PS5, PS4 Is Losing the SEO War Against Its Rivals 1
Image: Push Square

Ignoring Nintendo and its library of culturally iconic intellectual property, PlayStation dominates the video games industry around the world. PS5, despite missing its lofty forecast, is by far the biggest home console on the planet – and its home to some of the most popular game franchises, both from first-party studios like Naughty Dog and Santa Monica and third-party developers like Rockstar.

The global appeal of Sony’s gaming brand means it tends to rule on social media, too, where its YouTube channel regularly puts up outrageously high views and its Facebook and Twitter accounts attract enormous engagement. However, there’s one area where the Japanese giant is quietly losing the battle against its rivals, and it’s all down to SEO, or search engine optimisation.

While the exact science behind Google results is something of a mystery for even the most qualified web builders, the very real reality is that the PS Store rarely ever tops the rankings when searching for a multiformat game. Take the recently released Skull and Bones, for example: you have to wade past Ubisoft (makes sense), Steam, Epic Games, Amazon, and Xbox before you get to the PS Store listing.

This trend is pretty consistent across most major third-party releases: Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered shows similar results, albeit with replacing the Epic Games Store, where it’s not available; Persona 3 Reload, a game you’d expect to sell best on PlayStation platforms, can’t even get on the first page of results, with even Humble Bundle’s listing outperforming it.

There are exceptions: Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League ranks a little higher, as does Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth. But even if you look at an older game, like the massively popular GTA 5 for example, you’re going to have to scroll for quite some time before you stumble upon the PS Store listing. If you remove the “buy” criteria from your query, you’ll find the PS Store listing nestled behind a digital version of the game’s manual available from the Google Play store.

So, does this matter? Well, it’ll definitely be something drawn up on a white board within PlayStation’s swanky headquarters. Sony will obviously be focused on converting customers already on its website or consoles, but there’s no doubt it should be ranking much better on Google considering the overall popularity of its brand.

The browser-based PS Store, while it has improved over the years, has always felt creaky. There are no screenshots or trailers, for example, of the games available; it doesn’t feel like it presents products in the best possible way. It’s a reminder that, while a lot of the PlayStation business is best-in-class, there are still areas it could significantly improve in order to get the upper-hand on its rivals.