Over the last year or so I’ve noticed a trend in predictions and conjecture regarding the future of gaming, that is, Sony either isn’t a part of it, or it won’t be for very long. This kind of doom and gloom is not exactly uncommon, and certainly not exclusive to Sony, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a gamer that thinks they haven’t received the bulk of it recently. I think a lot of it is understandable and some completely reasonable, but it’s a glass-half-empty perspective that’s largely unfair. Here’s why I think Sony isn’t doomed, and why the PS4 is in a much better position than you might think:
The PS3 launched at $500-600 with hardly a compelling exclusive a year after the 360 launched for $300-400, and yet that initial laughable cock-up of a console is going to pass 70M in sales and it outsells the 360 (Total sales divided by years on market). I think that’s a testament to just how powerful the Playstation brand is, and just how relevant it is. Sony can utterly and completely mess up the launch of a console, and then it goes on to sell 70M. That not only shows the brand is powerful, but that when Sony does something right, it can be incredibly effective. It took an enormous effort to turn the PS3 around, and that kind of leadership and talent is going to be developing and planning the release and life-cycle of the PS4. To me, that’s exciting. That’s promising.
Now, although the PS3’s situation has been turned around to become a flourishing money-making console equipped with a rich library of games and dedicated community, it’s still never going to fully make up for the billions spent in R&D. This is a problem that I think will be absent in Sony’s future console releases; With the PSVita Sony have showed they have a new, great hardware strategy.
PSV is a fantastic piece of hardware. It’s powerful, it’s sexy, it’s functional and it doesn’t cost 2 jobs and a kidney on the black market to
buy. The only extravagant part of it is the OLED screen, the rest is sensible and effective. It takes a small loss, and will make up for all costs (R&D + initial loses) in 3 years, predicted by Sony. Now, of course, the Vita is selling like garbage, but that can be attributed almost absolutely to software support, or lack thereof and the total opposite situation for it’s closest competitor, the 3DS, which has a great catalogue of titles. Lack of software support is a problem that’s never existed on a Sony home-console and though it’s still a potential problem, it’s a mistake Sony can now learn from, just as they learned a lesson about hardware with the PS3.
I have one more thought on the topic, and it’s one element of Playstation that people seem to gloss over or underestimate. It’s the extensive first-party and second-party infrastructure. While a couple studios have been closed in the past year, it’s strongest have only strengthened and expanded, it’s experimenting with indie studios and it’s building more and arguably better relationships than Microsoft or Nintendo with it’s 2nd party studios. There are 3-game deals with smaller indie developers, there’s creative freedom given to developers, there’s mutual understanding between Sony the publisher and Sony the developer. Naughty Dog, one of Sony’s most valuable developers now has 2 teams, and has the potential to release a game every year, or 2 out of every 3 years, a subtle but smart move by Sony. There’s without a doubt been management issues with Japan Studio this gen, but lately they’ve been releasing and have planned a steady stream of games – a great sign.
So there you have it, those are my thoughts on the subject. In a nutshell I think Playstation is in a better position than most think, and they’ve made great, promising strides in the last 5 years. What do you think? Tell us in the comments!