PlayStation 3 was way overpriced and still lost money on each unit, former Sony exec says

Jack Tretton knew it was a strong console, but it was fighting an uphill battle at launch.

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The PlayStation 3 was a technical marvel when it came out in November 2006, but despite its success, it caused numerous headaches for former Sony Computer Entertainment America CEO Jack Tretton.

Tretton, speaking in a video interview with IGN, said the console faced an uphill battle because the Xbox 360 had been out for a year, and the $600 price point for the new console mad it much more expensive than its Microsoft counterpart. His promotion only a few months before the console's launch was like "being made the captain of the Titanic just before it hit the iceberg," 

The company knew it had a good product, but the timing was bad.

"It was quite possibly the most difficult launch scenario you could ever imagine, knowing that Xbox 360 was already out, that you were much more expensive than you wanted to be, that you had much less inventory than you wanted to have at launch, and that it was going to be a learning curve in terms of software development and manufacturing efficiency," he said. "A lot of real challenges there at that launch."

tretton agreed that Sony might have tried a different angle, but the company wanted to go big with it's next iteration. However, all that new technology made the cost to produce the unit so high that even at $600, Sony was still losing money on each unit sold.

"The easy thing to do [after the success of PS2], would have been to have done a PlayStation 2.5; something that's enhanced but kind of staying the course," he added. "PS3 was really stepping out of the box. I think ultimately it delivered a lot of great technology that's ultimately appreciated today. But at the time, because of the Cell processor and all the proprietary technology, it was difficult to develop for, it was difficult to manufacture; it was extremely expensive to manufacture. So at the price it came out at, everybody knew that wasn't a consumer-friendly price."

Tretton, who left Sony in 2014 after 19 years, said his time overseeing the PS3 was one of the most stressful he's ever faced. "That period of PS2 to PS3 was the most intense period of my career, at least at Sony," he said. "Tremendous success with PS2; I think we had 60-plus, 70-plus percent market share on a worldwide basis. Just the most successful platform in history--and how do you follow that up?"

The whole IGN interview is about 45 minutes long and well worth a listen if you want more of a background on the PS3 era at Sony.

Contributing Editor

From The Chatty

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      September 28, 2016 10:01 AM

      No wonder they wanted to drop BC as fast as possible.

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      September 28, 2016 10:07 AM

      CONSOLE MAD CONSOLE MAD

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      September 28, 2016 10:15 AM

      Sad. Makes perfect sense but still sad- I guess the ps3 was the last time console hardware was really different between consoles and pc and each other. There aren't really going to be articles in the future that talk about the weird quirks of the current batch of consoles because there aren't any real quirks...

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        September 28, 2016 1:32 PM

        Nintendo's gonna keep making weird hardware, I have no doubt about that. People will then complain that they aren't making another low-power PC like everyone else.

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      September 28, 2016 10:20 AM

      god remember installing your games for like 40 fucking minutes during the first couple years of the ps3? and then patching which would also take 30+ minutes??

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        September 28, 2016 12:34 PM

        Watching Old Snake smoke a cigarette for 30 minutes was sweet though.

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          September 28, 2016 12:51 PM

          Giant Bomb's parody was great. I can't believe Drew made it the entire duration with a straight face.

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      September 28, 2016 1:22 PM

      The early days of the PS3 were brutal. Weak lineup, inferior cross platform ports, PSN at the time was garbage, and even the backwards compatibility wasnt all that from the start. Took a while for everything to gel together and while I miss some of the features that they removed over time, in the end they managed to make what just might be my favorite console ever (tough competition from the PS2).

      Shame they're not adding useful features to the PSN side for tracking owned digital content and such. They got that part right with the PS4 but fucked up the system interface :(

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      September 28, 2016 1:37 PM

      I enjoyed the MGS4 box very much, and even enjoyed watching Blu-Rays till the drive died.

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        September 28, 2016 1:54 PM

        My launch PS3 lasted too long, so by the time it died I had to replace it with a super slim. I loved how quiet it was so much that I wound I buying another just for the bedroom as a Blu-ray+Netflix player. Then it became my go to machine for when I wanted to play something without ever getting out of bed.

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      September 28, 2016 3:47 PM

      IGN's interview was really good