updated 09:25 pm EST, Wed November 16, 2011
PS3 hits 5th anniversary Nov 17 in better spot
Sony on Thursday will mark the fifth anniversary of the PlayStation 3. The system was launched on November 17, 2006, within days of the Nintendo Wii. As of the end of this September, Sony had shipped 55.5 million of the console and will likely have passed 56 million by the anniversary.
The system had a rocky start and marked the end to Sony's dominance of console gaming from 1995 onwards. Sony's decision to build in a Blu-ray drive, then hundreds of dollars, helped it win a disc format war but also pushed the price up. At $499 minimum and with a $599 higher-end model, the system was both more expensive than the Wii and Xbox 360 and yet was still sold at a loss.
Sony eventually managed to rescue the system, although to this day it remains third place among TV consoles. The PlayStation group didn't come back to profits until summer 2008 and didn't become profitable until around August 2009, when a much smaller, more efficient chipset cut the price of making a PS3 almost in half, from $400 to $240. Sales took off once the PS3 was competitive in price with the Xbox 360.
The console's history has also been punctuated by major incidents. Its attempt to hide the existence of jailbreaks led to a compromised lawsuit. Ill will from its decision to abandon support for alternative operating systems on the PS3 led to a PSN hack that compromised 77 million users and wasn't resolved until three weeks later, very nearly costing it the users it had fought hard to get back.
The system has still managed to get a loyal audience and has some of the most important game lines under its belt, such as Killzone, Resistance, and Uncharted. Blu-ray has in hindsight been helpful for games as well as movies; PS3 games now usually have the best textures and movies because of the 25GB-plus disc storage where Microsoft has to contend with a quarter or less.
Sony usually keeps PlayStations in the market for 10 years and wants to get to 150 million total systems by the ninth year. Talk has only just started in earnest of work on a PS4 and suggest that the console could be its most current system through at least most of 2012.