A lot of flak is given towards Sony’s Playstation 3 and its market share. First, it was the price. Then it was the exclusivity of games. Apparently they can’t even capitalize on the 360s screwups. Either way though, it’s not going to change my mind that the market share eventually will ramp up.
I base my thoughts on a few very important points that has kept Sony alive thus far.
[ PROS ]
Luckily, Sony has done very well with Playstation. PS1 took over as the five hundred pound gorilla back in the day, and the PS2 is still chugging along churning out games and profits like nothing else. Even their portable PSP is finally taking off due to some of the more developed franchises coming to the system such as God of War and Silent Hill.
Strong Third Party Developers
While Nintendo pumps out most of their heavy hitters themselves with in-house brands of Mario, and Zelda, Sony has a strong suite of third party developers and publishers. Square Enix in my opinion is one of the heaviest hitters having stayed alongside Sony for so long and the majority of the Final Fantasy franchise being on the Playstation brand in …well, forever. Even the powerhouse giant Ubisoft isn’t leaving PS3 in the dust. With some very fancy titles showing up in the future, it should definitely be interesting to watch.
Take a look at the latest offerings and tell me that it doesn’t make you drool. With latest in the Metal Gear franchise from Kojima Productions, that’s been a winner ever since they’ve been working on the franchise itself. With the reawakening of the Resident Evil series after the amazing scratch code of RE4…RE5 is supposed to be the next thrill from Capcom. Must we speak of the mega-giant Square Enix? Long since the move from Nintendo to Sony, the Final Fantasy series will be showing another brilliant piece of work. These are some very serious titles which is similar to the delay in amazing third party games for the PSP vs. DS Lite wars. Lately, PSP seems to be ramping up their portfolio with some of the greatness scene on the PS2. That in itself tells you that the scenery is very much alive and kicking and that market share is a slow gainer.
So what has Sony screwed up on that is holding itself back? Well, there’s some weaknesses that I think could actually be improved upon and would definitely help with their current standings.
[ CONS ]
It’s really strange. For some odd reason, the executives at Sony seem to think that because Microsoft went and freaked out and added a huge price on the 360, that they could beat them out on the price and raise it even further. Yet, if you think about your average gamer, you’ll find that while many of us grew up with gaming, there are things more important than spending $400+ on a system. Around $200, people might give in to temptation these days as is with the Nintendo Wii. Affordability is key to how to move product and create market share fast. That’s also why the Wii outsells 360 and PS3, and why the PSP has ate the dust of the DS Lite for a long time. Sony has never understood this, and thus, they take a beating from it.
Home looks like an interesting thing, but they have to launch well. So far, people have been writing in to say that there’s nothing to do on the beta. Is that exactly what impression you want to give to your players that aren’t within the beta? Betas are supposed to be almost finished products, not half-baked ones. This is where the Microsoft shines with their online. They’ve finally figured out that the reason why Asian markets are all about “free MMORPGs” is because the micropayment scheme can really pay off in quantity. What’s a few dollars here and there, but when you build a community of millions of players, that’s millions of dollars. That keeps repeating because it doesn’t hurt the players’ pockets too deeply. That’s something to understand.
A more refined marketplace and movie distribution could really put Sony on the map. But this requires them to refine Home to compete with the already pretty mature online product by Microsoft.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Asian markets are different from North American. Why has the 360 done so well? FPS and sports games. Why does it do so poorly in Asia? FPS and sports games. You can’t deliver the same types of gaming to different regions of the world and expect it to do fabulously. And what’s more is that while RPG and adventure has always been the strong points of the Playstation brand, you need growth outside of that. Believe me, coming from an RPG fan’s perspective, I love your console. But I’m in the minority in the United States. This is just plain fact of market trends.
Another screw up is where Sony keeps preventing the homebrew community from succeeding. Famous PSP homebrew firmware developer, Dark Alex, called it quits after worrying about what legal actions might be taken against him. Yet, many of the “features” that eventually made it into the official firmware were based directly off of the homebrew communities needs. This whole development community is shadowed by the fact that both Microsoft and Nintendo are putting out development tools for average users to create games with on their next-gen consoles. This in itself is supporting community by enabling them to write their own things. This also puts the content in the hands of the users. You never know what diamond in the rough may turn out, much like Geometry Wars.
Needless to say, Sony could improve upon its weak points to actually gain more market share more quickly. But having seen their style of management, they don’t seem to care one way or another on how the US market works, or how they could improve it. They seem to be inspired by their own sales pitches that “it will because our product is awesome” approach. Ick.
But if namesake means anything, it will eventually turn out to be another winner for Sony. Not necessarily overtaking the 360, but definitely a longevity type winner. And believe me… the last thing Sony would want is to have the PS3 be like the ill-fated Sega Dreamcast. So far, I don’t see that happening. But if they keep not paying attention to market needs, the gamers might not be so friendly the next time around.