How strange it is to think that in a year where Sony’s secured an unprecedented 20 nominations at The Game Awards and had to revise its sales forecasts due to the continued success of the PlayStation 4 five years into its lifespan, I’m writing about a loss of momentum from the manufacturer. But this is a headline I’m not surprised I’m writing, because I’ve been here before two times already and the point just keeps getting more pertinent: the Japanese giant is far too quiet.
Huge news broke yesterday regarding E3 2019 and the organisation’s decision to skip it entirely, and have we heard a peep from the bigwigs? I can appreciate that the Entertainment Software Association – the body that organises the expo – forced the platform holder’s hand, but it’s hard to have faith in a company that isn’t prepared. Why wasn’t SIEA boss Shawn Layden immediately on the phone to press, answering a few questions about the firm’s decision? One interview would have been enough.
But this is the thing, and I’ve pointed it out before: Sony simply doesn’t do interviews anymore. I used to really enjoy hearing from the execs, because I care about the company and genuinely like learning about its direction. I can’t for the life of me remember the last time we heard from any of the company’s suits, though; I think Shawn Layden did a panel at a Barcelona event, and he’s been on the PlayStation Blogcast a couple of times. There was nothing at E3 2018, or any other events.
Look, I do have some sympathy with the platform holder, because we know how these press conferences tend to go. Expectations rise to astronomical levels, and while PlayStation’s been a victim of its own success to some extent, I get why it wants to avoid letting people down. But it’s doing exactly that by failing to explain its decisions; it takes minutes in this age of social media for the brass to get back to fans on Twitter, but it’s consciously deciding not to do that. Why?
I’m not buying this idea that it has to stay quiet because PlayStation 5 is coming and it’s not quite ready to talk about it yet, because telling fans that it has exciting plans for 2019 is not going to ruin any carefully curated marketing campaign. The same excuses were made of its decision to avoid the press at E3 2018, with cross-console play cited as the culprit. But outside of cross-console play, I wanted to know where the company was at and what it was up to. Instead we got nothing.
And so here we are, a day after the PS4’s anniversary and a week before Thanksgiving, pondering just what PlayStation is up to and why. Let’s be realistic here, with games like God of War and Marvel’s Spider-Man under its umbrella, it’s impossible to argue that the company’s truly lost momentum. There’s absolutely loads on the horizon to look forward to, and I think we can all be pretty certain that a new console is lurking right around the corner.
But I’m still concerned because this isn’t the Sony that delivered the PS4 anymore – I feel like we can all agree on that. The open, inviting PlayStation of 2013 would simply not have allowed this kind of E3 news to break without comment and communication with fans. I understand if Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida, exhausted after an extended stint as makeshift community manager, wants to get back to his day job – but this company simply hasn’t replaced the likes of Adam Boyes and Shahid Ahmad.
I say all this because I care: I want the PlayStation that actually involved us back, and I’m done with this one that brickwalls us. It’s hard to criticise too heavily because Sony continues to deliver year-in, year-out – it’s earned our trust. But it’s spent this year sleepwalking into unforced errors, and it no longer has a public figure around to explain why. Sony’s keeping us at arm’s length, and I just hope for its sake that it’s not a mistake.
Are you equally irritated at Sony’s current lack of communication, or couldn’t you care less? What do you think it’s got in store for 2019, and why do you think it’s being so ridiculously secretive about it all? Would you like to hear more from PlayStation’s executives, or would you prefer to leave them to do their job? Be balanced in the comments section below.