Former Sony Europe president David Reeves (he retired last Friday) told Games Industry in an interview last week that although the PlayStation 3 isn't dominating the video game industry today, it will--in three to five years.
"I don't think it will be next year, but in three to five years (the PlayStation 3) will become dominant on the market," Reeves told the publication. "The legacy will be that people will see a tortoise and hare situation. In a way, in the end it will be a dead heat. People will say 'PS3 took a while to get going, but it really caught up very quickly and confounded many of the critics from the first year.'"
But the idea of a "10-year life cycle" is a red herring. Sony made the same claims about the PlayStation 2, but released the PlayStation 3 six years into its predecessor's life cycle. Assuming Sony sticks to that same schedule, it's entirely possible that the PlayStation 4 will hit store shelves sometime in 2012--the very earliest point, according to Reeves, that the PlayStation 3 could be "dominant." If the PlayStation 3 is really on a 10-year plan, why should Sony release any console before that time is up?
We should also consider what "dominant" really means. If it's measured by the most consoles sold, the PlayStation 3 has its work cut out for it. It's almost 9 million units behind the Xbox 360 and 28 million units behind the Wii. Considering Sony sold 3.6 million PS3 units during its 2008 fiscal year, it would take about three years just to catch up to the Xbox 360 and almost nine years to catch up to the Wii. Oh, and that's assuming Microsoft and Nintendo don't sell one more unit of their respective consoles.
That puts that "three to five years" claim into perspective, doesn't it?
But maybe Reeves meant that Sony will dominate the entire industry, not just this generation's consoles. As I mentioned, there's a good chance that there will be a new generation of consoles within the next three years. Will the PlayStation 3 be all that relevant then? While the PlayStation 2 still sells relatively well years after the new generation of consoles started, its so-called "dominance" isn't considered anymore. It won its console generation. That's it. Now we're on to a new generation with new consoles.
And that's the problem I have with Reeves' comments. They reflect a desire on the part of Sony to maintain its stake to the so-called "dominance" it once enjoyed. The reality is this: the PlayStation 3 is losing this generation. Badly. That doesn't mean Sony can make up for it by promising success in the future.
We don't want promises, Sony. We want results. We don't care about the PlayStation 3's potential dominance in the future. We want a high-quality (and affordable) gaming experience now. And so far, Nintendo and Microsoft are doing a better job of delivering that. Consumers are voting with their wallets to prove it.