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
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