The PlayStation 3 showed two sides to Sony. At launch, the device was nothing short of a disaster: overpriced, over-engineered, and out-of-touch with consumers’ wants and needs, it was the manifestation of a decade’s worth of hubris – the product of a company who thought that it could do no wrong.
But three years removed from a catastrophic release, the console’s outlook had already dramatically improved; within six years it commanded enthusiasm among core gamers. And now, as the platform holder looks set to close the curtains on the system’s extraordinary 11 year life, we need to consider just how time will remember the PS3.
Many will, of course, be unable to forget that infamous reveal event, where E3 2006 played host to more memes than all of The Lad Bible’s social media accounts put together. Five-hundred-and-ninety-nine US dollars is perhaps the most memorable of them all, because it was at that precise moment that the PS3 became a laughing stock.
For this author in particular, though, it’s a different moment that defines the PS3: the reveal of the Slim model and the exclusives that would follow. As has been the case with this generation, the Japanese giant really hit its stride three years in, and the launch of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves alongside the shrunken system prefaced the amazing experiences to come.
Sony celebrated the Game of the Year winning success of Naughty Dog’s sophomore effort with a barrage of first-party games: MAG, the underrated mass-scale shooter from Zipper Interactive showed that the PlayStation Network could compete on a massive scale; Heavy Rain illustrated how PlayStation stood for unique experiences; and God of War III was a giant in every sense of the word.
But perhaps the other thing that the PS3 will be remembered for is how bizarrely topsy-turvy the entire cycle was. Just as the console was really starting to find its stride, the PSN outage occurred, bringing the system’s online services down for a jaw-dropping 23 days. It’s unfathomable to imagine this occurring today, but it really did happen in 2011.
In the moment it seemed like the end of the world, but Sony quickly got the PS3 back on track once again: generation defining experiences like Journey and The Last of Us cemented its status as one of the best publishers in the business, and consumer-friendly services like PlayStation Plus meant that it was often offering the best value as well.
So despite it seeming like it was game over on numerous occasions, the platform holder actually managed to place the PS3 in a positive position prior to the release of the PS4, with much of the goodwill from its last-generation box immediately transferring to its current one. And while industry mindshare would suggest otherwise, it was ultimately a deadheat in sales numbers between the PS3 and Xbox 360.
There are rarely shades of grey when it comes to the success or failure of a format, but with PS3 there are many: the console stumbled – almost collapsed – out of the gate, only to find its footing with first-party games and assemble arguably the strongest library of the generation. Sony faltered at numerous hurdles, but it always got back up again.
And for that reason, surely the thing that the PS3 will be remembered for above all else is its tenacity – its reluctance to buckle under the weight of countless blunders and the stink of failure that’s sunk many a system before it. It was a roller-coaster generation for Sony, but it weathered the storm – and the PlayStation brand is all the better for it.
How will you remember the PS3? What are your fondest memories of the console – and your least favourite moments of its lifespan? What are your favourite PS3 games of all time? Hold a vigil for the fallen format in the comments section below.