It may be hard to believe, but the PlayStation 3 just hit its tenth birthday. Over the course of ten long years, Sony’s first HD console brought us plenty of ups and some unfortunate downs. And, amazingly, the PS3 still lives, with Persona 5 arriving in mid-2017. Even if you’ve since shelved your PlayStation 3 for its more powerful little brother, the following moments should bring back plenty of fuzzy memories of this memorable console’s lifespan.
A Shaky Launch
Sony carried a bit of hubris during the PlayStation 3’s launch. And, really, who can blame them? By 2006, the PlayStation 2 had sold a whopping 100 million units, making them kings of the console realm. E3 2006 contained some of Sony’s more shameful moments, with Shuhei Yoshida proudly announcing its price of $599 USD. In 2016 money, that translates to over $700—a high price to pay for a video game console. And if you factor in the economic depression just around the corner, Sony’s proposition would only grow less appealing.
Sony’s launch lineup also didn’t give gamers much to write home about. And with the DualShock 3 over a year away, players had no choice but to play with the inferior SixAxis. Granted, this controller didn’t feel too different than what would replace it, but the accelerometers inside led to some pretty gimmicky gameplay experiences. Thankfully, Sony would turn things around before the decade’s close, but those first few years of the PS3 add up to a complete embarrassment.
PSN Gets Hacked
Just as the PS3 began to turn the corner, the unthinkable happened to Sony. Hackers infiltrated the PlayStation Network, compromising the credit card information of 12.3 million subscribers. This hack didn’t just anger PSN users; it also cost Sony a whopping $171 million, which certainly didn’t help the PS3’s profitability. All told, PSN went down for a little over a month, removing much of the console’s essential functionality.
In the end, Sony tried to make good with their “Welcome Back” program, which gave PSN users some free games for the sake of appeasement. This helped heal the wound, but many of us walked away feeling uneasy about how a massive multinational corporation couldn’t keep our sensitive information safe.
Here Come the Trophies
After more than ten years of achievement points, we may be immune to their Pavlovian effects. But ten years ago, they amounted to a pretty big deal, and Sony ended up looking stuck in the past without a similar rewards system. It took until the summer of 2008, but Sony eventually launched trophies with their 2.40 update.
These awards didn’t add up to a satisfying single number, but they still gave players an incentive to put their skills to the test. Plus, many developers retroactively added trophies to PlayStation 3 games that previously didn’t offer them. Thankfully, Sony realized the appeal of these digital trophies and integrated them into their next console.
SixAxis Gets the Boot
Ditching the classic DualShock for a different controller may seem like a big oversight, but Sony had their hands tied. When the PS3 launched, the company still faced legal problems with Immersion, who claimed Sony infringed on their patents. With the fate of the DualShock up in the air, Sony pushed rumble aside for the sake of a slightly different controller. Though it carried a clever name, players grew tired of gimmicky games that forced them to tilt their controllers.
Sony would eventually phase out the SixAxis after settling with immersion in 2007, meaning it eventually shipped with a DualShock 3 right in the box. Granted, the lack of rumble didn’t result in a dealbreaker for most people, but the SixAxis still made for one of many shortcomings that had consumers opting for an Xbox 360 instead.
Sony’s Slim Rebound
With the PS3 largely considered an overpriced console bloated with useless features, Sony went back to the drawing board to set things right. In September of 2009, they released the PlayStation 3 Slim. This redesigned console lost the George Foreman Grill aesthetic and the Spider-Man font, and appealed to gamers with its streamlined design and lower price. It certainly helped that the slim released close to Uncharted 2, which would soon be a huge system seller for Sony. In fact, it eventually became a pack-in title with a certain model of the Slim.
While Sony lost a lot of ground to Microsoft’s Xbox 360, the slim certainly helped them even the playing field. They couldn’t possibly trounce the competition as they did with the PS2, but their redesigned console eventually helped the PS3 become a success.
PlayStation 2 Games Come Home
While the launch PS3 models offered a few too many features, one in particular stood out as an amazing value for consumers. Like the PlayStation 2, the PS3 played the previous generation’s games right out of the box. But with Sony in desperate need to turn a profit, they eventually removed this feature entirely. That might have been a prudent move on their part, but it essentially cut the PS3’s potential library by 1,850 games.
Though the PS3 would never again have full access to the PS2’s library, Sony at least made some steps to correct their mistake. In early October of 2011, PSN began selling a selection of PlayStation 2 classics. Though you can only purchase a fraction of the PS2 games in existence, these offerings came as a welcome addition.
A Long Legacy
Sony couldn’t quite capture the audience their previous console did, but the PlayStation 3 had a healthy lifespan nonetheless. Really, a little over 80 million units sold isn’t anything to sneeze at. And despite their initial problems, Sony recovered and stayed afloat in the console industry. So, hats off to you, PlayStation 3. You definitely gave us 10 years of great memories—with the possibility of more to come.