PS5’s been posting some pretty exceptional sales results recently, and it’s sparked a reductionist form of commentary among enthusiasts. There’s a growing sentiment, much like during the PS4 era, that Sony’s record-breaking sales come down to little more than luck – an observation that obviously ignores all of the exceptional work that’s gone into making PlayStation the powerhouse it is today. Obviously, the platform holder is far from perfect – but just as we’re always eager to criticise, it’s sometimes fair to acknowledge the firm’s strengths as well.
And contrary to common opinion, this isn’t a company resting on its laurels and reaping success regardless. PlayStation has spent decades building brand loyalty, and it’s paying dividends right now. With its stock shortages solved, the PS5 is posting year-over-year sales increases of up to 143 per cent in Europe – and even in competitive regions like the United States, the system is now trending ahead of the PS4 by almost 10 per cent. This is not a fluke, especially when you consider the manufacturer’s nearest new-gen rival, Xbox Series X|S, is struggling – despite an almost-$100 billion acquisition spree and a seemingly loss-leading subscription model.
So, what is the difference? Well, few ever talk about the hard yards Sony has invested over decades to build its brand, and it expands beyond just critically acclaimed software releases (although they’re obviously crucially important as well). A game like Horizon Zero Dawn, for example, has been localised into 20 different languages, many with full voice support; compare this with the recently released Starfield, which supports just nine languages – only five of which include audio. Fellow tentpole first-party Halo Infinite admittedly ups this number of languages to 14, but it’s still far behind PlayStation’s typical offering.
The reality is that PlayStation’s been building a global brand for years, with heavy marketing investment and exceptional localisation. The company has embedded itself in emerging gaming regions like India, the Middle East, and China. Did you know, during the PS3 era, it even published an adaptation of the 2011 Bollywood superhero movie Ra One, and also made several cricket games? These may not have been on the radar of predominantly Western enthusiast forums, but they’ve all helped move the needle.
By contrast, Xbox One famously launched late in so-called Tier 2 countries across Europe and the rest of the world – a misjudgement which may prove to be irreparable for the organisation. Sony’s been late to launch its hardware in select countries before, but it’s never described them as lesser entities. In fact, across the continent it’s gone from strength-to-strength, with its long-running Champions League marketing collaboration being an example of how eager it is to sustain brand awareness.
And its strategy this generation, while first-party software hasn’t been as frequent as fans may have hoped, hasn’t been without risks either. You can debate the merits of the PSVR2 headset all you like, but releasing said hardware isn’t an example of complacency – even smaller projects, like PS Portal, show the company’s commitment to evolving the way we play. PS Plus’ cloud streaming isn’t being talked about, but is arguably better than Microsoft’s oft-discussed solution at the present – and let’s not forget that the firm did respond to the threat of Game Pass, with a service that may not compete on paper, but still offers significant value in its own right.
The underlying takeaway here is that PS5’s success is not a fluke: it’s the culmination of decades of hard work, investment, and innovation. The platform holder is not without its flaws, and it should be criticised appropriately when it makes a mistake – but let’s not be reductionist and pretend PlayStation’s sales are luck. The company’s earned this through years of brand building, and if the competition thinks it’s owed equivalent success, maybe it should consider applying a little more elbow grease first.
What do you think is the secret to PS5’s success as we enter the crucial holiday season? Do you think the console is going to continue posting these exceptional results into 2024, or is its success going to slow as the generation matures? Sell out in the comments section below.