Talking Point: Sony's Aggressive Approach to PS4 Is Working Wonders
Posted by Sammy Barker
A leopard may not be able to change its spots, but that’s not stopped Sony from behaving like a brand new company over the past few months. Freed from the shackles of the PlayStation 3’s biggest blunders, the organisation appears refreshed and ready to reclaim its console crown. The hubris of its current generation endeavours have been pushed to the background, and replaced by an earnest desire to succeed. And if the firm continues on the trajectory that it’s currently tracking, then there’s real reason to believe that the PlayStation 4 can launch on the front foot.
The culmination of its renewed strategy can be best observed over the past seven days. With its closest competitor Microsoft counting down the hours to the Xbox One’s reveal, we’d already dedicated a number of articles to the importance of Sony stealing back some mindshare. But in the end, the company did a better job than we’d ever imagined, and all without wheeling out a single arrogant quote such as “the next generation starts when we say so”. Instead, it recognised the threat that its closest competitor posed, and reacted appropriately.
And that response was calculated, coordinated, and above all else, well planned. At the very start of the week, it deployed a trailer teasing the system’s chassis. While far from a work of art, the video had the desired effect, shooting straight to the top of the Twitter trending list and forcing the mainstream media to take notice on the eve of Microsoft’s massive reveal. It then purchased a slew of online ads across a number of gaming sites, designed to steal the attention away from the inevitable Xbox One coverage. And finally, it threw Europeans an Xbone [ahem – Ed] by pretty much confirming the console for a 2013 release by including the date in a newspaper promotion.
But there’s more to the strategy than we’ve seen over the past seven days. Learning from its rival, the company also appears to be going out of its way to associate its next generation platform with third-party brands. The latest Destiny trailer, for example, put the PS4 front and centre, and also confirmed that the Bungie developed title will get its first gameplay airing during Sony’s E3 press conference next month. The company’s also partnered with Ubisoft and Watch Dogs, securing exclusive additional content for the new title.
And these are outrageously smart choices. While this week’s reveal event confirmed that Microsoft is largely sticking with the tried and tested – Call of Duty and FIFA at this moment in time – it’s clear that the PlayStation maker is banking on the next big thing. Destiny may still have a lot to prove, but is anyone really willing to bet against the creators of Halo? By aligning its platform alongside the franchise early, the company has the opportunity to ‘own’ that fanbase much like the Xbox currently dominates Call of Duty. And if the series takes off in the manner that Activision clearly expects it to, that could yet prove a shrewd move for Sony. The same applies to Watch Dogs.
But it doesn’t stop there, either. Courting indie studios in such an aggressive manner has also paid off for the platform holder, with smaller studios tripping over themselves to get their wares on the new machine. The openness of the company’s developer outreach will not only help to enhance the catalogue of content available on the next generation system, but it’s proving a positive tool from a publicity stance. The buzz on Twitter and message boards surrounding the PS4 is incredibly positive, and that’s partially fuelled by the goodwill that the platform holder’s built up within the development community.
And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that Sony’s ending the current generation with a bang, while the Xbox 360 seems set to fizzle out with a whimper. The company’s efforts to bring a steady stream of first-party content to its existing system have built up expectations for the coming years, and when you consider that the firm’s Worldwide Studios has actually expanded exponentially – with many studios splitting into multiple teams – it’s easy to see where the anticipation is coming from.
Most excitingly, this all represents a marked change from the early days of the PS3. Back then the console arrived to the market late, lacked content, and carried a borderline offensive price point. But worse still, Sony seemed to have the outlook that none of this mattered, and that it would win the generation on the foundations of its brand alone. It faced some tough challenges, but its handling of the PS4 thus far proves that it’s learned. There’s a long, long way to go yet, but at this point in time, it’s hard not to feel a little pang of satisfaction at the prospect that the Japanese giant has changed. Let’s just hope that the firm maintains its current course, and kicks the coming hardware transition off in style.
What’s impressed you most about Sony’s handling of the PS4 thus far? Are you surprised by how well the company’s marketed the console over the past seven days? Let us know in the comments section below.
What do you think Sony’s doing particularly well at the moment? (33 votes)
Maintaining mind share in the PS4
Recruiting indie developers to its platforms
Partnering with appropriate third-party brands
Having a decent marketing presence
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