Alex Birlo on July 4, 2019
The Wall Street Journal has recently released an article with some information regarding how SONY is going to treat their next console and how they will be positioning it. The information is based on the words of two anonymous SONY officials and what was recently published or stated officially by the company representatives.
So, what we know from the words of Kenichiro Yoshida (chief executive at Sony) is that they see this next console as a “niche product aimed at hardcore players”. What this might be implying is that they will be strategizing around the values of their core community and how dedicated members of the gaming community see and prefer their content. They will focus on visual fidelity, probably ease of use and content – which is the first-party exclusive lineup and backwards compatibility.
Now, this might be strange to hear that the PlayStation 5 will be a “niche product” – especially after the PS4 became one of the bestselling consoles worldwide – but this makes much more sense when you look back at how Sony always positioned their console. From having their E3 presentations in an opera theatre to the rich portfolio of studios that make critically acclaimed single-player and story focused games. The PlayStation was always targeted towards creating a sense of exclusivity and quality.
Thus it comes as no surprise that they decided to double down their values and stay true to the brand that was built and improved over so many years.
Sony also is planning on shifting their focus to their first-party AAA studios as contrary to their position on the PlayStation 4 where they filled the PSN store with an overwhelming amount of smaller caliber indie games.
And indeed you all must have felt that, when you launch Steam and you are greeted by 10 new indie games – and I am talking about the ones that will be almost instantly forgotten past release – per one AAA game.
Do not get me wrong here, indie development is great and healthy in an industry completely controlled by giant and well-established studios. They provide a “refreshing gust of air” so needed to vary the scenery of modern game releases. The support towards indie games this generation have allowed so much talent to be found and brought into the industry. But when you have Microsoft focusing on acquiring these smaller studios and making them part of their “First-party family” and a saturated market place filled with cheap and meaningless games in-between a couple of actual gems, I cannot blame Sony for trying to differentiate themselves from the rest by pursuing a more “elitist” sort of approach if you will.
They will be positioning the console as such that players will be buying it for the high quality, both visually – hence the 8k resolution and high-definition graphics they focus on – and content wise. Thus the limited resources will be redirected more towards the production of big titles.
One of the officials said that Sony is still pretty much focused on Microsoft and their “Project Scarlett” as their main competition, while Google and their console “Stadia” is considered as mid to long term competition. Because let us face it here, being able to stream our games to any device is an amazing thing – we all would want that – and it is closer than we think, but it is still some time to go until the required technologies and resources will become affordable enough.
Google’s new console is heavily reliant on the users’ personal internet speed connection and quality infrastructure that is far from being implemented in too many places around the world. Google Stadia is not even releasing around the world at the same time. Its implementation will take years and the high price for subscribing and then still buying games for the console for their full price creates a serious barrier for entry and little incentive to gamers, who probably already own a console or a powerful PC and have little desire to jam a AAA game like the “Witcher 3” onto the tiny screen of their phones.
It gets me skeptic regarding the future of the console as it can easily join the shelf alongside other projects Google had started and then lost interest in. Take for example the Google fiber or the Google glasses – it just seems like they start developing something and then drop it because they have not thought through all the costs and potential barriers to implementation. But kudos for trying at least.
As others said before me and as I will repeat their words now – this next generation of consoles will be a good improvement on what we already have with the current consoles. It will not be some kind of mindboggling advance into the future, but it will be a nice step forward in terms of quality, content, and practices with a calm well thought through transition.
The Wall Street Journal article: https://www.wsj.com/articles/sony-positions-next-playstation-for-hard-core-gamers-11561800603