Sony’s Jack Tretton is in a difficult position right now. His company has on their hands the most powerful console that nobody knows they really want. It’s the thing people will buy “eventually.” It’s got the most “potential” of any system out there, and developers will realize that “one day.”
Today, the San Jose Mercury News digs into the best system available today that no one really wants in an interview with Jack Tretton. Unfortunately, Tretton remains in the dark, deep money sink hole that is the PS3 after the interview, and proves he has no strategy to combat the meteoric growth and popularity of Nintendo’s Wii.
We have seen it time and time again. Tomb Raider was a revolutionary product on the PlayStation. Everyone tried to do a rip off. By the time they got there, it was too late. When Grand Theft Auto came out, everybody gravitated to Grand Theft Auto. Now the Wii is having success. They are touting casual gaming. Supposedly everybody is going to race over to casual games. The unfortunate thing is the fruits of those labors will show up two years down the road, and if the consumer tastes shift, they will find themselves all dressed up with no place to go.
First, let’s officially stop calling them casual games. That’s spin. They’re games and they can be broken into genres. There are puzzle games and action games and adventure games, and people will play them for various amounts of time throughout the day. When people label the Wii a casual system, they’re probably working for the competition.
And as Wired’s Chris Kohler deftly points out, Tretton’s statement isn’t exactly true. In fact, it’s factually incorrect. “The early imitators, the ones that copied the superficial form, might not have hit the mark. But the underlying concepts — sandbox games with large, free-roaming cities and over-the-top fantasy violence and characters — have come to define consumer tastes,” Kohler said.
It will be the same way with the Wii, if it hasn’t already begun already with publishers like EA and others. The first run games were pale copies of Wii Sports, or were vast collections of haphazard mini-games. These were the superficial crop, easily discarded as chaff, but very important none-the-less. They are the base. E3 saw the beginning of a new era. The second wind, so to speak. And as all that money that’s being shifted by developers into Nintendo projects finds a home and takes shape, you’ll see this holiday and 2008 become the “underlying concepts” phase that will truly define the console.
Tretton’s s smart guy. He knows this. He simply has no answers to offer.