Recent events in which Sony revealed more information including investor relations meetings in Japan have had a few inappropriate but understandable reactions and this article aims to address some of these industry talking points from a market research angle. While many have taken the most honest statement from Sony out of context and ran with it, the fears of its PlayStation brand being put to rest ahead of schedule are largely unfounded and the product of a general misunderstanding of the strategies that were discussed in these meetings.
Money is data, history repeats itself.
Based on data from being the highest selling console maker during three of the last four hardware generations (only defeated last gen by the Nintendo Wii, whereas PS1, PS2, and PS4 have all championed), Sony has observed that a year after hardware sales peak, software sales will peak. This is a crucial time for Sony to take advantage of the hunger for software through giving away great games with PlayStation Plus subscriptions and releasing as many large-scale projects as remain for the PlayStation 4 consoles.
Sony doesn’t expect the PS4 to be different than these past trends in the PlayStation’s history, and thus you can expect for them to focus on making profits through selling games, digital services, and not focusing on bringing new PS4 hardware sales in any further. All this means is that they’ve got the audience already, now they’ll focus on pleasing them so much that they remain loyal to the PlayStation brand for generations to come. At the end of 2017 Sony confirmed 76.3 million units sold. Although profit is made on consoles sold, PlayStation Plus, digital games and software sales, downloadable content, official / licensed accessory sales, and physical game sales are all the focus of PS4 going forward.
While some gamers are reacting negatively to this news, they are perhaps forgetting that the process being talked about here is going to take years. Even Sony themselves don’t expect to be announcing any new hardware until March 2021 according to their own words. This means November 2021 could be the earliest we’d see a new generation debut, meaning that the PS4’s life is only half over and that they’ll now be focused on releasing all of the best games of its generation over the next few years. That’s a good thing.
Misconception and ill-advised complacency.
While rampant rumours about the incorrect prediction of a PlayStation 5 announcement that we found out won’t be happening at E3 2018 after all, some gamers have become on guard against the coming of a new generation of consoles. Unfortunately, some press have taken up to aiding this viewpoint. This was a major problem during the PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360 era which lasted much longer than all previous game generations before it, and yet was fought for by people who didn’t want to buy a PS4 and therefore didn’t want it to exist.
This was a dangerous and reckless shortsighted view from those who failed to grasp just how detrimental of an impact this delay was causing on the quality of video games across all platforms. It caused a massive spike in PC Gaming and ultimately led to doubts within major game development studios about the future of console gaming, which turned out to all be a false notion and damaged further the industry by delaying and destroying the chance for many great games to be made on the back of the largely successful console industry that helps fuel other segments of the market which are harder to profit on.
It cannot be understated how important it is that the gaming industry, which goes hand in hand with the tech industry, continues to evolve at a healthy pace. While amazing games can be made with very few resources, and some of the best indie games of recent times haven’t needed much tech at all to run – that is not always the case. The medium’s standout cinematic titles which shine a beacon of the virtual reality experiences, interactive films, decision-based narratives, and expansive open world capabilities of the games industry are but a few examples of why it’s necessary that we continue to constantly evolve. With the release of the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox ONE X as well as the fact that the current generation of gaming consoles use PC architecture overall, we have reached a healthy balance between generations lasting long enough to be a great investment but also moving on quickly enough to advance the medium.
A brighter tomorrow doesn’t mean a darker today.
The grass is always greener on the other side. Market pundits are quick to settle in with the safety of a stable platform that they can launch predictions on. Convincing gamers that advancements in technology are coming too quickly or that the upgrades from nearly a decade of advancement won’t be noticeable is a disingenuous and irresponsible act that many journalists who are simply out of touch with the reality of the industry continue to commit.
The bigger picture is usually lost in translation between this piggyback of information between the press and the consumer, leading to uncertainty and worry. This is mostly unwarranted as the console giants learn from their mistakes faster than any other tech company around. Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft often lead the way in design choices that many doubt or can’t comprehend until after the success lands. In a world where everyone is afraid of being left behind, and afraid to predict something that doesn’t come true, stagnation is the result.
There are still three to four good years of PlayStation 4 dominance left before we begin to hear about a PlayStation 5 which could take until late 2022 to actually release. Even then, we are looking at the potential for a fully playable library of games that can be carried over from the PS4 to the PS5 with full compatibility between the two systems for friends who don’t have the new machine yet to still join up with their early adopter buddies. This would be a landmark achievement in console design and the first of its kind if it happens. That being said, the titles that Sony has cultivated for the final years of the PS4 being on top are shaping up to not just be good, but actually industry-defining moments in video games history. Most notably, Death Stranding, a game that wouldn’t exist without the help of Sony’s technology and encouragement towards Hideo Kojima after the abusive Konami had all but dismantled Kojima Productions.
What’s left to come remains to be seen. Rumours are certainly a bit out of order and promising too much, but a dedicated graphics card and new operating system would go a long way to changing what it’s like to play video games on a PlayStation alone. Sony deserves praise for turning around a campaign of misinformation which nearly destroyed its brand during the PS3 era and rising back to the top through sheer dedication to the games themselves. Sony is an investor in games studios, a publisher of high quality content, and an enabler of the industry to keep moving forward. And the PlayStation 5 existing almost half of a decade from now does nothing to hurt the incredible experience of the PlayStation 4 that can be had today.