Since becoming a PlayStation 3-only owner, after my Xbox 360 tanked on me last month, it's become apparent how much that at least some PS3 versions of multiplatform games are sub-standard. Frame rates falter, some visual effects don't look quite right, and a smattering of other issues put these games a notch below their Xbox 360 counterparts. There are notorious examples of PS3 sub-standard offerings, such as the ill-fated version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. There's growing chatter that Call of Duty: Black Ops II has notable issues with crashing and with online connectivity.
All of these things leave me to question whether buying into whatever follow-up console that Sony decides to offer when the next generation arrives. As a consumer, Sony has managed to damage my trust and confidence several times over the course of this console generation. The Trophy system never compared to what Microsoft initiated with its Achievement system, and felt more forced than useful. Forced installs of on-disc software continue to force me to decide what to delete in order to make room for new things. Monthly (or more) firmware updates and surprise patches mean that there's often a waiting minigame to be played before getting to enjoy the real game you want to play. The PSN hack of 2011 and its associated outage still cast a specter over the online experience. On top of all that, many multiplatform offerings are clearly "second class" versions of games that run better on the Xbox 360.
I had chosen to dump the PS3 back in February of 2009, when I got my Xbox 360. I didn't feel that there were enough reasons to own both consoles. Aside from Metal Gear Solid 4, the exclusive offerings weren't strong enough for me and I was more interested in what the 360 had to offer. There were more arcade games, for example, on the 360. I liked the idea of Gamerscore and being able to track Achievements for all games, rather than the select few that supported Trophies for the PS3 at the time. Games like BioShock and Dead Space ran better on the 360, too.
But in 2010, I got a new PS3 as a birthday gift from family. There was newfound momentum with exclusives like God of War III and improving versions of MLB: The Show. After a year away from the PS3, I was happy to give it another chance and see how Sony would fare given that sales had bounced back somewhat after a mid-year price cut in 2009. It was nice that I got my previously-bought digital games back, too. I used the PS3 primarily as a console for exclusives, leaving multiplatform games to the Xbox 360. That worked for awhile, until my 360 began failing early this year. I began getting more multiplatform games for the PS3, and I tried to get used to the difference in quality.
I haven't been able to do it.
There are exceptions to the lower quality rule, thankfully. Zen Pinball 2 is on par with (or even slightly better than) Pinball FX2 on the Xbox 360. Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage and Dynasty Warriors 7 both run better on the PS3 than the Xbox 360. Many downloadable titles run pretty much the same on both platforms. Unfortunately, retail releases—notably the AAA ones—suffer in performance and quality, and the excuses aren't acceptable to me.
Obviously it's too late to expect changes now, but if you ask me which of the next-generation consoles that I would buy, it would have to be whatever Microsoft offers. That's kind of a shame, considering how much of a supporter and fan that I was of PlayStation platforms for 10 years. Both the original PlayStation and the PlayStation 2 are great platforms. I've amassed hundreds of games for both as part of my current collection. The PlayStation 3, on the other hand, has been more disappointment than it has been great. I've been underwhelmed by it, and that leads to my consumer vote of no confidence when Sony finally announces that its new platform is ready.
I'm sure that others will disagree with this sentiment, considering it too harsh or making judgments before we really know what Sony will offer. Some will offer the same excuses that I've heard for years, about how the PlayStation 3 is harder to program for or that developers aren't putting enough of an effort in to make the multiplatform versions comparable. I'm not speaking for an entire community. I'm speaking for myself, as one person. Sony has lost me, as a valued customer, unless it can prove unequivocally that the next generation will be different… because they have underperformed in all phases during this generation to the point that the PlayStation 3 is a "second class" platform that could never realistically compete with either the Wii or the Xbox 360.
See Peter's response to reader comments in a follow-up article called Re: It only does disappointment.