Sony has been heavily criticised for being reactionary throughout the course of this generation. The platform holder that so confidently set the tone of the gaming landscape with the PSone and the PlayStation 2 was caught off guard by the Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii, an oversight that prompted it to play catch-up in almost every area of its ecosystem. The much maligned PlayStation 3 was late to the market, expensive, architecturally baffling, and offered a gaming network embarrassingly inferior to Xbox Live. But that’s not the case anymore.
Microsoft may have made the right decision, but such a kneejerk reaction shows a lack of belief in the product that it devised
While the actions of Microsoft overnight may have erased one of the PlayStation 4’s selling points, the platform holder can take heart from the manner in which it forced its competitor’s hand. Consumers may have indirectly impacted the corporation’s colossal backtrack by diminishing its pre-order projections, but let’s not forget that Sony set the precedent that forced its counterpart to change course. It may have amplified its own policies to win a public relations war that’s evaporated overnight, but it showed a genuine confidence in its own product and services that we haven’t seen for some time.
Microsoft, on the other hand, looks weak. It may have ultimately made the right decision to remove its abhorrent digital rights management policies, but such a kneejerk reaction shows a distinct lack of belief in the original product that it spent years labouring behind closed doors to devise. “We’re confident that gamers are going to love our vision of the future, and what we’re going to offer for gaming,” said spokesperson Larry Hryb in an interview with Reddit Games less than five days ago. And yet here we are.
Such dramatic fumbling shows that the Xbox One is out of touch – and it’s not a criticism that’s emerged purely over the past few days. Following the platform’s initial unveiling, many questioned the console’s bizarre emphasis on traditional television consumption in an age where we’re gradually transitioning to on-demand. Sony may be comparatively playing it safe by solely appealing to the core gamer, but at least it’s giving the impression that it believes in its product. Microsoft thought that it was riding into a battle with the likes of Apple and Google at its late May unveiling – and yet it’s been pulled into a clash with its arch-nemesis in the gaming space.
Sony may have lost the opportunity to cheerlead at its competitor’s expense, but it still has a system that it clearly believes in
And that the company’s now been forced to backtrack on a programme that it clearly deemed both suitable and acceptable for consumer consumption shows that Sony shouldn't be too worried at this point in time. These are the kind of blunders that the Japanese giant coveted when it deemed rumble technology a last generation requirement. The difference is, this time they're amplified.
And for that reason, we hope that the mood today was not too subdued in Sony’s regional offices across the globe. What will Microsoft’s massive Xbox One-Eighty mean for the PS4? Very little, we suspect. The company already embarked upon the right path, and while it may have lost the opportunity to cheerlead at its competitor’s expense, it still has the advantage of a system that it’s clearly believed in since its inception. And that should show when the final product deploys on store shelves later this year.
The current story may be the Xbox maker’s change in policies, but the real narrative is the transformation in the respective platform holders. Sony limped into the current generation with a cumbersome and calamitous console against a nimble and hungry competitor. It’s debatable whether the Xbox One’s missteps will ever be considered to be on par with the PS3, but that the comparisons can even be drawn at this stage evidences a role reversal that’s far more fascinating than the removal of DRM.
Do you think that Sony needs to react to the Xbox One’s policy changes, or simply focus on its own vision? Are you surprised by the Japanese giant’s practically flawless approach to the PS4 thus far? Let us know in the comments section below.