I'm really trying to keep a fair mind regarding the PS3. Admittedly, It's fun to bash the $600 console, as it's always fun to bash companies that once reigned supreme then made bad decisions that screwed the people who made them supreme and could, ulitmately, cause that company's demise. However, with that being said, my true belief is that the PS3 will do fine. Yes, it will take a price cut and a couple killer titles before it enters the console war, and no, it won't have the huge gap in sales that we saw between the PS2, Xbox and Gamecube, but, give it a year and people will be asking Santa for the console. Yet, because of this news tidbit from 1Up
, I'm beginning to wonder if the console is seriously going to crash and burn.
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According to a Famitsu
inteview with Kazunori Yamauchi, "Gran Turismo HD", the highly anticipated racing sim for the PS3, will come in two versions: Classic and Premium. "Gran Turismo HD: Classic" will come with no cars and no tracks. The expectation is that gamers will opt to buy the cars and tracks via online microtransactions.
One would think "Gran Turismo: Premium", then, would come pre-loaded with cars and tracks. Well, one would be kind of right. "Premium" will come with 30 cars and a whopping two tracks. Granted, there are plans to release another 30 cars and two more tracks at a later date, but, still, those numbers are pretty weak, and it's clear that Sony expects microtransactions to carry "Premium", too, as there are 750 cars and 50 tracks to be made available for the game.
Regarding pricing of these microtransactions, the Famitsu article reported cars to cost between 50-100 yen ($0.43-$0.85) and courses between 200-500 yen ($1.71-$4.26). 1Up did the math on this and discovered that gamers who want every car and every course will be paying between US$426.50 and US$975. This does not include the "games", which primarily serve as menus.
Please note, we don't know how, exactly, this is going to work. It's possible each gamer will be alotted a certain number of cars and tracks they can download for free with the purchase of the game, but, truthfully, this model isn't looking good for the consumer. What's more, this serves as evidence that Sony is trying to shut out the casual gamer and is aiming only for those who are willing to spend a small fortune to play games.
Part of that small fortune (beyond the console, games and microtransactions) is the setup, as you must be online to take part in this game. Even if PS3 online is free (which is highly doubtful), broadband will be required. While broadband is becoming more and more common, the fact is that Sony is blatantly alienating the millions of people who still don't have broadband, or, dare I say, internet in their homes. Many of these people drove the success of Sony's Playstation consoles, and many did so with games in the "Gran Turismo" series.
With every Sony decision that Sony makes public, it's becoming more obvious that Sony's decision makers live in bubbles. Their ideas aren't bad ones if we lived in a perfect gaming utopia. However, we don't, and, for the PS3 to survive, Sony needs to appeal to those of us who aren't millionaires and to those of you who have lives outside of gaming.