Even with the reduced-price PS3 Slim arriving at the tail end of August, Sony’s console gained considerable ground on the Xbox 360 and the Wii according to the NPD Group, coming in just behind the former by 5,400 sales, and the latter by 67,400 sales. Indeed, the stage is set for the PS3 to top both the Wii and the Xbox 360 in September.
So let’s make the declaration, shall we? 2009 is the Year of the Playstation 3. Nintendo and Microsoft fanboys, delay your vitriol while we qualify this.
The “Year of the Playstation 3″ has become somewhat of a punchline in the gaming press. According to numerous accounts, 2008 was supposed to be the PS3′s year, except that the console never dug itself out of last place in North America, and had no signs of doing so. (To be fair, Sony’s doing just fine overseas, as PC World’s Matt Peckham wrote last month.)
At the start of this year, when some were bold enough to back Sony again, chuckling ensued. But now, things are looking up. It’s already September, so there’s a lot of catching up to do and little time. Come the end of the year, Sony may still be on the bottom of the heap in annual sales, but it’ll have something its competitors don’t: Momentum.
Yes, I said “momentum,” the buzzword Sony’s PR team kept using to describe the Playstation brand even as it languished through the end of last year. No joke, Sony has it now, thanks entirely to the PS3 Slim and the price cut it brought along. Meanwhile, the Xbox 360 seems to be stagnating with a pseudo-price cut, waiting for Project Natal to tap the casual audience. Same goes for the Wii, which desperately needs something to spark interest and stop the shedding of year-over-year sales.
Sony, on the other hand, has nowhere to go but up, and a cheaper, slimmer console is the best way to begin the ascent. Come 2010, the console wars will look a lot different.