Digital Polyphony

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Prompt Thoughts: Did Sony Save the Industry?

Posted on July 3, 2013 at 7:40 PM

Did Sony Save the Industry?

Sony didn't dominate E3 simply because of DRM, online connectivity and releasing a console at the very affordable $399 for their Playstation 4 - they won because of a clear philosophy. They no doubt learned a lot of lessons from the PS3, which was far from a failure but had way too many problems coming out of the gate to really fully recover. One of those problems was that nasty $499 / $599 pricetag it slapped on there. The Xbox 360? $399. Yes, they literally switched places with the Xbox One and Playstation 4.

But let's talk hypothetical for a moment. Sony could have easily, easily set the price of the Playstation 4 at a higher price. Of course, thanks to smart architecture they didn't have to, but what if they did? What if we had two new consoles both at 500 bucks? I mean, how do you think gamers are going to react?

Yeah, probalby like this...

In this economy, with so much uncertainty and with the price of games higher than ever, I don't know if the industry could have sustained two new consoles at that price. That's asking a lot of people to really save and make a decision, or even buy both in some cases. 500 to a gamer is a lot, but 400, the price of most new computers/laptops/tablets just falls in line a little better. Now it doesn't look so bad.

Sony's new philosphy gives off a sense of vigor, something that Microsoft had with the 360 and either felt their brand was so big they could dictate to the masses or are completely oblivious ot just how fickle those masses can be. Sony seems to have a clear focus and dierction and desire, for both developers, publishers and gamers, they could (they aren't yet, this is all hypothetical remember) be a torch-bearer. Giving out a consumer-friendly price and clear road is a hell of a way to not only pave a road for the future, but their philosophy towards gamers could be a road that many are happy and willing to walk down. 



Or Did They?

Of course, the big news was Microsoft completely reversing everything they had announced. Yes, we can attribute that to fan outcry, but we can also attribute it to Sony. Who's leading the next generation already and setting the standards? Sony's doing it before a single console is launched.

Or are they? Many analysists believe that Microsoft's end goal was to start lowering the cost of gaming over a period of time for consumers due to their stronger emphasis on digital distribution - an emphasis that was obviously unclear from the get-go because they had some of the worst PR management I've seen since George W. Bush's administration put a "Mission Accomplished" banner on an aircraft carrier.

As "sold" as people are on Sony, the truth is they aren't really changing all that much. It's a model that gaming was going towards anyways, it's just that Sony had the better plan in implementing it. Microsoft, love 'em or hate 'em, were the ones trying to push gaming in a new direction and spending years creating a new business model based on it (to which you can read in detail by a disgrunted former employee none too happy with Microsoft changing the plan).

But Microsoft screwed up. They had a plan. They had ideas. But they had nobody to really relay all that to the gaming populace who doesn't really like change in the first place, they like more of the same only "better." Sony offered the latter right out of the bag, and they sold their vision very well. Microsoft couldn't even spend an entire conference dedicated to their new console and keep things clear, they had to give out press releases like it's the "additional materials required" on an Ikea hutch.

So what'll happen? Ask me in about two years. If the waters begin to dry up and everybody is more concerned about the next ipad game over the next console title, then there's something to worry about. As is, we'll see...but as silly as Microsoft looked in all this, at least they were bold enough to try it and maybe just bold enough to see futher down the road on not necessarily where to go in gaming, but where it needs to go to survive. Otherwise that road you're walking down might just turn in to a sink hole a quater mile over that hill.


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