Three Years of the PlayStation 3


Posted November 17, 2009 - By Sterling McGarvey

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High-Quality PlayStation 3 Slim Pictures Released

November isn’t just a time for big games to launch. It’s traditionally a time when game consoles make their big splash in the States. With the exception of the PlayStation 2 and the PSP, every major game console of this decade has launched in November in the US. Today’s the three year anniversary of the PlayStation 3’s American launch. Over the next few days, many of us will be taking a look at each of the major consoles, their history up to now, and the prognosis for 2010. Just for the hell of it, I pulled up a birthday horoscope for today:

“Although you have a talent for communicating, you are not an open book. Your personality is vibrant, and others notice you wherever you go. As emotional as you are, you prefer to present the strong side of your personality to others. You may readily discuss your personal past, but you are not one to whine about your life. You do have an interesting life story, no doubt about it, as you tend to attract change and even crisis into your life with your controlled yet powerful emotions. Your life is far from static, likely because your personality is very dynamic.”

Yep, sounds like a PS3 to me. Here’s the specs:

Launch Date: November 17, 2006 (US)
Launch Price: $599 (60 GB), $499 (20 GB)

Significant Price Drops and Hardware Iterations:

  • 80 GB PS3 (introduced 2007) eliminated the Emotion Engine, which allowed for hardware emulation of PlayStation and PlayStation 2 games. It dropped the price to $499.
  • 40 GB PS3 (introduced late 2007) eliminated PlayStation 2 backwards compatibility, as well as two USB ports and flash memory readers, yet it existed alongside the 80 GB hardware iteration for nearly a year. It also dropped the retail cost down to $399.
  • 120 GB PS3 Slim (introduced in August 2009) reduced the size and power consumption of the console. In addition, it brought the price down to $299.

Games of Note

Resistance: Fall of Man

Year One: 2006-2007

Metal Gear Solid 4

Year Two: 2007-2008

Uncharted 2

Year Three: 2008-2009


Features That Made It Better

When you look at a chronological list of updates, it’s amazing to think that the console has seen so much tinkering since 2006, nearly all of it for the better. Here’s a look at the most notable firmware updates that have really improved the PS3 experience:

PS3 System Update

Update 1.50 fixed the horrific jaggies that kept many an early adopter from swiftly hocking their PS2s and ruined many hours of Final Fantasy XII and Okami during the 2006 holiday season.

Update 1.80 opened up the feature floodgates. Among its features, update 1.80:

  • Provided HD upscaling for PS2 and PlayStation games, which immediately caused a surge of used PS2s at GameStop (not actually proven)
  • Let you transfer PS2 save files freely between your console and memory card, which meant that you could transport your PS2 saves to a memory card to bring to your friends’ houses to play on their inferior hardware.
  • Allowed Blu-ray playback at 720p (previously, you could only watch HD movies in 1080i or 1080p)
  • Allowed upscaling of DVD movies to resolutions up to 1080p
  • Allowed DLNA compatibility (what’s up, TVersity and PlayOn!)
  • Introduced Remote Play over the Internet (I used this feature during Games Convention 2008 to play Bionic Commando: Rearmed on my PSP, which was in San Francisco. But it was kind of laggy).
  • It was at this point that the PS3 started to become serious business.

Update 2.00 introduced rumble in time for the Dual Shock 3’s 2007 bow and nullified Kaz Hirai’s spin of eighteen months prior.

Update 2.30 revamped the PlayStation Store and eased navigation through its menus, which addressed the surge of content on the platform.

Update 2.40 introduced in-game XMB, which killed many PSN users’ ability to conveniently ignore friend messages while playing games. It doubled the PSN friends list from 50 to 100. Also, it introduced Trophies, which allowed fanboys to brag about their time spent playing games instead of meeting girls, and ravaged my Gamerscore irreparably. I'm at least 8000 behind where I would’ve been had I played on 360.
Update 2.41 fixed the fatal error in Update 2.40 that bricked select consoles. Ouch.

Update 3.00 provided a big aesthetic update to the interface and got rid of the blingy noise when you fire up a game.

Things We’ll Try to Forget

Ken Kutaragi

  • Ken Kutaragi’s audacious claims prior to PS3’s launch. When you think about it, it wasn’t that long between launch and his resignation.
  • An awkward launch that did early adopters few favors.
  • Not using the Blu-ray player much for the first seven months.
  • “Rumble is so last-gen.”
  • Loose and fast DLC regulation takes coin out of developers’ pockets far too easily.


Things Console Warriors Might Forget (But Shouldn’t)

  • Despite the awkward launch and a year of PR faux pas, the end of the PS3’s first year brought great games like Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Warhawk (arguably the game that has lived up to SOCOM’s community-focused multiplayer more than any other first-party game), and Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction. There were indisputably games to play, if you had the coin for the machine. And the legacy of those games is still being felt to this day. Well, except for the rumored Starhawk. (We’re tapping a foot impatiently.)
  • Although multi-console owners bitched about having to update their PS3 “every time they turned it on” throughout 2007 and 2008, Sony’s frequent updates gave owners new content more often, rather than hitting users with twice-yearly updates.
  • In spite of the higher quantity of games on Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network has taken a more boutique approach to downloadable games. Granted, there’s no shortage of crap on either platform, but exclusive titles like Flower and the PixelJunk brand really stand out among a sea of downloadable games.


  • Unless you’re a sulky teenager whose game purchases are dictated by your parent’s wallet, the cheaper PS3 Slim (which comes in at half the launch price) has enabled more gamers to become multi-console owners, and roughly at the same time in the console’s lifecycle that many gamers adopted a second console in the last generation. GTA: San Andreas and Halo 2 pushed many a gamer to bring a second console home five years ago. If you’re a 360 owner, this may very well be the year to take the plunge.

Prognosis for Year Four: 2009-2010

Positive. The biggest deterrent for most consumers hasn’t been a lack of games. It hasn’t been solely based on Xbox Live. It’s the price. At this point, the PS3 costs as much as a launch-era PS2. That’s a hell of a lot more reasonable than the $600 price point it launched at.

Although both Microsoft and Sony have made some big strides in providing on-demand video content through their platforms, G4 readers are vocal in their love for physical media. And they might not be a vocal minority. As more consumers move over to HD and Blu-ray movies slowly drop in price, the PS3 could be poised to repeat the “DVD player plus more” strategy that made the PS2 such a success.

God of War III

And then there’s the games. Between Gran Turismo 5 and God of War III, Sony has two huge franchises to anchor for the first half of 2010. The jury’s still out on Heavy Rain, but if Sony manages to hit the sweet spot with marketing, it could crossover to an audience that doesn’t traditionally play adventure games. Don’t be stunned if Insomniac makes any big announcements regarding the Resistance franchise prior to March’s Game Developers Conference.

At this point, the PS3 has overcome most of its growing pains to deliver a great entertainment experience.

Three Years of the PlayStation 3


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