It is a sad day for the PlayStation 3. The system’s lifespan has come to an end. Sony has announced it is discontinuing the console in Japan. Which means its worldwide death is imminent. Now that it is coming to a close, it’s time to get all nostalgic. Just how good and important was this system? After all it wasn’t as “successful” as its other seventh generation contemporaries, the Xbox 360 and Wii. But, maybe we shouldn’t look at financial success and install rates as the only measure of success.
Let’s start by looking at its lifespan. Sony has a thing about 10 year cycles for its systems. While the PlayStation 3 may not have been the easiest system to develop for or been the most popular, it did hit that milestone. It was available in Japan, North America, and Europe for 10 years. To compare, the original model of the Wii was discontinued worldwide in 2011, only five years after its launch. It stuck around for those full 10 years, just like the Xbox 360. That kind of staying power is always a good thing.
We also have to consider the precedents it set. The PlayStation 3 was Sony’s first console with all kinds of online goodness. It offered us our first Sony online store. We had opportunities to play all kinds of games online with friends for free. While the online services weren’t always the best or most steady, it did give us an idea of what to expect from a more connected experience. We caught a glimpse of the digital future with this system.
Speaking of digital, it is the PlayStation 3 that ushered in the era of PlayStation Plus. Subscriptions weren’t anything new at the time. Microsoft had Xbox Live Gold. But Sony’s PlayStation Plus wasn’t initially for online play. It was for giving something back to players in exchange for a small fee. It gave us access to an instant game library and great discounts. This was a concept Microsoft later mimicked, offering Games with Gold and Deals with Gold. Even Nintendo will do this with the Switch’s online service, giving people a Virtual Console game each month. Setting a trend is always a sign of success.
Finally, we have the games. Think of all the incredible series that made their debut on the PlayStation 3. It is because of the PlayStation 3 that we have The Last of Us, LittleBigPlanet, Infamous, and Uncharted. There are even plenty of third-party series that made their debut here. Demon’s Souls kicked off the Souls series. Valkyria Chronicles and Ni no Kuni first appeared here. This was a console that helped build foundations. Sony strengthened its indie ties with the PlayStation 3. It also was the system for JRPGs and quirky Japanese games, which is a rather important thing.
The PlayStation 3 wasn’t the winner last console generation. At least, not when you bring up facts and numbers. But, we can’t call it the loser either. It may not have been the best, but it did some really great things. It left behind an admirable legacy and did some new things. It was the system that brought us new series. It definitely did well, and we should always remember it fondly.