Gloom, not doom.

A lot of people are mad at Sony. Not everyone, some people are just annoyed. There are certainly a great number of indifferent people, and plenty who are still staring dreamily at pictures of the PS3.

Now, Sony's done many things to raise one's ire. They took out the rumble pack from their controller and shamelessly imitated Nintendo. They priced their system at $500-$600. They use a Cel chip which, while powerful, has an architecture that currently gives developers migraines. And most recently, they told us we'd buy it without games.

You can guess that everyone and their twin brother has projected a horrible, firey death for Sony and everyone involved. It doesn't take much to know that angry people write angry things, and that even the best of attempts to think straight when one is livid with rage go awry. As such, reading the comments on /. will lead you to believe that the gamers of the world are ready to swim to Japan and wring Sony's neck in the greatest seaborne invasion since Normandy.

I'm certainly not perfect, and I'm sure I've cast my share of doom at Sony here and there. However, despite continual attempts by Sony's wonderful PR (seriously, who hired them?) to destroy their chances at another successful console Sony will certainly do well. Consider what I have to say.

Nintendo once had a monopoly on the video game market, followed by another near monopoly. The NES and SNES quite simply dominated. Some people had Sega's Genesis, but hands down Nintendo was still king. Today, Nintendo is third in the US, and generally low on market share in general. They've always made profit, but were they to continue to hemorrhage market share they certainly would go out of business.

What went wrong with Nintendo, at least partially, is what's going wrong with Sony now. Namely, hubris. If you look at it historically, no console manufacturer has maintained dominance for more than two generations. Both Atari and Nintendo enjoyed the high life. One collapsed, was consumed, and was spat out as a brand. The other lives on, but many say barely. Sony's at the same juncture as Atari and Nintendo were, and is repeating their mistakes.

I highly doubt Sony is going to follow in Atari's footsteps, if only because Atari's vanity was so great that cartridges were literally bulldozed into landfills. They are more likely to go the way of Nintendo because of the similarities between the two companies. Beyond both being japanese, they both supplanted a previously popular competitor (although the situations were different), and they both released (or will release) the most technologically powerful system, last, in the generation they lost (or will lose) the limelight.

The Nintendo 64 was the best system in terms of graphics, heck, hardware in general. Four built in ports meant easy four player games. It was a dream. It was also built with the attitude, "They'll buy it because we're Nintendo". It was sold with that attitude, and by the time Nintendo had figured out that something was amiss, Sony was laughing all the way to the bank. However, the Nintendo 64 did very well for the very reason they thought it would. It was Nintendo, and so people bought it. However, as good as slightly less than half the market may seem it's a staggering drop from a monopoly.

Sony is probably going to experience something similar. People will definately buy the PS3, lots of them. I'd be surprised if Sony failed to sell at least 50 million PS3s before they're done. However, considering the success of the PS2, selling only that many is a staggering drop in success. If Sony doesn't realize what's happened when they start work on the PS4, they'll be near to where Nintendo is now.

Unfortunately, Sony has many more problems to face than Nintendo did in the same position. Specifically, Nintendo never failed to make a profit on any of its consoles, and also had our favorite Nintendo franchises to carry them along. Sony, on the other hand, is not as straight out profitable as Nintendo. Despite having somewhere between 1/10th and 1/5th the market share Sony has, Nintendo made more money on their Gamecube than Sony made on the PS2. Additionally, Sony's major franchises are actually third party products. Metal Gear Solid and Grand Theft Auto are already taking the first steps to leaving them. What were originally thought to be Sony exclusives turned up elsewhere. Snake will be in Super Smash Brothers: Brawl, and Grand Theft Auto 4 will be on the Xbox 360 with exclusive content. The latest and greatest Final Fantasy has always been on the Sony train since the N64 failed to provide the storage space for those eye dropping computer rendered sequences. While Final Fantasy XIII will be a PS3 exclusive, Nintendo's been reigning on Sony's parade with many of it's own exclusives such as Crystal Chronicles and numerous remakes of the old classic Final Fantasies.

In short, Sony will do well this generation, but is on road to destruction. Sony will not suddenly drop off the map this generation. However, they're going to have to work doubly hard next generation to prevent from falling into that long list of companies that didn't last in the world of video games. I think they can do it, it's up to them to actually do so.

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