Sony PS3 marketing mistakes

One of the features of the Sony Playstation PS3, over it’s short life, has been the inconsistent and misleading messages coming from senior Sony management. Starting in early 2006 when Ken Kutaragi announced that the PS3 would be simultaneously launched in November of that year in Europe, North America and Japan. With 6 million units to be shipped by the end of March 2007.

In December 2006 Phil Harrison (then president of worldwide studios) said: “Backwards compatibility, as you know from PlayStation One and PlayStation 2, is a core value of what we believe we should offer. And access to the library of content people have created, bought for themselves, and accumulated over the years is necessary to create a format. PlayStation is a format meaning that it transcends many devices — PSOne, PS2, and now PS3. If the developer wrote the game according to our technical requirements checklist, we will have what we believe will be almost perfect backwards compatibility.” Having in August that year also criticised Microsoft for planning to put two versions of the new Xbox 360 console on the market, claiming the decision will merely “create confusion” for consumers.

In fact as late as February 2007 Harrison was saying: “I believe that the Sixaxis controller offers game designers and developers far more opportunity for future innovation than rumble ever did. Now, rumble I think was the last generation feature; it’s not the next-generation feature.”  And in March he said: “We have made a technical change to the machine which moves us from being a hardware-embedded backwards compatibility solution to one which is a combination of hardware and software.”

In January 2007 Sony America boss Jack Tretton revealed that the platform holder wouldn’t reduce the price of PlayStation 3 until at least mid 2008 saying: “I think the consumers that get their hands on a PlayStation 3 clearly see the value and not only want to buy one for $599, in some instances they’re willing to pay ridiculous prices on eBay.”

SCEA’s senior vice president of marketing, Peter Dille, said backwards compatability went because of price:”We’ve been hearing loud and clear that price is more of a primary concern to consumers.” Meanwhile Jack Tretton said the removal of PS2 backward compatibility wasn’t “dramatically reducing Sony’s cost of manufacturing” instead it was done to “encourage buyers of the entry-level PlayStation 3 to purchase more games designed specifically for the new system.” But David Reeves, president of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe disagreed with both of them saying removal of backwards compatability: “has been the result of extensive research into the entertainment needs and preferences of the next-generation PS3 owners”. If three different reasons aren’t enough for you, Ray Maguire, boss of Sony UK said: “we’re still better off using that money that we’d put into backwards compatibility in either investing in new games or using that money to help support bringing the price down so that people can get into the franchise”.

Meanwhile Sony Computer Entertainment president Kaz Hirai said that Home would not be realeased in 2007 and would be delayed until it could “truly meet the needs and feedback of the users.” And that it wasn’t because of technical problems.

And back to Sony Worldwide Studios boss Phil Harrison who, talking about Europe, said. “This is the third continent out of three, but it is the most important.” Which is why we pay more for the hardware and are behind on game releases.

So, there you have it. If the bosses of Sony don’t know what is going on with the PS3 then how are the customers supposed to?


  1. Sony could simply package a rancid turd in a black box, and use a rusted nail that has to be hammered through your wrists as a control system, and they still would succeed – such is the brand loyalty and blind faith they inspire.

  2. I think the loss of Phil Harrison was a significant blow to Sony. Yes some of his comments like those about the six axis were questionable, but they were in the middle of a law suit about rumble at the time and he couldn’t just come out and say “we know you want rumble but we don’t want to pay Imersion to let you have it”.

    Since Phil left Sony’s focus has shifted away from Home, which I think is a big mistake. He was a true gamer and understood games and the gaming community, I got this impression every time I saw him speak. The messages from the remaining Sony leadership have been all over the place, and I think their system has been disadvantaged as a result.

  3. Bruce,

    Reads to me that you like a good moan, why dont you write something positive?

  4. “So, there you have it. If the bosses of Sony don’t know what is going on with the PS3 then how are the customers supposed to?”

    Well the majority of customers doesn’t even know who Ken Kutaragi or Phil Harrison is…

    what everybody knows is that the PS3 plays blu-ray movies, games and has free online.

  5. Tretton stated “If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that’s been on shelves for more than a few minutes, I’ll give you 1,200 bucks for it.”

  6. We pay more because of the economy, not because of Sony. Xbox 360 and Wii do cost more here as well, you realise.

  7. Aren’t people tired of writing “PS3 marketing mistake” articles yet? Talk about being late to the party, this was news 12 months ago, but certainly not today. Most of these quotes a year old – how is this relevant now? Here’s the fact: PS3 has had a huge year-over-year sales increase, and is currently outselling the Xbox 360 in all regions (U.S., Europe, Asia). Sony’s marketing in the 12 months has been much improved and PS3 sales reflect this. Had this article came out in February of 2007, I might have cared. But August 2008? Are you stuck in a time machine?

  8. Let’s not forget the mixed messaging around whether the PS3 is a entertainment hub, or a game machine, or a blu-ray player, or all of the above. Kutaragi would have it buttering toast & washing your car for you, & Hirai would have it be whatever it is you want to buy at the moment.

    That’s not even including when David Reeves becides to open his mouth & find another way to mix up everything (remember the 60gb Price drop/discontinuation fiasco just around E3 last year?).

    You’re of course right Bruce. It seems for the last 3 years it seems Sony cannot help but step on their own johnson over and over again. The clear vision that made Sony the leader the last 2 generations seems to be getting a little hazy…

  9. Very good points made here, once again it baffles me that these realities are so seldom talked about. The last promise was that 2008 would be the year of the PS3, well I’m still waiting for that to start.

  10. 100% true what u said. I think, only 1 point u missed. they also called the PS3 the cheapest Blue-Ray Player in the market. So, someone who just need the high defination video player, bought the PS3 may not be a video games. So, there will be possibility that a good amount of PS3 owner not be a PS3 gamer. So, I thinks, its a mistake. Think that PS3 sold 50million, there may be 20million PS3 which don’t used as a Game console. On the other hand, Wii and Xbox360 only sold for game not as a video player. Also, if HOME is going to be a “Second Life ” killer, then people will just play the home and don’t buy games becoz big chunk of time they will spend on HOME with meeting other people. then SONY may lose some game sales revenue. Anyway, maybe I am wrong about this but it just my thought.

  11. LOL. Kudos in compiling these for us.
    Who says the internet doesn’t do humanity good?

  12. Same Phil Harrisson believing solo games are doomed. Too bad Team ICO, that’s your last game, then you’re out.

    Somehow, I think that Sony misses the crazy and big mouthed ballsy Kutaragi. I feel he would have been able to really push the PSP as the next posh toy you must acquire faster than what we saw, and the PS3 campaign would have been much more coherent.

    Those initial ads, whatever they were supposed to be the first part of, I don’t think we’ve seen what was coming next.

  13. Well, this is last year.

    Sony is much better now, not to mention PS3 have more exclusives than other consoles for 2009 and 2010.

    Also is presenting the 1st Game FPS with 256 Players Online.

    PS3 is getting more revolutionary things.

    Also Proyects with the new Camera, also the new Motion Sensors.
    And better games thanks to the capabilities of the CPU and Blu ray.

    Not to mention the PS3 Slim and PS3 80GB at $299.

    And a lot more things for Entertainment and Gaming.

    The Marketing depends.

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