News Article

Reaction: PS4 May Play Second Fiddle to PS3 This Year, But It Makes Sense

Posted by Sammy Barker

Ongoing appeal

The sarcastic ‘Year of the PlayStation 3’ meme has existed as long as the console itself. Lacking software and struggling commercially next to the more affordable Xbox 360 and innovative Nintendo Wii, forum posters and bloggers adopted the scornful slogan in order to mock the manufacturer’s initial missteps with its current generation console. Despite eventually shrugging those early concerns aside, the phrase still pops up from time to time in response to the platform’s line-up. It’s typically used in jest, but in 2013, it actually carries some truth.

Little more than two months ago, Sony Santa Monica deployed God of War: Ascension, a somewhat unnecessary but thoroughly enjoyable instalment in one of PlayStation’s best-selling franchises. It was accompanied by Gears of War: Judgment on the Xbox 360 – two prequels produced for outgoing consoles. Except, that’s not entirely true for the Japanese manufacturer’s existing machine, as the PS3 still has a lot of life left in it. The next few months will plot the arrival of new games from Naughty Dog, Quantic Dream, and now Polyphony Digital – not exactly small names for a platform on its last legs.

In fact, when you look at the line-up Sony’s got in store for its current generation system over the coming months, it makes for impressive reading. The Last of Us, Beyond: Two Souls, Gran Turismo 6 – these are the sort of titles that you’d expect to see on a console in its prime, not one on the verge of being leapfrogged by new hardware. Incredibly, the catalogue bulges further when you factor in third parties, too. Cross-generation games such as Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and Call of Duty: Ghosts are still on the way – and then there’s the small matter of a little sequel called Grand Theft Auto V, the latest entry in one of the biggest franchises in gaming.

It’s a line-up that’s fitting of the moniker ‘Year of the PS3’, and certainly not for derisive reasons. The platform’s had strong periods in the past, of course – both 2009 and 2011 immediately spring to mind – but nothing quite on the scale of what the coming months hold. That, under ordinary circumstances, would be cause for celebration – but with the PlayStation 4 right around the corner, it’s starting to look a little odd. The question is: has the manufacturer lost its marbles, or is it actually making the right moves?

We’ve always maintained that the PS3 will remain its relevancy in the marketplace for some time yet, but today’s Gran Turismo 6 announcement changed our stance somewhat. The platform holder’s currently putting a lot of resources behind The Last of Us, and Beyond: Two Soul’s recent appearance at the Tribeca Film Festival indicated that it’s on the verge of doing the same for the Quantic Dream adventure. Considering the sales of the franchise in general, we’d be shocked if it didn’t provide Polyphony Digital’s just revealed sequel with a similar amount of support. So, where, exactly, will the PS4 fit in?

Well, it’s not like the next generation console’s going to be released without any form of marketing support – ‘Greatness Awaits’, remember – but we think that it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the PS3 is going to remain the platform holder’s flagship console throughout the holiday season. With the system still yet to reach a mainstream price point – it’ll almost certainly be reduced to $199 in North America at some point this year – it strikes us that the manufacturer’s going to give the console one last Christmas to shine. It may seem like a baffling strategy at first – and we’ve struggled with the concept ourselves for several months – but it does actually make some sense.

The reality is that the hardcore market will purchase the PS4 regardless. The lure of new entries in popular franchises such as Killzone and inFAMOUS will prove too strong for devoted gamers, and, short of a $599 US dollar-esque pricing disaster, the system will sell out at launch irrespective of the PS3’s line-up. Much like the Wii U, those early sales will eventually tail off in early 2014, but that’s when the company can change direction. Theoretically, it has very little to lose by focusing on its existing system this Christmas, and yet it has a whole lot to gain.

With the software that’s currently in the pipeline for the PS3 and a reduced price point, the console is going to sell absolute gangbusters this year. Sony estimated 10 million units in its recent financial forecast, but we already have some reason to believe that it may be intentionally setting its targets low. Regardless, we wouldn’t be surprised if it exceeded that, and it’s important to remember that it will be raking in pure profit in the process. The system is now approaching its eighth year on the market, and you have to imagine that even at a lower cost, it will be seriously raking in cash for the company this year.

And, ultimately, that will put the PS4 in good stead. It’s true that Microsoft’s likely to sprint out of the blocks with the next Xbox, but guiding the PS3 through another successful holiday season will not necessarily doom its successor to failure. Realistically, how many more units is the Redmond-based manufacturer likely to sell in a single quarter? And let’s not forget that the North American firm’s refreshed system will actually have competition this time around – from both current and next generation machines.

Sony’s clearly looking to the future with its hardware transition strategy, and there’s definitely some sense in the decision. It will bank big profits on the back of the likes of Gran Turismo 6 this Christmas, and lock a number of casual players into its brand. Meanwhile, the PS4 will still get its moment in the spotlight, and should find itself in a much stronger position than its predecessor on account of actually being on store shelves this time around. Whether the next Xbox rockets to an early lead or not, it doesn’t really matter – the Japanese manufacturer is more concerned with the long game, as the PS3 is currently proving in spades.

What do you make of Sony’s strategy with the PS4? Do you think that the company’s making the right decisions with its current generation software line-up? Let us know in the comments section below.

User Comments (17)



ShogunRok said:

I think it's a strange one that just might work - but its success largely depends on how well received the PS4 is when it launches. The main concern I have is that people will create an air of negativity around the next gen machine - similar to what happened with the PS3 - and that will initially stunt sales.



odd69 said:

the price to will have a lot to do. I didn't buy a ps3 at launch. It was 500$.



Gamer83 said:

It'll play second fiddle but it makes zero sense. I have no problem with third parties focusing on the current machines but all of Sony's effort should be on PS4 at this point. GT 6 has no business being a PS3 game, it should be role-reversing with Drive Club. The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls should be the final big first party published PS3 games.



Squiggle55 said:

All this is is a reason for me not to buy the PS4 right away - so I'm not sitting there again with a fancy new machine while Sony spreads their resources around. But hey it's their business.



Epic said:

Timing is everything.
1. They should first release it few months before or after black friday and before the Next Xbox.
Why you may ask?
Everyone will take all the huge deals available for other consoles and games and won't bother getting the new system if they have already a completely new system.
This was Wii U first mistake everyone went through Xbox 360 and PS3 while they were in some cases half of price with some games included instead of it.
If Microsoft releases their new console first they will be able to get that impatient next gen early adopters for some there's no step back before that.



charlesnarles said:

well, I'd love to buy a PS4 and pay full price for huge-scale, super-fancy, really satisfying games instead of paying about the same price for worse versions. It's a weird move; it makes it seem like they don't expect anyone to buy a PS4. As if it were going to be available to anyone this year...



Gamer83 said:


The original Wii launched around the same time in Nov. that Nintendo launched Wii U in last year and it sold tremendously well. What hurt Wii U wasn't the launch date as much as it was poor marketing and no killer first party games.



rjejr said:

It's hard to imagine what's going on in the Sony boardrooms, or wherever these decisions are being made. Are they spooked by the low WiiU sales and afraid of the same fate for the PS4, not to mention their own lackluster Vita sales; are they too worried about what Microsoft is going to do, or not do; have they been hit by sticker shock after bumping up the 4GB of RAM to 8GB?

It kind of feels like a company that is unsure of what to do w/ a new system other than have it out at the same time as their #1 rival. Which is still better than Nintendo which just didn't do anything game or marketing wise w/ the WiiU.

I still feel like a part of the puzzle is missing, something that will be unveiled at E3. Something important has to be unveiled at E3, no?



ThreadShadow said:

There's just too many big PS3 games in the pipeline for Sony to toss it yet.
1."PlayStation Family" remark from Sony rep.
2. Large install base.
3. Promised/hyped PS3 games.
4. Precendence set by PS2 of big games released just before/during/just after release of next gen system.

Big games on PS3 (I do not personally endorse them all.)
1. Gran Turismo 6
2. The Last of Us
3. Dust 514 (true it could easily carry over to PS4)
4. RE: Rev
5. Tales of games
6. Saints Row 4
7. GTA V
8. Splinter Cell Blacklist
9. Lost Planet 3
10. Rayman Legends
11.Kingdom Hearts 1.5 remix
12. Beyond
13. Puppeteer (PSN)
14. Rain (PSN)
15. Madden
16. Batman AO
17. Ass Creed 4
18. CoD Ghosts
19. WatchDogs
20. Final Fantasy XIV (online 2!) If Sony is trying to foster a good relationship with SE, it doesn't seem likely they will drop the PS3 just when SE releases a huge mmorpg for it. (once again, I could see Sony buying this onto PS4 though.)
Most likely:
2. Lightning Returns: FFXIII
3. Battlefield 4 (?)
4. Destiny
5. LBP 3 (I wouldn't be surprised.)
6. FF Versus XIII
7. The Last Guardian

Of course I don't think the list discounts the possibility of releases on both PS3 and PS4, but I think if certain games retain exclusivity it will be to the PS3, rather then the PS4.

That is a lot of confirmed PS3 games and hyped potentials for Sony to just start ignoring the PS3, don't you think?



Epic said:

The Wii atleast was the 1st "revolutionary" motion system and was really cheap compared to the PS3 and Xbox 360 everyone including all the casual gamers wanted one just to play Wii Sports.
The Wii U now now has the name of Wii HD + tablet controler and now is competing with 2 consoles with the same graphical capabilities and cheaper and with an already huge library of games and now it doesn't have that amazing revolutionary image.
Different times, different situations in this type of bussiness every single detail may affect inderectly the industry.



Gamer83 said:


We all thought Sony would have to have big Vita news last year at E3 and they spent a whole 5 minutes on it. After this blunder with GT 6 I wouldn't be shocked at all if they believe showing what the console looks like is big enough. That will really get people hyped like when MS shows off the Halo 5 logo at the end of its conference.



InsertNameHere said:

This is a great strategy and it has the potential to keep Sony ahead of the competition. After October, first party support on the PS3 will die out and people will have more incentive to switch to PS4, which will have tons of first and third party support.

Hardcore Sony fans will switch over regardless. Then, you have to think about the CoD fans who will switch over for the enhanced graphics and features that the PS4 provides.



Gamer83 said:

The vast majority of CoD fans will be going with the next Xbox for that series. I'm sure plenty will migrate from PS to Xbox when it's announced that MS is continuing its DLC deals with Activision.



Lionhart said:

I think that Sony is actually making a very RISKY and yet shrewd move with their strategy for this Holiday season regarding the PS3/PS4. If things work out it actually could prove a financial success for Sony PlayStation because most of the people that I've been talking with are planning to buy a PS3 this Holiday season. I, personally am expecting Sony to do as Nintendo did with the WiiU and sell an inexpensive PS4 bundle ($249.99) and a premium PS4 bundle of about ($399.99). If Sony goes with an affordable PS4 bundle I'm definitely going to pick up a PS4 as I'm sure the new EA Games Star Wars titles will be stunning on the PS4. However, I'm still sad that the PS4 won't be backwards compatible with the PS3.



Zombie_Barioth said:

Its rather bit odd but I think its a pretty smart plan. They know that people aren't likely to rush out in droves to snatch up the PS4 so instead of going whole hog on their new console they're soaking up profits from the PS3 while gradually building it up and keeping early adopters satisfied.

They know console launches are usually slow to begin with even without a bad economy and the like, and since the PS4 isn't backwards compatible people will want one anyway weather they're waiting for the PS4 to drop in price or not.



artemisthemp said:

The only thing affecting my hype for PS4 is 1. Region Lock on Games <-- Region Lock need to die 2. Only same Region Account account allow

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