Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sony Shares Drop - Outlook Bleak

Looks like the fallout from Sony's November sales figures is not yet done. CNN Money out saying that the PS3 and Blu-Ray are a sinking ship. This was followed by Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank lowering Sony's rating, causing a drop in shares. Sony is going to lay off approximately 16000 employees this year, 8000 regular staffers and 8000 contractors and part time. While some news outlets did support Sony, overall outlook looks bleak.

The PS3 has been something of a tragedy for Sony - managing to wipe out its dominance of the gaming console market and severely eroding consumer confidence in the company. A look at the comments here on this same news item is indicative of people's mood towards the company.

I myself am a RPG gamer. Considering the PlayStation brand's traditional strength in RPGs, I bought a PS3 and faced a continous string of disappointments. In the end exclusives sell consoles; the PS3 seems to excel at losing them. What's even more disturbing is that when Sony does release exclusives, even high profile ones, the sales are disappointing. Sony seems to have lost the will to succeed; they need to overcome this hubris and get their act together.

I recently bought a couple of games from retailers outside India and had them shipped in - Valkyria Chronicles from ShopTo.net and Disgaea 3 from Play-Asia.com. Amazingly, it was cheaper to buy them from abroad than to buy them in India. Sellers on EBay sell them for as much as Rs 4000 each while you can get them from UK/Hong Kong for around Rs 2500 each. The experience wasnt very smooth - ShopTo delivered the game in 7 days while Play-Asia lived up to the notoriety it has earned of late and took 21 days for delivery.

When you buy a PS3 the Pallika bazaar people will tell you that you can swap a game for Rs 500. When you go to swap it, they will say your game has fallen in value while the new one costs Rs 4000 and ask for Rs 3000 to swap a game that can be shipped form UK for Rs. 2500

Sony provides lackluster support, refuses to repair imported consoles and doesnt bring most games to India at all. There is no Indian PSN store and due to Sony's agreements with MPAA they continue to make it nearly impossible for people to buy games from other region PSN stores while giving ridiculous excuses such as that internet speed in India is too low.

If you go to buy a Blu Ray movie, you will soon realise that Blu Ray movies are region coded and the PS3 is also region locked for movies. Meaning if you buy a Blu Ray movie in India, it will not play on your imported console. Of course, with the Blu Ray of the Dark Knight costing thrice as much as the DVD, I am not sure why I would buy it in the first place. DVDs look good enough on my 32 inch LCD; I am sure many other people feel the same - ergo Blu Ray's lackluster sales.

I strongly advise people to stay away from PS3 if you live in India. Meanwhile I have been told that I can sell the PS3 back in Pallika for 12k. I am tempted to do that, lets see... I am defnintely buying an Xbox soon...
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