What If the PS3 came first?

Jan 29, 2009
Well, that’s what I’m wondering this time.The Playstation 3, that jet-black, 5kg shiny piece of metal we’ve come to call a “next generation video game console”, has come into its own somewhat this year, with a whole range of software and top quality games becoming available for it, and its technical aspects becoming more accessible for developers.

With a Blu-Ray player enabling full HD film and television viewing inbuilt into the console, full HD gaming, multimedia functionality, a free online service for playing online with other people around the world, an inbuilt wireless network adapter for connecting to the internet without the need for a wire, a motion sensor control, bluetooth connectivity, a very in-depth menu layout for console tweaking, an internet browser, and depending on the console you bought, a large HDD suitable for storing a mass range of files, the PS3 certainly holds its own in the video game industry.

But don’t think that I am gushing over the PS3, and forgetting the Xbox 360. As an owner of both consoles for multiple years, I can say with much confidence that both consoles have their ups and downs.

Despite the PS3’s long list of positives, its lack of in game voice chat, its apparent liking to dust if left in an enclosed area for more than a couple of hours, its production of heat which could cook food if left on long enough, and, more than anything else, its steep price point. While some would argue that you get more than your money’s worth with its functions, the high cost is certainly a negative when compared to the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii.

Before I get to the point of this article, I will just run off a couple of points about the Xbox 360 in comparison, so that people don’t assume that this article is biased.

Obviously, the Xbox 360’s stellar collection of exclusives and games, as well as its vast online community, its simplistic menus and accessibility for most age groups, its full backwards compability function, its affordable price, high definition gaming, its newly implemented party system, and its cross game voice chat, its PC connectivity functions, its achievement reward system serving as a good form of friendly competition or goal-setting, its sleek and aesthetically positive design, and its comfortable controller make it a vastly popular video game platform, with a strong (and sometimes very vocal and competitive, might I add) community. The console is no doubt great.

But its reliability over a long period of time, its lack of a wireless adapter inbuilt, its pay-to-play online gaming, its limited multimedia playback of certain video files and music files, its huge power supply that generates more heat than most conventional ovens, and its lack of a rechargable controller and wireless headset as standard make it a sometimes frustrating console to own. Certainly its tendency to break and flash violent strips of red known around the video gaming world as the “red rings of death” have become somewhat of a legendary dagger in the console’s otherwise respectable reputation.

So both of these consoles have their ups and downs. The Nintendo Wii of course is considered by some to be in the same category of video gaming as these two, with its next-generation gaming, its affordability rating for what you get being high, its appeal to both casual and “hardcore” gamers alike (*cough* maybe *cough) and its sales figures outweighing both the Xbox 360 and the PS3.

But I would be more inclined to suggest that Nintendo have produced a “family-friendly” console, with an almost conveyor belt stream of games being produced that seem to be based on just about anything, its “kiddie” appeal, and its blatantly obvious, but often denied “casual” market, and that when it comes to trying to find an answer to the immortal video gaming question, “Which is better? The [INSERT CONSOLE HERE] or the [INSERT CONSOLE HERE]?”, the Nintendo Wii is just the child in the back of the car, with the parents in the front, quarrelling over who is the better driver, with the child staring out of the window, creating things in its imaginative mind that the parents just can’t comprehend.

So I’m just going to not include the Wii from now on unless I’m refering to sales. After all, this is an article that is supposed to be focused mostly on the PS3… I don’t want to be constantly side-track like I have been doing to make sure everyone is happy with what I have to say.

Ah, I’ll throw this in now, to separate the idiots who can’t see past their 360 controller from the intellectuals who actually are open to opinions.



Let me take you back to November 2005. This was when Microsoft unleashed the Xbox 360 upon the world, and caused a frenzy among gamers. Never before had a video game console been so… advanced as the 360 was. It raised the bar for video gaming, with its stunning visuals and its HD gaming, and its new and exciting functions. It looked modern, it felt modern. It WAS modern. And this was going to make the big bucks for Microsoft.

With reasonable success with the original Xbox, Microsoft had established that they could produce a video game console that could provide video game entertainment. But they lived in a very big shadow. As did Nintendo. The top dog in the last generation was Sony, with their, at the time, phenomenal console, the Playstation 2. It was a console that had a solid formula, in the PS1, but with some very good improvements. It looked the part, and it brought in monstrous sales figures, to the point where the Gamecube and Nintendo were left eating dust and bits of stone flicked up by the heels of Sony’s shoes.

Microsoft were in a similar position, but they had produced a rival. With Microsoft entering the video game industry, they had set up a rivalry that will surely continue for the next decade, until something comes along and blows everything out of the water (Google, I’m looking at you to produce a video game console… it’s the market you haven’t tried to tap yet *wink* *wink*).

But this initial rivalry was small, and very one-sided. So Microsoft upped the ante. The release of a new console, dubbed the “next generation of video gaming” was to put Sony and their money-making console to shame somewhat. While it still sells strong today, there is no doubt that the Xbox 360, upon release, was a more dominant console.

It was new and exciting, like when the iPhone was released. It was something not really tried before, something that took a section of technology to the next step.

Just looking at Fight Night Round 3 back then would have made you look in awe. It was a whole step up from the PS2’s graphical potential. Of course, the PS2 has good graphics, but in comparison to the 360, the graphics were second best. It’s like putting a bag of ready salted crisps with prawn cocktail - sure, the ready salted crisps are a popular working formula, but the prawn cocktail is a stronger taste, and after trying prawn cocktail, the ready salted just tastes bland in comparison.

Microsoft had opened a door and closed one in the process. With the “next-generation”, there was no going back now. Produce a console after the 360’s release with the PS2’s graphics and technical aspects, and you won’t make your money.

So what would Sony do? They couldn’t just rely on the PS2 with Microsoft a hurdle ahead. They needed their own counterpart to settle the score.

Obviously, the PSP had been reasonably well established. But it was a handheld. It wasn’t a competitor to the 360, not by a long way. Its average sales figures and limited library of games, films and functions would certainly not be a rival console. The PSP and DS have their own war to wage.

Enter the age of the PS3.

Released almost a year after the 360 to the date, on paper, it had the makings of one of the greatest pieces of technology of all time. Its full HD gaming and inbuilt Blu-Ray player alone were enough to get gamers interested.

On paper, its technology outweighed the Xbox 360. It looked beautiful, its metallic, glossy jet black colour, and its smooth surface and streamlined aesthetics made it a pin-up console in the video game world. Nothing had been made like it before. It was a one-of-a-kind almost.
Bold claim that, Mr. Stringer.

Bold claim that, Mr. Stringer.

It’s processing power matched that of most high-end PCs, and yet, it was a video game console.

PC gaming has its own market, but this must have sent a shiver down some of the PC gamers’ backs - it was the dark side of gaming. A console with PC power? Shenanigans.

But Folding@Home was one little example of its power. Siphon the processing power of every PS3 sold, and use it to help with the finding of cures for illnesses. Just this alone was a massive step forward in the technological world. Using a video game console in this way was unheard of, but it was exhilariting just thinking of the prospects.

When it was announced, there was a media frenzy. “It’s a super-computer!”. “It has twice the power of the 360!”. “It has 3 times the power of the 360!”. “The possibilities are endless!”. “Look at it! Just look at it!”.

No question that this was monumental in terms of what it could do to gaming. Emphasis on the “could”.

The hurdle Sony had was that they had produced a console that no-one really knew how to use. It’s blend of PC power and console aspects made it confusing, almost over-whelming. Developers were stumped as to just exactly how to get the most out of it. The technology was mostly established, but what it was used for was something else.

How do you make a game for a console you don’t know how to make for?

This resulted in a very small number of under-whelming games, with a couple of good games in the mix. But these good games, the likes of Resistance: Fall of Man, Motorstorm and Heavenly Sword, showed exactly what you could do with the console.

And over the next 3 years, the console has grown leaps and bounds. Killzone 2, Uncharted, Africa, Metal Gear Solid 4, Ratchet and Clank Future, LittleBigPlanet, Gran Turismo 5, inFamous, Warhawk and SingStar just some of the great exclusives Sony have to offer us gamers for the console. The inclusion of VidZone, Playstation Home, the X-media bar, improving functionalities and the DualShock 3 have helped the PS3 come into its own.

It does a lot for the video game industry. It could be argued that it is turning into a multimedia console, with gaming being a part of it, not its primary funtion. I’d agree with that on some level. I enjoy watching Blu-Rays on it a lot, and I watch and listen to videos and music on it as well as game.

It’s a piece of technology that has grown up.

But it had problems.

After it was released, it was slated and widely not well received, because its high price point did not justify a purchase. It was considered by many as a “future investment”, because at the time of release, the lack of games and the fact that there were only so many functions available made it not worth its price.

This was its downfall.

It suffered in sales. Even though many queued up for hours to get their hands on “the future”, the sales figures should have been more. This can be chalked up to three main factors: the high price, and the loyal fans of the 360, and the fact that it was yet another piece of “must-have” technology.

Many gamers pledged allegiance to the Xbox 360, and others refused to spend in excess of £350/$600 for a video game console. Hardly any Blu-Rays existed, and only a handful of games made it unappealing.

360 “fanboys”, as they have been tagged, boycotted a purchase. If any have read this far, well done. The 360 was the king of the pride, and this new lion was trying to topple a perfectly healthy king. Never goes down well, that.

Matters weren’t helped when the Wii was released soon after. Its appeal to anyone with hands or cash made Nintendo more money than Sony or Microsoft had received. Even the fairly high price of £200/$350 was not enough to dissuade just about anyone from buying it for their kids or their home. It was considered something that had to be in the lounge. The PS3 wasn’t.

But after all this, I wonder? What would have happened if the PS3 had come first? What if the technology for the PS3 existed back in 2005, and Sony had produced and released the console before Microsoft had their chance at raising the bar?

It’s an interesting one, this.

First off, sales would have changed. The 360 not in existance would have meant that the PS3 was the sole console in the next generation league. Its high price point wouldn’t have been as much of an issue, because there would have been no comparison. The 360 on release was priced fairly high, but it was affordable. The PS3 wasn’t.

If the PS3 was released first, no-one could say it was too expensive and be proven right, because nothing like the PS3 would have been around.

Sales wouldn’t have been sky-high, but Sony would have seen good numbers.

Secondly, the fact that the console was limited in its content wouldn’t have been as much of an issue. Once again, with no competitor, people would have been more inclined to invest in a product of the future. Like with the 360, imagine what people would have thought if the PS2 was compared with the PS3. The graphic step up is phenomenal. Show a cutscene of Heavenly Sword, or show a HD clip, and you’d have people salivating at the mouth in 2005. Remember that HDTV wouldn’t have been so popular, if you can remember that far into the video gaming past.

Thirdly, the 360 “fanboy” numbers would be severely diminished in 2009. There weren’t really many people before the 360’s release who refused to accept the PS2’s or the Xbox’s existence if they owned one of them but not the other. So it could be said that the PS3 would have developed PS3 “fanboys” who would have boycotted the 360 because its a possible competition.

Roles would have been reversed. But perhaps not as strongly. I have this feeling that if the PS3 had been released first, you wouldn’t have seen as many “fanboys” as you do at the moment. Gamers who bought the PS3, if I’m brutally honest here, wouldn’t have had enough to play to warrant that kind of behaviour.

Lastly, the PS3 would have been the bar to reach, the Usain Bolt of the 100m. Microsoft and Nintendo would have once again been forced to eat Sony’s dust. Sony would be still be the king of the video game industry, the combined sales of the PS2, PSP and the PS3’s sales would have outstripped anything Microsoft could have thrown at them (Nintendo would probably have had similar success, regardless), and the 360 would have been a lamb to the video gamer slaughter, with people over-exaggerating even more the high mortality rate of the 360, the flaws the 360 had, and there would have been less focus on the positives.

It would have been a very, very strange world. Almost like a parallel universe, where the PS3 is bigger than the 360, the world’s economy is stable, fears of global warming are non-existant, the weather is nice, people are happier, the world is safer, and politicians would know what they are talking about a lot more.

Is it too late to go back?


beer snob
Premium Supporter
Feb 16, 2009
Milwaukee, WI
if the ps3 came first imo the 360 never would have came out.or maybe the extra year would have gave them time to build it better .

more like we wouldn't have as many RROD issues.

if the ps3 had come out first (and all other occurrences swapped as well), then people would just say "look, the 360 is selling just as fast/faster than the ps3 did through the same amount of time."

people can spin a story anyway they want to. right now, the media wants to push the 360. i dont think the story would be any different if the ps3 and 360 switched spots.
Jan 28, 2009
Manteca, CA
WOW! Big article lol. I'll just answer the question, so don't hate if I'm nowhere near what it's saying. But if the ps3 came first, I think they would have been ahead in sales and we wouldn't see the advancements that we have seen as a result of them trying to match XBL.
I think if the PS3 came first the 360 would be ALOT better ... yeah, I said it.

I think they would then probably take their time to match/out do what the ps3 is today.

However, the PS3 would then have a bigger install base.