How Will Sony Fall Short of Next-Gen Victory

The PlayStation 4 is at risk of once again becoming a niche product following what will likely be a successful launch.

With the launch of the PS4 and the Xbox One right around the corner the words on the lips of every gamer are akin to, "Who do you think will win next-gen?" Well let me answer that for you: Microsoft. 

**Can't we all just be friends?**

If you go to any hardcore gamer and utter that statement you'll be met with a resounding silence and a facial expression reserved only for the most disturbing of sociopaths. The hardcore have their finger firmly planted on the pulse of the industry; they know what's coming and are prepared to do their research to ascertain the best possible experience. Yet a downfall of the hardcore is that they often forget that the casual and semi-casual market makes up far more of the consumer base. For every hardcore player that preordered a PS4 there are 10 casual players that will see an Xbox One on Black Friday and pick it up on a whim. 

But Why is That?

For those of you who are familiar with my writing, you know that I have a random obsession with how products in the industry are marketed – and let me just say: This all comes down to marketing. 

**Called that number (don't ask) and got Xbox Live tech support.**

Of the two industry giants one markets their products like a Vegas hooker: They show the best stuff, and leave out the fact that the may have herpes (or worse, DRM). The other just doesn’t market – which to the hardcore is seen as humble and appealing, but to everyone else seems like the company isn’t confident or proud of their box.

I guess you can say that Sony only markets to the hardcore, the most loyal of fans for sure, but far from the greatest monetary demographic. Sony’s mission statement is that they are looking to make the best gaming machine ever (PCs excluded). But Microsoft is coming out guns-a-blazin’ fireworks and buzzwords, giving Microsoft access to a market that Sony is by-and-large ignoring. 

**It's a game machine, a DVR, a decoder ring, a washing machine and sock (All in One)**

A Game System (Also Everything Else)

While Sony is touting they’re quintessential gaming machine, Microsoft is saying that they’ve created the perfect storm of any machine ever. Sony is not making a DVR or a cable box; it is 100% a game system.

The Xbox One wants to enter your home and be planted firmly at the center of the living room. It's not just a game box - it's an entertainment powerhouse. Want to watch some T.V.? You can do that. Play a game? Pop right in and have at it. Check the sports scores? Pause the game and tell Kinect - it shall be so. The new Xbox is aiming to replace every box sitting under your television all at once - including your PlayStation. This is a message that will cut right through to the general public; a mass that is always looking for more convenience.

Sony however is saying that the PlayStation 4 is first and foremost a machine made for gamers and game developers of all shapes and sizes (even cubes). The PS4 has easy options for indie developers and development powerhouses alike. Sure, you can watch Netflix and Amazon rentals on the PS4 - but more casual gamers already have all of that on a million devices.

Bringing it Back to Marketing (Sorry Guys)

How many really amazing exclusives can you rattle off for the Xbox?

Halo, Gears, Fable on a good day.

Three.  

**Halo 4 probably outsold all of these combined.**

Sony has dozens, but no one outside of the more religious gamers have heard of them. Sure, everyone knows the name Uncharted – but if you go out on the street and ask a 20-something person if they’ve played any of the Uncharted games I’ll bet well more than half would say no. But anyone that has ever entered a dorm has not only played Halo, they’ve tea-bagged their roommate “Chudz” and “totally fragged this chick on Live.”

Sony spends millions on their first-party games coming out of their 12 privately owned studios, but when the games are nearing completion the average consumer has no idea (The Last of Us being the exception to that rule). Sony just lets their games flop out on to the market and sell meager numbers, when titles like LittleBIGPlanet and inFamous could have sold millions more than they did.

**Farnsworth here wants you to get it together, Sony. Also he wants your food.**

Prove Me Wrong (Please)

Over the past few months I’ve been a big supporter of how Sony has been handling their business as we bravely enter into the upcoming generation. For the most part they’ve been humble, and have made an emphasis on giving the consumer what they want. I pre-ordered a PS4 not because of the extremely marginal step up in power it has compared to the XBO, but because they aren’t treating their supporters as though they are doing us a huge favor by existing. They treat us like clients.

Unfortunately the various fiascos revolving around the Xbox One’s DRM business and forced Kinect will probably not make that much of a difference after the first few months of launch – simply because Microsoft is getting its message out more effectively to a wider audience. Hopefully following TGS Sony will make an epic push to get the word out, but if they don’t they’ll likely fall into a niche market again, similar to the fate of the PS3 and Vita.

But I wasn’t a marketing or e-con major, so what do YOU (yes, you) think? Will Sony come out on top in the long run, or will the company have to enjoy the 4-6 months of supremacy before the Xbox One takes off. Sound off in that comments down below and maybe I’ll sing you a Sony themed lullaby to the tune of Uncharted’s theme – you know what I’m talking about.

Featured Columnist

I am an aspiring video game journalist and a professional awesome person. My words make knowledge parents in your brain that give birth to baby-smiles on your face. You can listen to my podcast by going on iTunes and searching Video Game Podcast Show!

Published Sep. 16th 2013

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