Does the MS/Sony SKU parade hurts sales?
I started thinking about this in the PS3 BC thread but decided it was off-topic enough to deserve it's own thread.
Since I don't own any PS2 games BC doesn't really matter to me. That said, if this is coming it just seems to epitomize one of the things that I think Sony (and to a slightly lesser extent MS) have been really bad for this gen, their endless flip-flopping and revisions. Around here we keep track of things like this, but for the average consumer or the parent buying a console for their child this endless parade of SKUs must be very confusing.
Prior to the Slim, Sony had released six different PS3 SKUs in North America in three years (not including special editions, bundles, or colour changes), usually with two in production at any given time. This wouldn't be so bad except that none of them had a different name, they were all identified by their hard drive sizes and, to add to the confusion, a couple of SKUs shared hard drive sizes. On top of that, to make it more confusing, not all the revisions are necessarily considered "upgrades" over the previous sets thanks to the removal of certain features (notably BC and USB ports).
Sony seems to have gotten a chance to start over with their seventh SKU, the Slim. It has a new name and a new look which makes it easy to identify, and right now their is only a single SKU (with rumours of a 250GB on the way). Hopefully they will figure it out this time.
In the past 4 years Microsoft released two SKUs, added a third, revised and renamed one (Core to Arcade), and revised and then discontinued one (the Pro). Over four years this adds up to 5 different SKUs (again, not including SEs, bundles, or colour changes). IMO Microsoft tempered the consumer confusion by releasing these consoles with unique names, but their problem has been the consumer desire for specific chipsets, which are difficult to identify.
I think this has been one of the clear advantages of the Wii, and one of the reasons it has sold so well. Since launch it has had the same single SKU, reducing consumer confusion. While the goal is obviously to offer consumers choice, most parents don't want to have to learn all this stuff before they buy a console to surprise their children.
This is the first console generation to really see this. While previous generations had revisions, they generally only sold one at a time. So what do you think, do these choices hurt or help Sony and MS?