Sony loses a billion goddamn dollars on PS3

Buy twenty Faberge eggs and flush them down a solid gold toilet. Film "Waterworld" five times. Buy everyone in Ireland a twenty pints of Guinness. Do any of these things and you'll still be a more successful console developer than the team behind the Playstation 3, which has now officially lost Sony over a billion dollars. I've never been partisan in the great "Retarded Internet Fanboy Console Showdown", but when somebody mislays the entire Gross National Income of Belize you just have to say something.

As reported by Businessweek, PS3 losses have doubled since last year with the total pushing across the ten-digit mark. I'm sorry, allow me to state that properly, the "Holy God you could pay the entire population of South Korea twenty American dollars each ten-digit mark". To the shock and horror of precisely nobody outside Sony it seems that the "market a thousand dollar console and sell it for less than it costs to make" strategy is failing quite spectacularly. Selling below cost is a tactic that has worked well for Nintendo in the past, but when you tip the half-a-grand mark people don't see the three hundred dollars you're saving them, they see the six hundred you're asking them to pay.

With total PS3 sales at 5.6 million, Sony could have bought every single customer a brand new Playstation 2 and a couple of games, throwing in a fifty dollar bribe to "tell everyone it's a PS3 and that it's really good". Many users seem to have the same idea, with the PS2 selling 3.2 million in the last quarter alone (that's more than half the number of PS3s sold, ever). Side-by-side they look like a Mercedes and a hovercraft: sure, the hovercraft is more exciting and futuristic, but it's way more expensive, less useful and nobody actually wants one.

The power of the vaunted cell processor is not in question. In fact a team of astrophysicists at the University of Massachusetts are using a network of eight PS3s as a supercomputer, solving the gravity wave solutions of black holes consuming stellar bodies. But when you're getting more praise from physics professors for the flexibility of your computing architecture than from kids who like to blow stuff up, there's a good chance you've missed your target market. (Unless you give us a game which lets you slam stars into black holes, because that honestly sounds pretty awesome).

Top Ten Team Fortress Stupidities

I can now claim that all the time Team Fortress 2 has eaten right out of my life was actually research, as my article Top Ten Team Fortress Stupidities over at Galactic Emporium has done rather well. Thank you, reddit, for pointing out that I'm great! And thank you, reader, for getting over there and reading it!

Videogame rapture at the Galactic Emporium

An article by me on Halo 3 and things related up over at the Galactic Emporium. I'll be writing there every day from now on, so check back often and tell them how awesome an idea it was to give me money.

Temporary technical tits-uppery

Some links are currently broken. Resolution underway.

Brewster's millions? Amateur

In a story too honestly retarded to be made up, the US government has spent over a billion dollars and doesn't even know what they don't have to show for it. Private US firm DynCorp was contracted to train an Iraqi police force, and so far the results of $1,200,000,000 seem to be ten cabinets of dodgy paperwork and probably a distinct rise in the "Lamborghini:DynCorp employee" ratio. To put that into perspective, a more permanent and effective drop in the crime rate could have been achieved by giving every citizen of Iraq forty dollars and asking them to stay indoors for half an hour.

The best bit is the lovable naivete displayed by those investigating the crime. Auditors claim that the project is so badly managed that it's impossible to find out where the money went, apparently not realising that when somebody takes a thousand thousand thousand dollars from you and fixes things so it's impossible to trace, they managed what they were doing really well. DynCorp insists that there was no "intenional fraud", a phrase that I genuinely don't need to say anything about to make it funnier, but they haven't ruled out slipping on a banana peel, falling onto a keyboard and accidentally misappropriating enough money to give everyone in Cyprus a thousand dollars.

They say the state department could take up to five years to check through the records and prove improper expenses, which shows that they just don't understand the correct attitude for spending twice the gross domestic product of Gambia. This isn't like being too scared to complain to a used car salesman, guys. When you spend a billion dollars you don't have to prove shit about what happened to it - it's up to the people you paid to prove that they did it, and prove they did an absolutely perfect job worth a thousand goddamn million (fucking) dollars. If that's too complex, just say "Where's my police force?", count to ten, and if there's no trained civil authority structure standing there then you ask for your money back.

How do you get as far as nine zeroes before checking that something is actually being done with the money? I'm pretty sure it wasn't all handed over in a single awards ceremony with a cheque the size of a tennis court, which means that at some point somebody had paid over a hundred million dollars, thought "I wonder why these guys haven't started building anything and spend all day with hookers in a swimming pool shaped like a hand giving me the finger", then shrugged and kept pouring cash into the great big bottomless pit.

It doesn't help that DynCorp sounds like the most madeup business name since "Legitimate Businesses Inc". If I walked into a building marked "DynCorp" I'd expect to be attacked by hundreds of identically-rendered security guards tripping over the pistol ammunition inexplicably lying around the floor. Those trying to use the same tactic on their next tax return should rename themselves "John McRealPerson" and send in a folder of haiku-based sudoku instead of their W2 this year, for a fun and exciting demonstration the governments grasp of priorities between "Billion dollar scam" and "Actual citizen forty dollars short".

Science admits it made integration up.

Another article of mine up at the Creative Science Quarterly. You should go and read that, you know.

iLimb over at TechBuzz

Another piece by me for the fine folks over at TechBuzz, the gadget department of CRAM Teen Science magazine.

Daily blogs at

My first post for is up here. I'll be contributing there daily, so anytime you need a little extra Luke-wordage you can satisfy your cravings.