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Talking Point: Why Sony Must Release the PS4 in the West This Year

Posted by Sammy Barker

Breaking tradition

Sony’s been frighteningly non-committal regarding the launch timing of the PlayStation 4. While the platform holder flashed up the words ‘Holiday 2013’ during its big PlayStation Meeting press conference earlier in the year, it’s failed to really elaborate on the window since. “The precise details, as I say, for exact dates, exact regions, is it all or some of them? We don’t know,” SCEUK’s managing director Fergal Gara told Digital Spy in February.

Despite his ambiguous comments, the executive did confirm that the next generation console will release in at least one territory this year, which is almost certain to be North America. Microsoft’s dominance in the region during the course of this generation has left Sony playing catch-up in the crucial market, and that means that the platform holder will not risk gifting its biggest competitor an entire holiday season uncontested in the nation.

While we can’t be certain that the Xbox 360’s successor will release this holiday, we can certainly make some solid assumptions. Unlike the PlayStation maker, Microsoft has virtually nothing in the pipeline for its current generation console. There are still titles such as Grand Theft Auto V and Battlefield 4 poised to release on the system later this year, of course, but it seems that the attention of its first-party studios is now fully focused on fresh hardware. As such, it would certainly be a shock if the manufacturer failed to deploy the system later this year.

Furthermore, considering the company’s focus in the past, we can also assume that the next Xbox will release in North America first. However, it’s perhaps worth noting that Microsoft’s been fairly good with global launches in the past. While the original Xbox took four months to hit European shores, the Xbox 360 deployed in three major territories within a three week period. It’s not unreasonable to think that the firm could achieve something similar with the current generation console’s successor.

That must make Europe a key target for Sony, too. While the platform holder’s always commanded a strong presence across parts of the territory, the PS3’s launch some 15 months later than its chief competitor proved a massive risk for the brand’s dominance, and it completely squandered the system’s market share in the UK, where it’s been playing catch-up. It’s important that the PS4 doesn’t commit a similar error, and is a viable option alongside the next Xbox in both North America and Europe this holiday.

And that, of course, brings us to the elephant in the room: Japan. With each of the major PlayStation platforms to date, Sony has sided with tradition and launched its latest wares in its home nation first. With the PS4, it must avoid convention and apply some common sense instead. While it’s true that with a smattering of heavy hitters the Nintendo Wii U could yet prove a force in the region, it seems unlikely that Microsoft will ever make a mark in the territory. In addition, home consoles are just not as popular as handhelds in the east. As such, if the company finds itself forced to choose, the platform holder must favour the aforementioned western regions ahead of the land of the rising sun.

And there are other reasons for that beyond personal bias. Arguably the biggest mistake that Sony made with the PS3 was allowing Microsoft to gain a foothold in the market, be it through delays or high prices. Due to its swiftly established install base, the Xbox 360 quickly became the ‘default’ system for developers, press, and, perhaps pivotally, gaming cliques. With console ecosystems and online gaming becoming increasingly important, who wants to buy a system that none of their friends own?

Sony cannot allow the next Xbox to gain traction uncontested. It’s already proven that it’s willing to do right by developers and gamers, but if it’s unable to lock a good proportion of early adopters into the PlayStation Network ahead of Xbox Live, then it’ll find itself playing catch-up all over again. Not everyone will upgrade their console this Christmas, but the early adopters that do will trigger a snowball effect that will dictate the trajectory of the next generation. Sony needs to ensure that it’s at least a part of the conversation, and not sitting in the sidelines pandering to a Japanese audience that would much rather be playing on a Nintendo 3DS than a home console.

Of course, we still don’t really know what Microsoft’s got in store for the next generation, but from Sony’s perspective, we’re not sure that it matters all that much. The company’s already done the legwork with its own console, and now it must navigate the final hurdle. A successful global launch would be ideal, but if that’s out of the question, then North America and Europe must be priorities. It seems unlikely that the Xbox maker will simply surrender its dominance in its most successful territories. This time, though, Sony has a chance to put up a fight.


Do you think that Sony will ignore tradition in order to confront Microsoft head-on this holiday? What regions do you think are most important to the PS4’s success? Let us know in the comments section below.

Which region do you think that the PS4 will launch in first? (45 votes)

Japan

38%

North America

47%

Europe

9%

Not sure

7%

Please login to vote in this poll.

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User Comments (15)

KALofKRYPTON

#1

KALofKRYPTON said:

Japan first, possibly with NA.
I fear that EU will be left hanging again. A shame if that happens, it was a pretty hard time watching my mate buy 360's left right & centre back at it's launch. And I was tempted to get one too. Glad I held out for my PS3 as many of their early 360's danced a jig of death.
A later release is by no means a deal breaker this time either, but, if they miss xmas again and the cash is in the bank, it'll probably get spent!

Sirriana

#2

Sirriana said:

Japan it's always JAPAN!!!! lol but yay there based there so why would they go anywhere else first

ShogunRokAdmin

#3

ShogunRok said:

I fully expect Europe to be last. I even expect early 2014. Never again will I get my hopes up when it comes to Sony releasing things on time.

That said, it would be of great benefit to them to release within the same month worldwide.

rjejr

#4

rjejr said:

Since they're basically using stock PC parts this time around - I think I remember there being some issue w/ the blu-ray drive supply chain last time - shouldn't they be able to get out however many consoles to wherever they want whenever they want? Or are they already having issues coming up w/ all that RAM?

They need to get it out in the US for the holidays. Whether that's before or after Japan or the UK/EU doesn't matter as long as it's out before the holidays in the US.

artemisthemp

#5

artemisthemp said:

Sony have always release their system in Japan first, so why wouldn't they do with PS4.
Then most likely US and last EU.

I really hope Sony announce PS4 will launch same week for EU and US

get2sammybAdmin

#6

get2sammyb said:

@artemisthemp I just think it's a terrible idea leading with Japan if it allows Microsoft to get a foothold in North America or Europe. If it's still able to reach all territories before Christmas, then by all means lead with Japan. But if it's going to be supply constrained/delay in Western regions, then it really needs to make Japan wait.

Jaz007

#7

Jaz007 said:

Japan doesn't have as much demand and won't require as many goods as the other territories. If they really put effort into making enough can't they pretty much not have one launch affect the other and just release them almost simultaneously?

Jaz007

#8

Jaz007 said:

Another thing to consider is that they announced coming to NA this year but not anywhere else yet.

get2sammybAdmin

#9

get2sammyb said:

@Jaz007 You'd think so, but Europe had to wait six months for the PS3. I don't know whether the switch to off-the-shelf components will make manufacturing easier. You'd think so, right?

RiseUp44

#10

RiseUp44 said:

I predict a release date of 11/12/13 which is a tuesday. I also predict it will launch simultaneously in North America and also in Japan followed by Europe and other regions shortly after, maybe just after the new year. This seems to be the most logical date to launch but my second guess would be 10/22/13 and this is honestly me just looking at the calendar and liking this date, lol..

BlueProxy

#12

BlueProxy said:

Really hoping Sony learned their lesson. There may be some pride there still, or share holders that push them launch in Japan first. Understandable since it's their home territory, but it's not so B&W. Could be a simultaneous launch including NA, or a very short window after launching in Japan first. Either way, they at least know from experience, that it's not a good idea, if they want any chance to compete with MS. A good sign is that they already started showing they are willing to change the recipe by jumping ahead with first announcement. Just please, make it somewhat reasonable in price or it's all for nothing.

MS has been quiet for a good two years without any real exclusive titles. I'll bet those resources were for new IPs, for the new system. I don't like their business practices, or top leaders, but they have a way of knowing how to market. It may be shady, but in the end they still sell a lot more than Sony.

hydeks

#13

hydeks said:

Poll definitely said my opinion, either NA or Japan will probably get it first. I think sometimes Europe ha gotten things before NA, though.

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