I'm sure a few weeks ago, nobody even anticipated Sony winning the console war this holiday season. Since the Xbox 360's price-cut last August, it has managed to consistently outsell the PlayStation 3 in the European and North American markets, however small the margin may be.
THE PS3 SLIM
The recent (and mounting) rumors however, suggest that a PlayStation 3 Slim is in the works, of which I'm sure many of you have already seen the leaked video. Releasing this alone would allow Sony to increase their PS3 sales dramatically.
The widely believed price-cut for the PS3 also seems to be coming. Sony's Executive Vice President Nobuyuki Oneda has stated that the cost of manufacturing the PlayStation 3 has been reduced by 70%. If you combine this statement with the PS3 Slim, the price-cut seems even more likely. The PS3 Slim will have a drastically reduced manufacturing cost because the decrease in size will mean less plastic and components are required.
Everything points to a price-cut happening, and currently the PS3 costs double the price of a standard Xbox 360, yet continues to be outsold by the Xbox 360 by a very small margin. Once the price-cut hits, expect it to have a massive effect, especially in these tough economic times.
Sony has a stellar line-up this year...worldwide. With Final Fantasy XIII releasing in Japan this year (as well as other highly anticipated RPG titles such as The Last Rebellion, End of Eternity and Trinity Universe) Sony will win Japan's holiday season. This outcome is almost 100% guaranteed, as long as Final Fantasy XIII makes it's 2009 release date, and even if it doesn't, it is looking very likely.
Europe is highly-regarded as a racing game nation, and rumors continue to come in that Gran Turismo 5 will be releasing in 2009. The most recent of which comes directly from GTPlanet, a highly credible source for everything Gran Turismo. Gran Turismo is probably the only Sony IP that can be compared to Microsoft's Halo. GT has sold over 50 million units over the series of games, each game consistently sells around 9 million units, and the majority of sales are in Europe.
If you combine this with the other fantastic PS3 exclusives coming this year, such as Uncharted 2, Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, and many many more, it looks like Sony is set to win this holiday season, especially in Europe and Japan. It also doesn't help Microsoft that their most anticipated Xbox 360 exclusive, Splinter Cell: Conviction, has been delayed to 2010.
Of course there's no mention of the Wii in this equation, whether or not the PS3 Slim, price-cut, or games affect the Wii's momentum is unknown. My guess is it's unlikely that any of these factors will affect the Wii, simply because the audience is completely different. This audience isn't looking to be hardcore gamers, they just want to buy a Wii.
If all the rumors are true however, Sony is definitely in for their best holiday season since the launch of the PS3. Gamescom should be very interesting...