Feature: Three Lessons PS4 Can Learn from Xbox One's Unveiling
Posted by Sammy Barker
We don’t think that it’s entirely unfair to say that Microsoft’s big Xbox One unveiling didn’t quite go to plan. While the Redmond-based manufacturer clearly had the mainstream market in its sights, we’d like to assume that it wasn’t planning on completely alienating its core audience in the process. It’s still too early to say what the long term repercussions of last night’s entertainment-driven press conference will be, but the company’s never been under so much pressure to deliver at E3.
And it puts the PlayStation 4 in an enviable position. We fully expected the system to have lost lots of mindshare over the past 24 hours – Monday’s hardware teaser suggests that Sony anticipated the same – and yet it feels like the console’s actually profited from the Xbox One’s reveal. However, that doesn’t mean that the machine is in the clear by any stretch, leaving the Japanese giant with plenty to prove in the lead up to launch. But what can it learn from Microsoft’s bungled announcement in order to ensure that it exits next month’s Los Angeles event on top?
Focus on games
First impressions are important, and last night’s Xbox One reveal left many gamers feeling that they aren’t Microsoft’s priority anymore. Regardless of whether that’s true or not, Sony has a huge opportunity to capitalise on the goodwill that it’s built up among the hardcore audience over the past few months by pandering to their needs. It can do this by using its pre-E3 press conference as a platform to promote games rather than software and services. Having already dedicated its PlayStation Meeting event to games, it could earn a colossal amount of goodwill by simply repeating the gesture.
With the mainstream media in attendance – and concerned shareholders watching from the sidelines – we suspect that Sony may be tempted to tout the media capabilities of its own machine. But with hundreds of thousands of the most hardcore gamers tuning in, the platform holder must put the tastes of its fanbase first. There’ll be plenty of opportunities to communicate the system’s broader feature-set either closer to launch or during a separate show at E3. For the main, livestreamed press conference, though, it’s imperative that the firm places all of its attention on games.
Send the right message
While the backlash to last night’s Microsoft event can be mostly attributed to the contents of the press conference itself, the muddled messaging afterwards certainly hasn’t helped. Immediately after the show, Microsoft corporate vice president – and former Sony favourite – Phil Harrison insinuated that the Xbox One will essentially block used games. The company then issued an ambiguous statement through director of communications Larry Hryb that shied away from that notion, before Harrison reconfirmed it in later interviews. At the time of writing, we’re still not entirely sure what Microsoft’s stance on pre-owned content actually is.
And that’s down to bungled messaging. It’s rare for Microsoft – which is ordinarily such an organised company – to make such a gaffe, but it’s something that Sony must be aware of ahead of E3. With a renewed emphasis on used games and always-on connectivity, the Japanese giant is going to find itself grilled by the press on such topics all over again, and it must have a consistent, clear, and cohesive stance to convey to consumers. The drama surrounding the Xbox One right now may not be as bad as it seems, but even if that’s the case, Microsoft’s going to have to extinguish a lot of flames before it wins back the goodwill of the fans that it’s burned over the past 24 hours. Sony, for its part, must avoid a similar scenario.
Avoid the anti-consumer approach
Let’s be perfectly honest: the best way for Sony to eschew any kind of backlash on used games is to state that it’s heading in an entirely different direction to Microsoft. From what we understand, the Xbox One will allow you to sell pre-owned titles, but those that purchase them will have to obtain a new license equivalent to the cost of the game itself in order to unlock them. The PlayStation maker, though, can avoid criticisms in this area by simply not adopting the practice. It’s already said that used games will work on the PS4, but clarifying its approach would do wonders in the eyes of consumers.
While big publishers may not necessarily be impressed with the notion, it will earn the company a lot of goodwill among retailers such as GameStop. As a result, a greater store presence for the PS4 could help to increase the console’s install base, which in turn will mean that developers, no matter how disgruntled, will have no option but to support the platform. We already know that the console will not require an online connection – the Xbox One must be connected once every 24 hours – but Sony must be more forthcoming with its used games approach in order to avoid getting dragged into the backlash that’s currently surrounding Microsoft’s machine.
Are there any further lessons that you feel that Sony could learn from the response to Microsoft’s Xbox One unveiling? Let us know in the comments section and poll below.
Which of the following lessons do you think is most important to the PS4? (57 votes)
Put games ahead of media and services
Send a clear and cohesive message to consumers
Avoid anti-consumer principles such as used game blocks
I actually think all of the above are important
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