PlayStation: An Unassuming Jack
Who is Jack?
The role of Jack in this tale is played by the Sony PlayStation, th first gaming system ever produced by the multimedia conglomerate. The PlayStation has only been on the market since September, 1995, but has a solid lead on sales with over four million units in North American homes.
The PlayStation's innards consist of a 32-bit R300A main processor which offers 33MHz of speed with graphics resolution ranging from 256x224 to 640x480 with a whopping 16.7 million color palate.
How did Jack do it? The N64 is clearly the better platform with increased power, speed and graphic ability. For Saturn fans, the mighty 32 bit machine contains two graphic processors that allow faster game play while providing top-end graphics with over 32,000 colors and a brand name that offers immediate consumer recognition.
Who is Jack?
Jack's Simple Plan
The Sony PlayStation's lead is due to its simple marketing and planning. A strong foundation has been built from the number of games that have been released, combined with an aggressive marketing attack and smart business practices.
Sony made it easier for license game developers to create new games for the PlayStation. Opening its licensing to multiple developers allowed for numerous advertising campaigns promoting PlayStation product. Of course, these advertising campaigns were designed to entice gaming's primarily male, adolescent demographic with extreme visual flash and the promise of previously un-experienced challenges and competition.
In addition, Sony made sure, unlike its blustering competitors, to keep the retailers happy by keeping the PlayStation on the shelf. Sega ignored secondary electronic store retailers (the mom and pop shops) when first distributing the Saturn and have been dealing with the backlash ever since.
Then in 1996 the price wars started. Sony announced the PlayStation's U.S. $200 price point to compete with the initial $249. N64 price point. Nintendo and Sega matched Sony. Then in the spring of 1997 Sony pushed Sega and Nintendo again, by reducing the PlayStation's price to $149.00. Of course, the others matched the price but it was clear that Sony was the leader and the others could only react.
Dropping the retail cost of the console helped a surge of new consumers decide to purchase the Sony PlayStation. The notation of interest here is that the cost to manufacture the consoles does widely surpass their shelf-price; or in other words, money is lost on every console sold. The theory is, though, that if you have a huge library of games, such as has been developed for the PlayStation, those dollars lost can be made up elsewhere.
Supplying the Gamers
The true key to any success in the video game market may be feeding the beast. A new gaming system can only succeed if it has enough games to make it worth buying. Looking at the number of games available for the three leading platforms, Jack is becoming stronger than his foes all the time...
There is no doubt that Nintendo rushed the N64 to market last Christmas without putting enough thought into the fact that consumers, once they had this very cool toy, would actually want to use it. The system released with only two games, Pilotwings 64 and Super Mario 64, on the shelf and, as of this writing, there are only 27 games on the market for the N64. Nintendo is promising to release an additional three games for the 1997 Christmas season.
Jack's Simple Plan