What’s Old is New Again

Posted By Karen Moltenbrey on May 20, 2009 12:00 am | Permalink
Tags: Gaming
Categories: Karen Moltenbrey
It seems like just yesterday (though it was in late 2006) when Sony released the PlayStation 3. Crowds were lined up outside of stores, with eager fans—teens, parents, 30-something-year-olds—camped out in parking lots in the bitter cold, hoping to score one of the little black boxes. I watched the news reports, shaking my head—not so much in disbelief, but in puzzlement. Who would want a game system that badly?

Two days later I found myself waiting outside Best Buy. I was there to get a cable. The store was not open yet, but would be in 5 minutes. The line suddenly started to grow. I commented to the guy behind me, “You’d think they had some PS3s here or something.” He confided that he worked for a delivery service and that he personally dropped off a batch the night before. He was there to buy. So was his girlfriend.

Their goal was to sell their new system on the Internet. He then relayed that he was one of the folks who waited all night just days before. He scored. Not just a game console, but a nice big bonus when he sold the system hours later and made a very healthy profit. As the girlfriend pointed out, she is a college student. “Where else can I make that kind of money in such a short amount of time without getting arrested?” was her question. Well, more of an explanation. But, it sure answered my earlier question of “Why?”

Why indeed. It got me thinking.

So, I followed him into the store. He knew exactly where he was going. We lined up. He said we were all there for the PS3s. The clerk at first said there were none. (He was so out of the loop. I guess he did not work the night before.) He checked. There were 10. I was number 6 in line. In a very orderly manner, we stepped forward when it was our turn, and he handed us the machine. Then we checked out.

The whole process took about 10 minutes. No tents. No overnight waiting. No fighting. No getting pneumonia. No getting turned away after spending 2 days in line. It was easy.

So what did I do? I decided to sell it. The next day I told the person cutting my hair about the experience. Before I got home, she had called and said she had a customer willing to pay me double the price for it. Sold! The money bought a lot of PS2 and Xbox 360 games for the consoles we already had.

Fast forward to April 2009. The PlayStation 3 has found itself knocked out of fifth place by none other than its predecessor, the PlayStation 2. Okay, I get that the Wii has become extremely popular (see the Editor’s Note in the March 2009 issue). But the PS2? What is going on?

According to industry reports, when Sony dropped the price yet again on the PS2 recently, it attracted the attention of many customers, some of whom were likely strapped for cash due to the recession.

Also, consider this: Games for the nine-year-old PS2 cost far less than those for the PS3. Apparently it adds up to an entertainment bargain for many. And developers keep churning out great titles for the system. While the PS3 offers so much more in terms of graphics and capability, there’s something to be said for “less is more,” particularly when it comes to money.

So, who is in the top spots of the gaming war right now? The Nintendo platforms, of course. The Nintendo DS is still going strong at number one, with its just-launched SDi taking the third spot—together accounting for a million sales during April. The Wii came in second. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 took fourth, and according to an industry report, is on track for a record sales year.

Along with the PS3, Sony’s bells-and-whistles handheld, the PSP, posted disappointing sales, with the products coming in at six and seventh place, respectively.

With Sony coming up in the losing column, customers could become the ultimate winners. Predictions are running high that there would be a PS3 price reduction in the near future to spur sales. It worked for the PS2.