Sony's PlayStation 3 has quietly begun its slip into retirement. According to BGR, production of the 10-year-old console will soon cease in Japan.
The end of Japanese production "is always the first and most impactful nail in any PlayStation's coffin," the report stated.
The Independent reports that Sony has not officially or publically announced the retirement of the PlayStation 3. Conclusions are being drawn from a statement on Japan's official PlayStation website. The product page for PlayStation 3 lists the 500GB version as being the only one still in production in Japan and that "shipments are scheduled to end soon."
Gematsu also points to "a tweet from a game shop in Kurume, Fukuoka" that states that it has been notified that it will receive no more shipments of PlayStation 3's after this month.Historically, PlayStations have had around a 10-year production lifecycle. Last November marked the PlayStation 3's 10th anniversary, so the halting of production is not surprising. The console was first released in November 2006 and according to BGR, struggled in sales due to a high price tag.Sony announced the PlayStation 3 at E3 2006 stating that it would have two versions on release, "a 20GB model for $499 and a 60GB version for $599."
Both versions were priced $200 higher than the two Xbox 360 counterparts. Thanks to several exclusive titles, and a couple of redesigns that brought with them price cut, Sony was able to play catch up with Microsoft.
Once Sony officially retires the PlayStation 3, the impact to current owners will begin to take effect. As a product is withdrawn, support is either ended outright or is tapered off gradually. Eventually, PS3 owners will stop receiving firmware and operating system updates. The end of support will not affect gameplay on the consoles as a whole, but it will have an effect on online services such as multiplayer games and digital downloads, said the Independent.
Aside from the PlayStation 3 just being at the end of its lifecycle, there is decreased demand due to both PlayStation 4 production and game migration.
The PS4 has been out for two years now, and game volume and quality is starting to see its first real increases. Newer and better games have always lead the way for next-generation hardware, but so has backward compatibility, which the PS4 lacked upon release.
This lack of backward compatibility, which PlayStations had always launched with, maintained the demand for the PlayStation 3 and the great titles that came out for it. The Mass Effect series, the Uncarted series, Skyrim, and The Last of Us were all PS3 exclusives and were all blockbusters that kept demand for the console alive even after the PlayStation 4 was released. Sony's solution to backward compatibility was game migration, in the form of remasters, and the PlayStation Now subscription service.Popular hits are making their way to the PS4. The first big move was The Last of Us, which was remastered and re-released on the PlayStation 4 in July 2014 just months after the next-gen console hit shelves. The Uncharted series saw its fourth installment as a PS4 exclusive, but along with its arrival Sony bundled the original trilogy and re-released it for PS4 users. Skyrim has also been remastered for the PlayStation 4. While the Mass Effect trilogy is still exclusive to the PS3, Mass Effect: Andromeda is scheduled to release tonight at 9 p.m. PDT. If it does well enough the original trilogy might get bundled and ported to the PlayStation 4 in a similar fashion as Uncharted.
Add to all of this the new PlayStation Now service that allows PS4 (and PC) owners to stream PS3 games, and it seems that Sony's strategy this time around appears to be an effort to migrate PlayStation 3 owners or potential purchasers to its latest and greatest. This strategy makes sense considering the releases of the PS Slim and Pro versions of its console last fall.
The company has also announced that it will be adding PlayStation 4 titles to its Now subscription service later this year. This effort appears to be targeting PC owners. According to The Verge, PS Now is $19.99 per month, and Sony has stated that the subscription price will not be increasing despite the additional PS4 content that is coming. In addition to the PlayStation 4 and PC, the service was previously offered on the PS3, Vita, and PlayStation TV as well, but Sony has decided to end these offerings in order to serve PS4 and PC subscribers better.
While Sony's retirement of the PlayStation 3 will come as sad news for some, the future will see a stronger focus on next-gen titles which has proven in the past to be a very good thing. Additionally, with the PlayStation Now Service ramping up its offerings, PS3 gaming is going to be alive and well for quite some time.
[Featured Image by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images]