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Talking Point: The Brilliant Build Up to Sony's PlayStation Meeting

Posted by Sammy Barker

Shock and awe

Sony’s marketing team often bears the brunt of the entire industry’s ire. Forum posters lament the company’s inability to successfully build excitement around its products, journalists and bloggers ridicule the department’s shortcomings, and developers no doubt privately ponder why their titles aren’t receiving the attention that they deserve. But while the firm’s struggled to create a furore around its output all generation, it proved that it’s not entirely incompetent with its PlayStation Meeting press conference earlier in the year.

At the time of writing, we’re mere days away from Microsoft’s big Xbox unveiling – but while our perspective is inherently skewed, it doesn’t feel like the industry’s anticipation is pulsating in quite the same way as it was when the PlayStation 4 was about to be announced. That could merely be down to timing, as the Redmond-based manufacturer is essentially following the leader, but all the same, given the company’s track record, we expected cyber space to be awash with teaser trailers, banner advertisements, and press snippets promoting the imminent event. As it happens, we’ve got a few rumours, a PlayStation Blog-esque webpage, and a few Instagram photographs of a partially constructed outhouse.

You should never count the Xbox maker out, though, and we’re sure that it’ll have the web rocking moments before its conference is set to start. Still, even if it turns up the temperature over the next few days, there’s no question that it’s failed to match the month-long build up to Sony’s hotly anticipated PlayStation Meeting. And while that doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things – let’s be honest, it’s the quality of its content that Microsoft will be judged by – it still evidences just how seriously the platform holder is treating the transition to the next generation.

Looking back on it with the benefit of hindsight, the countdown to the PS4’s unveiling was very impressive. It started with an unexpected trailer deployed out of nowhere on 31st January. That video focused on the platform’s famous face buttons, and promised to reveal a glimpse of the future a few weeks later. Everyone instantly understood what the footage was teasing, but without being specific, it kept the conversation high. Such debate was fuelled by the fact that, mere days earlier, former PlayStation president Kaz Hirai had insinuated to the press that Sony would allow Microsoft to announce its console first – a head fake that caught the entire industry by surprise.

But what the firm did especially well is keep the media’s attention on its event. Instead of shutting up shop until 20th February, it gradually started to build up hype until anticipation was at fever pitch. It did this through a sequence of trailers, each recapping key moments from the brand’s history. These included rare archive footage and news reports from the PSone and PlayStation 2 era, and were designed to drive nostalgia. The company acted upon this strategy by launching the ‘#PlayStationMemories’ trending topic on Twitter the day before the reveal itself, which prompted an article about the brand to occupy the featured topic on the BBC’s homepage.

It didn’t stop there, either. The company also employed its partnership with the Champions League to promote the event at football stadiums around Europe, and even posted snarky but fun slogans on various websites. Its colossal promotional effort paid off, too, with concurrent spectators shattering Ustream records, and it even came close to matching the same number of total views as an official NASA meteor broadcast. Furthermore, the first PS4 trailer attracted more traffic on YouTube in ten days than all of the Super Bowl commercials, an impressive feat considering the amount of mainstream attention that those advertisements ordinarily attain.

And it just goes to show that the company is capable of making a splash when it needs to. A clever combination of social media and traditional marketing transformed its press conference into a celebratory event, and allowed the firm to send a strong message regarding its next generation console. The hype has naturally died down over recent weeks, but the real battle is about to begin. The platform holder’s going to need to turn up the temperature all over again in the run up to the PS4’s launch, because Microsoft is not going to remain this quiet. Fortunately, the build up to the PlayStation Meeting has proven that the firm is not as inept in this area as we all probably assumed.


What do you think that Sony did especially well during the build up to its PlayStation Meeting press conference? Do you think that it can recapture similar enthusiasm following the announcement of Microsoft’s machine? Let us know in the comments section below.

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User Comments (15)

get2sammybAdmin

#1

get2sammyb said:

Dat trailer. Still gives me goosebumps. Fun looking back on this stuff, February was an amazing time for the PlayStation brand. I think Sony did a really great job building up to the conference — and during the show itself.

rastamadeus

#2

rastamadeus said:

I don't agree. It did an exceptional job in building up hype with PlayStation owners but my friends who have a Wii U, Xbox or aren't interested in gaming only knew of the PS4 before the reveal thanks to me. When Apple unveil a new product it's on the news - BBC, CNN, etc - around the world. This was on pro-Sony sites and videogame sites. Sony need to do much better. As do Nintendo and Microsoft.

BornOfEvil

#3

BornOfEvil said:

@get2sammyb February was a horribly fantastic month for me. Everytime I came here, my heart felt like it was going to explode out my chest. There was just so much to be hyped about and not that E3 is around the corner, my hype meter has started building again.

@rastamadeus If I remember right, the reveal was entioned on a few news stations here in the states a week or so beforehand.

get2sammybAdmin

#4

get2sammyb said:

@rastamadeus A fair point, but let's be honest, this was never going to get TV commercials or anything on that scale. I think the Champions League hoardings and BBC homepage article were big deals for what was, at the end of the day, just an announcement event.

rjejr

#5

rjejr said:

Given your premise that the Sony unveil was more widespread than the lead up to Xbox's unveil I think there might be a reason for that. Or several.

Sony is planning on living or dieing w/ the PS3/PS4 combo.

Microsoft is dealing w/ Win 8 fallout - see Win 8.1 fall update.
Trying to sell it's phones.
Trying to sell it's tablets.
Trying to build it's app store.
Fighting off blame for the entire PC industry imploding.

Sony wants to be know as an entertainment company but Microsoft still needs to focus on it's business enterprises. Plus maybe Microsoft is correct and Sony peaked too soon?

Sammy, how much coverage are you going to give the event Monday? I don't expect moment by moment but if you give a summary after I won' tbother googling it. I have no interest in buying one but I'm curios about piracy prevention and always on, and if it will have any games or just be an HBOgo portal ;-)

rastamadeus

#6

rastamadeus said:

True, I was just meaning the hype was purely aimed at Sony gamers. They need to do a LOT more after E3 to get it noticed by casual and non gamers. My Dad, for example, knows of "The Play Station" but had no idea there is more than one. Now I know a 65 year old isn't really a target market but he watches the news a lot - as he writes quizzes - yet he had no idea it was more than one machine. PlayStation needs to be the buzz word like it was back in 1996 (I think) to really build up hype. Anybody remember the original Orange adverts in the UK? Everybody in the country knew what it was, who they were and what it did. That sort of buzz is what needs to happen so that everybody knows a new PlayStation is here. The pre reveal buzz was a start but much more needs to be done. Anyway, sod games - it's Eurovision time! (who doesn't love a bit of cheese?)

get2sammybAdmin

#7

get2sammyb said:

@rjejr You mean the Microsoft event? Our friends over at Pure Xbox will have full coverage. I'll definitely be covering it from the PlayStation perspective, though.

Gamer83

#8

Gamer83 said:

@rastamadeus

I don't know what they do over in Europe but MS does a great job with the hype train in North America. I do agree the other two could use work, but Nintendo has the benefit of not having to care as much since the main reasons people buy its machines are Mario, Mario Kart, Smash and Zelda and those games haven't needed to be advertised for a long time now.

rastamadeus

#9

rastamadeus said:

@Gamer83 They have adverts on quite a bit but they're bland and boring. But when they do try to do something different they put it on so much that people hate them rather quickly. Problem Microsoft has is everything they touch at the moment is going to poop and no adverts (flashy or bland) work for them. Surface has failed. Badly. And Windows 8 is a disaster. I am 100% convinced they will end up forth in the "war" this time. Nintendo third, Sony second and, sadly, mobile phones first.

CrispyGoomba

#10

CrispyGoomba said:

When you really think about it, Sony did a great job at building up the hype. They kept everyone on their toes on the days following the event. I'll actually be surprised if MS doesn't do a recap of their 2 systems similar to what Sony did. Well, they'll have to do something if they want non hardcore gamers to remember about their event (Maybe #Xboxmemories, lol I got nothing).

DeHorror1975

#11

DeHorror1975 said:

In the end what matters are the games and playstation has the games. MS has perfected the art of awareness though and Sony has improved lately, hopefully it continues and we keep getting superlative games like last of us and god of war. I know for me once I realized that playstation was more about games, which I've noticed for a few years now, and xbox was more leaning more towards being a cable box that happens to play games, I have been strongly pro playstation. Games are what matter. My cable box plays cable. My playstation is for games. All else is secondary.

Squiggle55

#12

Squiggle55 said:

Lately Sony has been running commercials for the whole SEN on ESPN. Showing off the psn store and music unlimited mainly.

Gamer83

#13

Gamer83 said:

@rastamadeus

Well, I don't even really count phones because since they're as necessary as they are in today's society there's no question they're going to outsell dedicated game devices. And I have to be fair, there are some cool mobile games though I do prefer the Vita, 3DS and home consoles. Of the big 3 Nintendo is probably still set up best to win in the long run, it'll be closer this time with them and MS but the least expensive price and the Big 4 is pretty much unbeatable. All the negative press towards Wii U stops this fall when 3D Mario and Mario Kart hit the market alongside a possible price drop. I personally don't have much interest in the system outside of the Mario games but there's no denying the wide appeal of Nintendo's first party efforts.

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