Current Sony CEO, former PlayStation president, and lifelong Ridge Racer superfan Kaz Hirai is a smart man. In an interview with British newspaper The Times in late January, the executive offered a tidbit regarding the PlayStation 4 that threw everyone – including ourselves – off the scent. "Why go first when your competitors can look at your specifications and come up with something better?” he pondered. Just over a week later, the platform holder promised to show us a glimpse of the future.
Nobody really expected Sony to announce the PS4 so early. Cast your mind back a couple of months, and it was widely assumed that Microsoft would move first. It didn’t, and while the world waits for official details regarding the next Xbox, the PlayStation manufacturer finds itself in a comfortable position. What Hirai failed to mention in his interview with The Times is that announcing early actually makes a lot of sense.
Ever since Sony’s big PS4 coming out party on 20th February, there have been a slew of next generation game reveals. The likes of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and Destiny have all been confirmed for the platform holder’s impending machine. It’s pretty clear that they’re coming to the Xbox 360’s successor, too, but with Microsoft keeping schtum for the time being, it’s the PS4 that’s hogging all of the headlines.
But that’s not the only advantage that the platform holder currently holds. With the system out in the open, Sony has been able to dispel a number of myths surrounding its upcoming console. One of the first questions pointed at Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida following last month’s press conference was whether the PS4 will block used games. “Do you want us to do that?” he joked with journalists, before confirming that you’ll be able to play resold software on the system.
Microsoft, however, finds itself in a much more nebulous position. Earlier today, a slew of rumours suggested that the manufacturer’s next console will force you to be connected to Xbox Live, will insist that the Kinect camera is hooked up at all times, and will require you to install every game. The information is apparently a year old, and is probably out of date by now, but with the company unable to clarify things, an unnecessary backlash is building around the unannounced machine.
And that only plays into the hands of Sony, who is currently filling stores with promotional materials designed to ensure that you register your interest in the PS4 early. According to UK retailer GAME – who is currently taking £20 deposits on the next generation system – pre-orders for the platform have been strong. Meanwhile, North American outlet GameStop has seen more than 600,000 gamers sign up to its ‘First to Know’ information service about the machine. Microsoft is giving its competitor time to stamp its system into the subconscious of consumers.
As a result, there’s a chance that the Xbox 360’s successor could end up looking like it’s behind the curve. Features that were given a rapturous reception at the PS4’s reveal – such as the ability to play games while they download or pause your progress practically anywhere – may be met with rolled eyes when they’re inevitably announced for Microsoft’s next generation system, too. The impetus is on the manufacturer to not only match Sony’s offering, but also better it.
Of course, we daresay that it will be more than up to the challenge, and will have plenty of interesting things to say about its own upcoming machine – but it’s clear that the PS4 is in the driver's seat for the time being. Its position could easily change in the coming weeks, but for now the pressure is on Sony's competitors to chip away its early lead.
Do you think that Sony was right to announce the PS4 first? What does Microsoft need to do to extinguish your hype for the upcoming console? Let us know in the comments section and poll below.
Do you think that Sony was right to announce the PS4 first? (44 votes)
Yes, now Microsoft is playing catch-up
I don't think that it really matters
No, it should have waited a little longer
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