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Opinion: Sony Has Executed Impeccably on PS4's Gamer-Centric Approach

Posted by Sammy Barker

This is for the players

Sony couldn’t have been more in tune with gamers’ demands this year if it invited the entire population of the NeoGAF forums to participate in its daily meetings regarding the PlayStation 4. Ever since it teased the system at the tail-end of January, the Japanese giant has launched a charm offensive on the hearts of hardcore players across the globe. But how has that contributed to the next generation console’s early success, and what does it mean for the platform moving forwards?

Shortly before the North American launch of the system late last week, we posted a recap detailing the build up to the hotly anticipated release. Sifting through the Push Square archives enabled us to look back on some of the key stories from 2013, and we were surprised by just how consistent Sony’s messaging has been. At every point in the platform’s path into players’ hands, the company has reiterated the following pledge: this is for you. And from where we’re sitting, it’s worked like a dream.

Cast your minds back to mid-February and speculation surrounding the firm’s mythical PlayStation Meeting was sky-high. In order to count down to the event itself, the manufacturer sent out video reminders in the form of archive footage recapping memorable moments from previous hardware launches. It tied all of this into a Twitter hashtag, which encouraged gamers to share their memories with the brand. The organisation gave the players a platform, and encouraged them to take centre stage.

Some might label it pandering, but it’s an organic strategy that’s actually worked. No one cringed when Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida did an Antonio Banderas impression during last week’s launch livestream – instead, they laughed. With out-of-touch executives such as Ken Kutaragi and Phil Harrison now stomping the boards elsewhere, the company has not only rediscovered its long lost humility, but also remembered the fanbase that contributed to its success.

Contrast this to Microsoft’s disastrous Xbox One unveiling and the approaches couldn’t be any more disparate. While the Redmond-based firm opted to embarrass itself with a wealth of television-centric demonstrations that isolated its advocates, Sony decided to indulge that part of the market by creating silly videos showing executives goofing around. The platform holder’s perfectly timed used games skit may have carried a larger message, but it also showed a firm having fun with its fans.

And it’s a coordinated strategy that the company’s executed to a tee. While the long-term accomplishments of the next generation console will not be dictated by hardcore gamers alone, the organisation knows that it needs evangelists in order for its newest system to succeed. And while the early adopters may occupy a shrinking percentage of the system’s install base as it matures, it’s those consumers that will play tastemakers throughout the device’s entire life.

It’s for that reason, then, that the firm’s been cunning to key into gaming culture rather than look further afield in the lead up to the PS4’s launch. This strategy won’t resonate quite as strongly when the console reaches its twilight years, but for now its laser-focused approach has ensured that it’s got core players on its side. And it’s those people that will influence their less invested friends’ purchasing decisions when Destiny and Tom Clancy’s The Division roll around next year.

There’s no doubt that Microsoft’s muddled message has played into the firm’s hands, and it couldn’t have pulled off the plan properly without the right executives at its helm – but with one million sales already under its belt and consumer polls swinging strongly in its favour, few could argue that the PlayStation maker has executed in a manner anything less than impeccably over the past ten months or so. Now the challenge shifts to maintaining its lead, as its closest competitor regroups and no doubt prepares to retaliate in a big way.

Do you agree that Sony’s been right to target the PS4 at the hardcore gamer this year? Have you enjoyed its fan-focused approach, or has the spotlight on suits such as Shuhei Yoshida irritated you? Gush or discuss in the comments section and poll below.

Have you enjoyed Sony’s fan-focused approach to PS4? (58 votes)

Yes, I feel like the firm’s built and marketed the system with my needs in mind


I don’t pay attention to the industry nonsense and focus on the games I want to play


No, I’ve cringed more than a couple of times at some of the company’s antics


Please login to vote in this poll.

User Comments (9)



Ps4all said:

Well said Sammy! I can't wait to see you guys lighting up the UK on the Call of Duty multiplayer map next week!!



Spidernoir said:

Yes actually a lot I was quite surprised. It shows they are learning and getting to be more community based this gen.



InsertNameHere said:

2013 has definitely been Sony's biggest year to date. Sure they may have slipped back into unprofitability, but that aside, Sony has made all the right moves when it comes to the PlayStation brand.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without Microsoft. It's almost like Sony had someone on the inside pulling all the strings because every move they made worked to Sony's advantage.

I really like how Sony positioned the PS4 as a developer inspired, gamer focused console. That decision really helped them in the months leading to the PS4's launch and is partly what made it's launch so successful.



Paranoimia said:

I've actually loved the fact that people so high up in the company have actively engaged with the gamers and been willing to show their 'human' side, rather than being a bunch of stuffed shirts.

I laughed out loud watching the Spike launch show when I saw Yoshida and Boyes sitting in bed together playing games. Sure, it may well all be a clever marketing ploy to show that they're "down with the cool kids" or whatever, but at least they're trying something different. It makes sense, too - the console is more 'social', and so are the executives.



divinelite said:

Ps4 is the best thing happened in next gen
Even though to be fair, I saw many great things even greater will be implemented on One (not ready for launch)



Ginkgo said:

Although a couple of the 1st part games have been delayed or a little disappointing, Sony has really built the machine and the road-map that has everyone excited. It is pushing what gamers what and listening and improving all the time. The result is making commentators who said consoles were dead eat their words. it is a marathon, so lets hope the hype and drive continues into 2014 and beyond.



longshot28 said:

I honestly got the same feeling on NOV 15th that I did when I got my first playstation in the 90s... It's awesome.



rykkchii said:

I will cherish that feeling I remember when I got my jap ps1 and turned it on for the first time. I was hoping to recapture that, but realistically I doubt I'll feel the same awe cos I'm older and wiser, and there's not really a killer app like tekken or ridge racer. I may be wrong tho, I'm still stoked for next Friday



grahammartin479 said:

Looking forward to getting my ps4 on Friday but a lot of good work has been tarnished by the ridiculous price of the digital content, which i expected but its just disappointing to see that Sony and ms thin people are stupid enough to pay more for a digital copy of a game. Any one with any sense knows the make more money at a lower price point with digital sales.

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