmas card with $400 in it.