|My wife hates it whenever I
make a significant electronics purchase; she doesnt mind the money spent as much as
the buyers anxiety I always experience after plunking down a few hundred dollars for
something I know will be obsolete within a few months. The DVD player, the stereo, the
camcorder are all sources of great anxiety to me whenever I think about them. Should I
have waited for them to go down in price? Could I have gotten a better deal if I had
looked around a little more? Did I get the right brand? Because of this tendency to second
guess myself, I try to avoid making major purchases of things new to the market. I waited
a year to see if DVD would really take hold, and it did. I had intended on breaking the
waiting restriction with the Playstation 2. I didnt think that there could be a
surer bet. At the beginning of the summer I started putting pennies away in anticipation
of October 26th. I would be the first one on my block to own it, and it would
be glorious. There was no doubt. After all, Newsweek even ran a cover story on it.
Sure, there were rumors about an X-Box and a Dolphin, but what were they in the face of
However, as the PS2 date gets closer and closer the certainty surrounding its market dominance seems to be waning. It is no longer the sure bet that Newsweek led you to believe that it was. In Japan PS2 software sales have been less than stellar. It seems that many people are using it primarily as a DVD player. And now with Nintendos bid to control the console market with their GameCube we, the consumers, are left wondering, "Do I really need a Playstation 2 on October 26th?" Im not making any predictions here. Playstation 2 could very well be the system to get, but you dont have to get it right away. In fact, I see very little reason to get it right away. The longer you wait the cheaper the system will be and the games will get better.
There are three factors to consider when buying a new console: hardware, price, and software. Theres no question that the Playstation 2 has it down in the hardware category. Nothing even comes close, yet. But there are so many rival consoles on the horizon that it wont be king of the hill for long. I, for one, would not want to release a gaming console knowing that Bill Gates is coming out with the X-Box. There is just something about a man who dominates every field that he enters (except the courthouse) that really scares me. Then theres the Indrema, the indie entry into the console rumble. With its linux based operating system it could upset the big boys like Miramax often does at the Oscars. With all of the competing platforms, I wouldnt be surprised to hear that Atari, Coleco, or Intellivision tried making a comeback in the console royal rumble that will be 2001.
Price. This is where things get a little tricky. A lot of people are justifying (to themselves) the high price of the PS2 by saying, "But its a DVD player too." But with DVD players getting cheaper and cheaper everyday (remote control included at no extra cost) there seems to be no need for an all in one system. It might save a little space in a dorm room, but so would picking up your socks.
I ended up using those pennies I had started saving to get a Dreamcast (for less than half of what the PS2 would have cost me). Sega has proven itself and there is no title on the PS2 that interests nearly as much as Shenmue or Ecco. In fact, most of the software for the PS2 has a "been there, done that feel" but with better graphics. In the end, no matter what the system can do, if it doesnt have the software, it will not fly. The N64 is clearly superior to the Playstation, but without the games ya got nada.
Last, but not least, there are the aesthetic considerations. For $300.00 youd think that there would be a level of coolness associated with the design of the PS2 that rivals the iMac, but its design is about as creative as most waffle grills get in this day and age. There will be no oohing and aahing until you turn the thing on, and even then its not guaranteed.
So, dont do it, not right away at least. Save your money. Invest. Internet stock would be a surer bet than the Playstation 2. Remember, no console has maintained market dominance over consecutive generations and there is no reason to believe that Sony will be able to break that trend. It will be tempting. The graphics will be pretty and the desire to be the first one on the block is hard to overcome, but patience in a world of immediate gratification is always rewarded with the ability to say, "I told you so!"