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THE CONSOLE SKIRMISH

31 March 2007

The PS3 has launched here in flat Hollandia to an overpowering lack of buzz and deafening silence. UK:Resistance, the tongue-in-cheek headquarters of the slightly less tongue-in-cheek anti-PS3 movement, will be very pleased indeed.

Sony had pre-emptively released a press statement that of the allotted 50.000 units for the Netherlands, 44.000 had been pre-ordered. In this jubilent message, they failed to inform everyone that these pre-orders were not from customers at all, but simply the amount of PS3's the shops had ordered on the, it would appear later, erroneous assumption the console would actually sell. Proof of this is all around; you need only enter any shop to see stacks of PS3's left unsold, just like in the US. Rumours estimate an amount of 10.000 to have been sold. But that's obviously not what Sony would want people to believe.

I've actually become a bit milder towards the PS3. A few months back, after their umpteenth embarrassing press fuck-up, I began to take pity on them, and ever since I've decided I had my fun and now was the time to act like a professional again (whatever that means) and just regard everything more objectively. That's not to say I still don't very much like the PS3, but I'll judge its merits from a neutral point of view. Though a slight case of maniacal hand-wringing could not be denied me when hearing of its launch-day failure.

Some positive things about the PS3. The boxes it sells its games in are nice. They're transparant, white-ish and of a different make than the standard DVD-size ones. I liked it. They're also pretty thin. It's very ergonomically justifiable. Another really nice point is that the advertisments on TV are great. They're stupendously mystifying and bear almost no relation whatsoever to the PS3 save for the revealing slogan at the end, but who cares? With their weird, philosophical ads they manage to capture the zeitgeist of the literate, educated middle and upper class. That might not bring them heavy sales, but Sony have always had a tradition of creating bizarre and wonderful ads for the Playstation that I really like (until they decide again it's not working and replace them for tedious, condescending shit).

So, there are still some good things about the console. Of course, the line-up of games is still far too weak to justify the huge expense; consisting only of mediocre original titles or good ones that have already been out for a year on every other platform imaginable. But wait one year and you'll have a really decent console. Of course, whether it'll be able to beat the Xbox 360 by then, which will at that time have dominated the upper-end console market for over two years, remains to be seen. The one thing that is already clear, however, is that Sony have lost the throne they held for a good ten years. I think that's about the healthiest thing that could have happened to the company at this point.

Roderick.