Kottke spends some time thinking about the differences in the launches of the PlayStation 3 and the Wii and concludes that the violence and hysteria that surrounded the PS3 launch was due to the fundamental philosophical differences between the two systems – PlayStation is about aggression and competition, Nintendo is about fun and hugging.
Well, I’m sure that was a part of the reason, but I think there was a much simpler reason: greed.
This week’s 1up show has interviews with people in the PlayStation queue outside San Francisco’s Metreon. From the sample that they interviewed (that made it onto the show), the majority of people queuing up either didn’t know or didn’t care about the PlayStation 3. What they cared about was the profit they would make by selling this on eBay – some PlayStations have sold for $20,000, a remarkable 2300% profit. One gent informed the crowd how he “would rather fight, go to jail, than let someone cut in front of [him]”. Asked if he was buying the PlayStation to, y’know, play it? “Man, people are buying this to put it on eBay and cash out!”. And this guy wasn’t just buying one. He had people in lines all over, and he was going to sell them all. Except for the one he was “going to give to a poor family” (‘poor family’ with a hi-def TV?).
And the attach rates mostly support this. Of the 81,639 consoles sold in Japan, only 66,684 were sold with games. Sure, the PS3 has online functionality and you can download demos, but come on – you’ve just dropped seven hundred lids on this new, awesome piece of games hardware, you’re not going to get something that really shows it off?
But it’s not all so cynical. My favourite interviewee in the 1up show explained how he was an Xbox man and was loving Gears of War, but his girlfriend wouldn’t let him buy a decent Hi-Def TV to play it on. His solution was to queue up for a few hours, buy a PlayStation 3, sell it on eBay and buy himself a Hi-Def TV with the profits. I feel your pain, buddy.
I doubt this kind of mercenary greed would work in Ireland. The supply will be just as short here, but will the scalpers be making as much of a profit? I doubt it. It hardly seems worth it, unless you just get a kick out of depriving people of something they want and watching their misery. And if that’s your kind of thing, here’s a video of someone smashing a brand-new PS3 in front of queuing fans. Enjoy!