Sony to Unveil Wii U Killer at E3 2012?
Sony has said that it won't unveil PlayStation 4 at E3. But that doesn't mean it isn't ready to compete against Nintendo's next console, Wii U.
In fact, the company has technically already built a Wii U competitor in the form of a home console, PlayStation 3, and a portable gaming device, PS Vita. Thus far, however, Sony (NYSE: SNE) has yet to reveal the full potential for how the two machines will interact. Some believe that it will be a straight Wii U clone, with simple mini-games and other TV-to-handheld interactions that are comparable to what Nintendo (NTDOY) is developing.
Others think that Sony's PS3/PS Vita combo will be a costly alternative that won't live up to the content Nintendo is producing, which is being built specifically for this unique style of play. It wouldn't be out of character for Sony to move in this direction -- just look at what happened with its Wii motion controller knock-off, PS Move. Poor game quality, poor sales, and a hefty price tag ($100 at launch for a package that included the controller, the required camera, and one game) kept PS Move from becoming anything more than another Sony disappointment.
But times have changed. After numerous stumbles (PlayStation 3 was too expensive at launch; PSPGo flopped; the company's 3D TV for gamers also flopped; etc.), Sony can no longer afford to mess around. The company must come out swinging if it wants to maintain its position in the game industry, especially if it has any hope of returning to first place.
And with that mission, a Wii U killer is upon us.
The Simple Combo
Right now, you can buy a brand-new PS3 (with a 160GB hard drive) for $249.99. GameStop.com (NYSE: GME) currently offers a bundle for $299.99 that includes a 320GB hard drive and a copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
PS Vita retails for roughly the same price -- $249.99 for the base model, or $299 to $349 for various bundles.
Consumers who own neither machine would have to spend a minimum of $500 to get both devices. That's a bit more expensive than the $350 price tag that the Wii U is rumored to carry. But Sony could argue that consumers are getting more bang for their buck. Unlike the touch screen controller that comes with Wii U, PS Vita is a full-fledged gaming system. Thus, for an extra $150, consumers get two separate gaming devices.
But the company needs a hook -- several of them, actually. Sony can't simply announce that it can compete with Wii U; it must show consumers how the PlayStation machines are capable of providing a superior experience.
It All Starts With Games
The word on the street is that Sony will show 20 PS3 and PS Vita games at E3. At least some of them will be brand-new games that the world has never seen before. And of those new games, I'm willing to bet that four or five of them will be dedicated to PS3 and PS Vita connectivity.
Now when I say "connectivity," I am referring to more than cross platform play. Rather, I envision a future LittleBigPlanet for PlayStation 3 with gameplay that is completely different for those who use the PS Vita as a controller (versus those who use a standard PS3 controller).
Remember the golf tech demo Nintendo showed at E3 last year? The player sat her Wii U touch screen controller (which displayed an image of a golf ball) on the floor. She then stood over the screen and swung her Wii remote like a golf club, simulating the actions of a real golfer. It was a novelty, to be sure. But it was also very unique.
If Sony is serious about competing against Wii U, expect the PlayStation maker to take this concept much further -- and with a greater variety of sports.
Beyond that, I expect at least one original concept from Sony that uses both the PS3 and PS Vita in a creative way. It will be a game that greatly differs from the norm, and steps far outside Sony's comfort zone of familiar action games (God of War, various first-person shooters, etc.).
Buy More, Save More
There's no denying the fact that the $500 and $600 MSRPs were too high for the average PlayStation consumer. Sony has essentially (though begrudgingly) admitted this. If the company could go back in time, it would likely charge less for PlayStation 3 -- and probably sell millions more units as a result.
The company might not be able to go back, but it can change the future. While it may be justifiable -- even reasonable -- to expect consumers to spend $500 to buy a PS3 and PS Vita, Sony should offer a bundle at $400.
Remember that while console manufacturers love to whine about how much money they lose on the sale of hardware (initially, at least), they rarely talk about the billions of dollars in profit that they stand to make from the sale of games. They also don't talk about the fact that they can only sell games to people who buy their devices. Thus, PS Vita won't have too many platinum-selling games if hardware sales don't pick up.
By offering consumers a bundle at a fair price, they'll be more likely to choose the PlayStation brand -- especially if it offers better game content.
Will This be Sony's Year?
For the last five years, you can find bloggers and Sony loyalists who say, "This will be the year of PlayStation!" Thus far, that hasn't been the case.
With billions in lost revenue, tons of layoffs, and a plethora of other problems within the organization, Sony can no longer afford to be a competitor at E3. This year, Sony must be the leader. And if there's any year that Sony will pull that off, this is it.
Follow me @LouisBedigianBZ
(c) 2013 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.