We’ve somehow lurched into 2014 without a nuclear disaster or some other life-ending apocalyptic event, so that means that it’s time to make resolutions for the future. While the majority of the planet ponders whether it should finally stump up for an expensive gym membership, the arrival of a New Year can also provide perspectives for organisations both big and small as they aim to capitalise upon their successes from the past twelve months, and simultaneously learn from their shortcomings. But what should be at the top of the agenda for Sony’s popular PlayStation division?
Few would argue that it’s been a good year for Andrew House’s band of SCE servants. The platform holder got off to a strong start in February with the overwhelmingly positive response to the PlayStation 4’s announcement, and followed that up with the launch of Naughty Dog’s critically acclaimed survival horror opus The Last of Us and Jack Tretton’s infamous E3 smackdown. It ended 2013 on a high, too, announcing that its latest console is the fastest selling format ever made – despite some creative mathematics to the contrary from Microsoft. All of that puts the organisation in an exciting position for the months ahead – especially seeing as it spent so much of the PlayStation 3 generation chasing the shadows of its competitors.
As a result, it could be argued that the manufacturer doesn’t really need to do anything differently in the New Year, as it continues to lap up the goodwill that it’s accrued in the period prior. However, we don’t necessarily agree. While we’re ecstatic with the outward image that the platform holder’s projecting at the minute, we think that it would be foolish for it to twiddle its thumbs. In fact, now that it’s worked an advantage in the next-gen console race, we think that it’s even more important that it keeps its foot on the gas.
It can’t be easy to maintain that momentum. When you’re an underdog, it’s much easier to go the extra mile in pursuit of success. Every minor victory feels like a cause for celebration, and we’re sure that there was plenty of fist-pumping around Sony headquarters when pre-order numbers for the PS4 started to come to light. However, that novelty won’t last forever, and there’s a danger that the company could take the unprecedented success of the past twelve months for granted now that it finds itself ahead. That’s a risky mentality to adopt.
The reality is that neither of its competitors are going to let the current situation persist without a fight. Microsoft may have made a number of errors with the Xbox One, but it has taken measures to steady its ship and is still in a decent position as a result. The sales figures for the Redmond-based firm’s maligned device may not be as impressive as the PS4, but they’re still respectable in their own right. And the manufacturer arguably has a stronger release schedule ahead of it, with the hotly anticipated Titanfall and a new Halo title right around the corner.
Meanwhile, no one should ever underestimate Nintendo. It’s true that the Wii U has struggled to make the impact that the Japanese company perhaps expected around the time of the system’s launch, but the firm is no stranger to exceptional comebacks, as evidenced by the outrageous success of the 3DS – a system that was once dubbed a failure, too. Furthermore, there have been signs in the wake of the release of the outstanding Super Mario 3D World that the system’s fortunes are beginning to improve in its home nation, and it still has even bigger releases waiting in the wings.
These all present very real threats to the PS4’s future success, and Sony must avoid complacency in the New Year as a consequence. The last time that the company was the market leader, it bumbled from one public relations disaster to the next, with the overengineered PS3 almost bankrupting the firm in the process. We don’t think that there’s any danger of that with the division under the watchful eye of Andrew House, Shuhei Yoshida, and externally employed architect Mark Cerny, but the threat is there all the same.
And it’s not like all of Sony’s systems are runaway successes at the second either. Former group president Kaz Hirai may have resurrected its former flagship format’s fortunes, but it still finds itself the second choice budget platform in many parts of the world. Meanwhile, the PlayStation Vita may be adored by the handful of gamers that actually own it, but even a sizeable price cut has failed to resurrect the pocketable platform’s dismal fortunes. Worse still, we’re not entirely convinced that the handheld’s ability to interface with its home console counterpart will help to enhance its poor position in the marketplace.
Of course, all of that doesn’t mean that the firm’s not in a strong position, but it reinforces the idea that it still has plenty of work ahead. The most promising thing about PlayStation’s position in 2014 is that it feels like it’s turned a corner. While the brand earned its earlier successes from being an interactive entertainment leader, there were times during the previous generation where it felt like it was merely closing the gap. However, the company now has the opportunity to once again take charge and set the pace of the coming console cycle. We just hope that it doesn’t sit back and let its competitors close the gap while it takes its eye off the dominant platform prize.
What do you think that Sony could do better in 2014, and do you have any worries regarding the state of the brand as we start the New Year? Is there anything that you think that the company could do better after an incredibly successful 2013, or do you reckon that it’s hitting all the right notes? Post your appraisal in the comments section below.
What would you most like to see Sony do in 2014? (48 votes)
Announce lots more big exclusive games for all of its systems
Work with external publishers to secure more third-party content
Improve the marketing surrounding its software and machines
Honestly, I’d just like the platform holder to offer more of the same
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