Editorial: Hardware Redesigns

Ah, the pre-E3 rumor mill. Gotta love it. This is the time of year when the grandest leaks occur, the hokiest rumors are conceived, and we hear the words “X company does not comment on rumors or speculation” (or some verbal equivalent) at least nine thousand times per week.

Among the juicier rumors that have emerged is news of a PlayStation 3 redesign. (Kotaku.) Granted, some of those photos look a bit sketch, but like the article points out, the box looks pretty legit. And we know Sony is going to release a redesign at SOME point, given the success of the PS2 slim. 2009 does seem a bit soon, (the PS2 didn’t see its redesign for five solid years) but I certainly wouldn’t put it past Sony; a redesign may provide a sort of “alternative” to the price cut that people are screaming for. Aside from that, they’ve proven that they’re more than willing to clog retail shelves with an absurd number of different SKUs.

Looks legit...
Looks legit...

Frankly I wouldn’t mind a PS3 redesign, because… that thing’s huge. I’d trade in my PS3 fat for one of those in a heartbeat. (Even though I’m sure this slim model wouldn’t feature backwards-compatibility.) I’m always interested in freeing up shelf space, not to mention reducing the risk of fire hazard.

While a slim PS3 is a mere rumor at this point, we’ve seen plenty of hardware redesigns over the years… some of them more well-received than others. Largely it’s been contained to the area of handheld systems. The GameBoy Advance saw three different iterations: the original wide version, the (fantastic) “SP” clamshell revision, and then the (unbelievably pointless, stupid, and gimmicky) “Micro” version. Needless to say, they should have quit when they were ahead in THAT situation.

For better or worse, that tradition has been kept alive throughout the lifecycle of the DS. We’re now on our third incarnation of Nintendo’s massively popular dual-screened handheld, with the latest version seeming more like a whole new handheld than a mere “redesign.” Moving beyond Nintendo, Sony has done the exact same thing with the PSP, which was their initial step into the handheld arena. We’re on our third PSP, with rumors of a fourth rumbling in the background.

These redesigns can be nice to have, I won’t deny that. The DS Lite was a huge improvement over the original DS. The second PSP was a great improvement over the original, as well. Slim PS2s are sexy. But at the same time, one has to wonder: wouldn’t we all be just as contented, and slightly wealthier, if these improved models just… never came to be? Of course we want and appreciate them when we SEE them, but what if the practice never came to be in the first place?

Of course, this same sentiment could be expressed concerning several facets of the industry at large. *coughDLCcough*

What say you, readers? Are hardware redesigns a necessary evil, or should such practices be done away with?


  1. I see no problem with the hardware redesigns as long as the old format continues to be supported. Take the DS for example. I still have a original DS Fat, and it still works fine. Now, if something compelling came out for the DSiWare (or however the capitalization is), then that will be a different story (even so, though, I have had that system for a good 4.5 years now, maybe it is time for an upgrade). The PSP redesigns constantly tempt me, but so far I see no compelling reason to get a new PSP, since my old one works fine. I imagine the same will apply to the PS3. Unless there is some new feature, I probably will hold onto my current model. If, however, I start looking into getting a second PS3 for me room, it would be nice to have a more compact, space-saving option. As long as companies continue to support old SKUs for the duration of the life of the system, I whole-heartedly support them coming out with as many new SKUs as they like so anybody who IS in the market has tons of options.

  2. Except that the case for that proposed redesign is cheap as shit. Say what you will about Sony, the PS2 didn’t exactly look like it’d fall apart from a strong wind.

  3. Lol paper mache caseing? Perhaps they’ve decided the only way to compete with M$ is crippling hardware defects.

  4. @Lusipurr – So fucking true. *Blindfolds self, swings at PS3*

    Seriously though, it’s shit like this that makes me cynical whenever I hear rumors.