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Incompetent or…incompetent?

Jack Tretton: “What! Me Worry?”

“Never ascribe to malice that which can adequately be explained by incompetence”:

September ’09:

President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, Jack Tretton, has fears of shortages of PS3’s this holiday season:

“If things continue at this pace, it is conceivable that there will be product shortages.”

March ’10:

Sony Computer Entertainment America is suffering from PS3 shortages at a key moment for the company.

While God Of War III launched in North America today, the LA Times reports that a number of Best Buy, GameStop and Target stores in West Hollywood are out of PS3 consoles. Some haven’t had any stock for a couple of weeks, while Wal-Mart online and Amazon.com were also sold out.

“We ultimately don’t make investments on a product-by-product or month-by-month basis, but rather we invest in our platform,” he added. “This game will pay off for us with the people who own a PlayStation 3 and the ones who will buy one in the future.”

So just so we’re clear: Sony saw a shortage looming last decade and here we are, on the day of the single biggest game launched on PS3 yet, and there are still shortages…six months later.

Now look: I’m no expert on how to move product and I don’t have a shiny MBA, but…neither does anyone working at Sony1.

And, to top it off, games like God of War III (like major Hollywood blockbusters) live and die by their first few weeks to a month on sale, then the hype machine runs off to the next sex object.

So, if they don’t remedy this situation rapidly, it’ll make Tretton’s assertion that “this game will pay off for us with…the ones who will buy one in the future” ring especially hollow since a lot less people are going to bother buying a PS3, period, because they might be seduced by Sam Fischer (it’s not what you think!) or some other, fresher-faced, tart, that isn’t console-exclusive (thus making for a nice menage a tois for Microsoft) in the interim.

1 For those that don’t know, God of War III is known as a “system-seller”. That basically means that the game, though retailing for $60, is actually good enough to justify the price of the console it runs on, i.e. God of War III is a game that’s actually worth laying out $360 to a lot of people–people that can’t buy one.

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