Sony absolutely knocked it out of the park in 2017 – although for some reason the PlayStation 4’s success does feel like it’s been underplayed. Commercially, the console shifted some 10 million units globally in the six month period stretching through the summer to December, while November saw it secure its best ever NPD result in the United States – despite the system being four years old and marching into battle against the heavily hyped Xbox One X and the resurgent Nintendo Switch.

But with the PS4 now working towards its fifth birthday, can it possibly maintain its record setting pace? And what does it need to do to stand out against some of the strongest competition that it’s faced to date? In this article, we’re going to look at five ways the format can keep its nose in front in 2018.

Games, games, games

Sony’s software lineup in 2017 was strong from January through to December, and looking at the release schedule for this year, it’s already shaping up to be a similar story. Things get underway in a matter of days with Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, and, of course, Monster Hunter: World. And if you have any doubts about the rest of the year, then just cast your eyes over our Upcoming PS4 Games in 2018 article – it’s insane.

One thing we’d really like to see this year, though, is for the Japanese giant to put out all of those big first-party blockbusters that it’s been talking about for a couple of years now. While they don’t all have release dates attached, the company’s been fairly clear that we’ll be playing God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Dreams, Days Gone, and Detroit: Become Human in 2018. All of these titles have appeared at multiple pressers over the years, but the time for talk is over – we want these releases in our greedy little hands.

Surprise us

What went wrong with Sony’s press conferences in 2017? Following on from E3 2016 and PSX 2016 was always going to be an impossible ask, but the content that the company showed was still good. The pacing of the pressers – rapid and direct – was also exactly what we’ve been asking for. So why did a lot of people come out of every PlayStation presentation disappointed last year?

It’s because, Ghost of Tsushima aside, the company failed to surprise us. The Last of Us: Part II is looking amazing, but who honestly expected anything less? Marvel’s Spider-Man is going to be a big deal. God of War continues to intrigue. But all of these games are known quantities now – they’ve already had their shock and awe moments. We want to be surprised in 2018. It’s a big ask at this stage in the generation, but Sony’s always done a great job of bringing new and interesting projects to the fore, and long may it continue to do so.

Keep banging the PSVR drum

Sony’s bet on virtual reality seems to be paying off. More and more people are trying the technology now, and the device’s sales have been brisk since release in 2016. More importantly, it feels like PlayStation VR is the start of something major for the manufacturer – an entirely new medium that it’s controlling commercially.

The company’s commitment to PSVR last year suggests that 2018 should be a big one for the fantastical facemask, and as big beaters of the virtual reality drum, that’s all we could really ask for. We want to see the manufacturer continue to flex its muscle in this sector by driving prices down, signing more software, and generally championing what is a genuinely mindblowing new technology.

Bring the PS4’s price down

We were all expecting an official $199 price drop for PS4 in 2017, but it only happened for a few days during Black Friday. It also helped propel Sony to its biggest ever NPD victory, suggesting that the system is going to seriously explode at retail when it hits the aforementioned MSRP for good. Ultimately, the platform holder can put a bow around the generation if it drops the price this year.

With a whopping 70 million units sold as of 7th December, the manufacturer will now be looking at that all-important 100 million units milestone. And frankly, while 2017 was the device’s best-selling year to date, there’s no reason why a price drop and a little game called Red Dead Redemption 2 can’t help the hardware to better that in 2018. Things will have to slow down eventually, of course, but Sony’s still got that $199 ace before the box finally begins to tail off.

Continue to meet fans’ expectations

Fans are the evangelists that help build a brand, so even though the PS4 is by far the best selling system of the generation, it’s important that Sony doesn’t lose the spirit that catapulted the console into this position. That means continuing to work hard to ensure that PlayStation is always the best place to play, whether it’s delivering oft-requested features like PlayStation Network name changes or ensuring the quality of the monthly PlayStation Plus games is always at a decent standard.

All of these things help shape the climate around a console, and as long as word of mouth is positive and people are turning on their PS4s regularly, then that can only mean good things for the Japanese giant’s bottom line.

What do you think Sony needs to do to dominate 2018? Are we on the money with this list, or have we missed something important? Play armchair CEO in the comments section below.