The secret of PlayStation’s success – Reader’s Feature

A reader looks at what Sony has said so far about its PlayStation 5 plans and lays out why he thinks they’re best placed to win the next gen.

With Sony all but confirming that PlayStation 5 will be released for Christmas 2020, the hype for the next generation is now in full flow. And will be bursting the dam once Microsoft make use of their open stage at E3 in June. Xbox will be going all out in the new gen, Nintendo are on a recent high, and there’s a lot more competition than usual from Google, Apple, and perhaps others. But personally I think Sony are still the easy favourites to ‘win’ the next generation.

I don’t say that out of blind fanboyism but simply that Sony has been doing this for so long now they’ve found a formula and the other companies, being American, have been unable or unwilling to follow it. Now, I’m immediately going to ignore Nintendo for the rest of this features because… they are Nintendo. They don’t care what anyone else does and just do whatever they think is best for themselves. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, and best of luck to them I say.

But Sony have a lot more straightforward approach: they make a powerful console, they have a lot of good quality (or at least good-looking) exclusives, and they leverage their influence to ensure all third parties are on board.

Unlike Nintendo, Microsoft has essentially just tried to copy this approach – which is not a criticism. Their biggest success came with the Xbox 360 and that was simply everything the PlayStation 3 should have been but better. Although for the OG Xbox and Xbox 360 they also had the benefit that they were much better at online than Sony. Xbox Live still is the superior service, in my opinion, but the difference is now much minor.

That’s a problem for Microsoft because it takes away one of their unique selling points, just as PlayStation 4 having backwards compatibility will take away another in the next gen. The problems with the Xbox One are obvious, in that they failed in all three categories: they didn’t have the most powerful console (at first), they had a very poor first party line-up, and they were clearly treated as second best by most third parties.

I’m certain Microsoft won’t make the mistake with power again, although I do think that’s the least important of the three criteria. They’re also clearly trying to rectify the first party problem, although as we’ve seen with Days Gone it only takes one bad game to start soiling a reputation and many more to build it. The question of third parties though is simply a case of other companies following the market leader – they don’t care who it is and they have no loyalty.

Sony does have another benefit here though, in that they have much better links with Japanese companies – in part because the Xbox has never sold well in Japan. And with the country having something of a resurgence this gen that’s a major problem that Microsoft has never come close to solving in all its years in the games industry. Although Google will be even worse off in this regard as they’ll be start from nothing with their relationships with Japanese companies and I’m dubious whether they realise just how important an issue that it is.

The upshot of all this is that Sony has been getting these things right from the beginning and even when it messed up, with the PlayStation 3, it still struggled on to beat the Xbox 360 in worldwide sales anyway. It’s just too entrenched now, that it would need Sony to mess up on a huge scale for anyone else to seriously challenge them.

The difference would be if there was some major game-changing aspect added to games, which you might well say is streaming. And yes, that will inevitably change gaming for ever. But Sony has had PlayStation Now running for years and has plenty of expertise in the concept, so it’s not necessarily behind Microsoft and Google in terms of streaming at all – in terms of practical experience it’s already ahead of them.

Like most gens I will try to buy all consoles eventually, so I’m not trying to stan for Sony here, but I think the formula for their success is so tried and tested now that, even before it’s started, the next gen is theirs for the taking.

By reader Vesta

The reader’s feature does not necessarily represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

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