Tuesday, August 12, 2014
PlayStation 4 Will Be Sony’s Saving Grace, Or Path To The Grave

PlayStation 4 Will Be Sony’s Saving Grace, Or Path To The Grave

We didn’t report it here but you must have seen the news: “Sony’s stock lowered to junk status” by major ratings firm”, headlines across the web baited, as the company finds it ever more difficult to shake a downward spiral that’s threatened to death the firm’s core. TVs no longer sell because Samsung’s captured the market. The company’s phones are rubbish, not even coming close to what Apple, HTC and Samsung offer. Its tablets are cult hits, meaning they never sell well – and the Yen’s value keeps rising, an event that does not bode well for Sony because most of its manufacturing capacity is in Japan.

Furthermore, PS Vita, let’s face, has flopped. The console is still selling poorer than, wait for it, the PSP! Gamers just haven’t warmed up to the system as Sony had projected, forcing the firm to lower its overall earnings projection at a time when it simply could not afford to. Ratings board and investors were watching. Sony is dying. Believe me, it took a lot for me to actually type these words, as I’ve been an ardent fan from PlayStation 1 days. The industry would not be the same without the company from the land of the rising sun, and I’ve heard many a gamer say they’d immediately quite gaming if this ever happened. The only question that remains is, can Sony be saved? Can the creator of the Walkman be salvaged? Can the once mighty PlayStation creator find its path to success again? Or is it too late because too many missteps were made? I believe the former is the answer. Yes, I believe Sony can survive its darkest days and shine bright like the star it once was, but in order to do so, a meticulous path must be followed, and that includes keeping its movies division healthy, and making PlayStation 4 the best, most profitable next generation console to date. It is possible.

Failing brands like its TV division must either be dramatically scaled back or killed altogether. The firm must also realize that the markets, since it ran the show back in the 90s, have changed. Sony’s old bosses in Japan have yet to catch up with the reality of it not being a leader in all markets anymore. They still are trying to helm a ship when they should allow new blood, people who understand today’s climate to take the lead. It’s critical, for the survival of the giant, that its old bosses retire. There’s too much bureaucracy at the firm – Sony must lose weight if it wants to survive. But like I said earlier, the movie and PlayStation divisions are the most critical and Sony cannot afford to lose an inch of credibility in either.

Hollywood

Sony owns many a studio in Hollywood, with Sony Pictures being the firm’s main brand there. Hit-after-hit movies have been forged and released, the latest being Skyfall, the new James Bond movie, a flick that’s grossed almost $800 million worldwide since its debut. Big hits in Hollywood are a regular for Sony, and the firm must make sure it continues.

Success in Hollywood also helps the firm’s image, in the light that if Sony can continuously churn out hit-after-hit, then it surely has the potential of replicating said success elsewhere. I believe the most critical “elsewhere” is PlayStation.

PlayStation 4

I believe that PlayStation 4′s success is so critical to Sony, that it either has the potential to help the company rise from the ashes, or become dust in an untimely death. Seriously, PlayStation consoles have always cost billions to produce. It’s not a cheap venture to manufacture a console from start to finish. I’m talking about R&D, finding the right technology, forging partnerships with tech companies for exclusive technology, mass-manufacturing the console and spending hundreds of millions in marketing. It’s never cheap – even so, Sony must make the best console that it’s ever made to survive through 2014-2015. In order to accomplish such a mountainous task, I have a few pointers for the firm.

Charge For PSN

Microsoft has about 30 million people paying $60 to game on Xbox Live every year. That’s the equal of 1.8 billion dollars annually. Sony needs to employ a similar, if not duplicate model and start charging for its veritable online service. Call it PS Plus, a revamped version I suppose, but start charging a quarterly and yearly fee for PlayStation Online. It forces people like me, who never found interest in PS Plus to pay for the service because I game online every day. It would do the same for tens of millions more. Also, if Microsoft can do it, why not Sony?

In fact, I believe Sony has even more rights to do so, as it showers its users with countless exclusive games on a yearly basis. It would also guarantee a stream of reliable profits that could be calculated into the firm’s bottom line when investors meetings are being held, upping their confidence and causing the stock price to rise.

Too Many First Party Studios

Sony has too many game developers that produce nothing but failures. And by failures, I mean games that are probably good, but never sell well. At the end of the day, money is what matters here, and if games like inFamous are struggling to sell 1 million units, why is Sony still investing in the game or the developer? Tough decisions are needed in tough times. Sony should let Sucker Punch loose. There’s no room for failure. Each passing day poses a threat to Sony’s existence; each losing dollar drags down the company’s value further. Forget compassion and remember survival. Kaz Hirai needs to become much tougher.

Make PlayStation 4 With Human, Not Alien Technology

For years Sony’s developed its PlayStation brand on technology not used anywhere else in an effort to stand out as the “true” next generation console. But that hasn’t always worked out, and PS3 was a glaring example. The machine was way too expensive. Developers, in the beginning, hated making games for it, and although it boasted all that stupid stuff, games, most of them, looked identical to their Xbox 360 counterparts. The whole standout effort was for nought, I believe.

The firm must therefore build PS4 on technology that’s powerful, yet easy to develop for. The console still needs to boast next-gen prowess – but at the same time should be of a reasonable price. PS3 cost over $600 at launch, PS4 should cost no more than $350, with a cheaper unit costing $299.

Launch First Or Don’t Launch At All

Sony should not allow Microsoft to upstage it once again, reliving what happened in 2005, when Microsoft forfeited the original Xbox to get a jump on PS3. The PlayStation 4 should be released no later than November 2013, around the same time Xbox 720 will be launched.

Humility

Finally, Sony should lose the arrogance and employ humility. They are no longer leaders in any field, save games and movies. And even in games, a case could be made for Microsoft, an underdog in the early days, jumping ahead of Sony to see Xbox 360 becoming the bestselling console between the two this gen. They should realize that they’ve seen a great fall, one that’s nearly crippled their ability to walk firmly again. Sony should know that it’s now laying in a hospital ER room in critical condition; and the task of successfully performing surgery demands the best surgeons in the world, with no room for error.

About Ernice Gilbert

Ernice Gilbert here. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Gamesthirst. Thanks for stopping by, make yourself at home!
  • Baran Altuncu

    I would like if they redesigned the PS Vita and made it cheaper. Make some 3D just for the fin of it. Although finger-prints would be a bummer.

  • benzo

    I agree with everything you are saying, except letting some of the 1st party studios go. I feel that a shift in their marketing strategy will help boost sales for first party games. Halo, Forza,Kinect games, and third party games are all over the airwaves recently. And all I’ve seen from Sony is a half ass campaign for the terrible terrible Declassified game. Sony needs to allocate more funds to advertise games. A more robust marketing campaign is crucial to the Playstation division. I also believe that Sony needs to narrow their focus on a few consumer products and become leaders there. They have their hands in every type of consumer electronic device on the market. In this current social and economic climate a laser like focus is needed to compete. I have the utmost confidence that Sony will get leaner as a company and eventually rise from this steep fall. It seems like this entire gaming generation Sony has been getting smacked on all fronts. Negativity from fanboys, the press, devs,and consumers. Will all the venom directed at Sony,its credibility and name has taken a hit. The internet holds power, so when 8 out of 10 articles Sony related are doom folks abandon them. I have been nothing but satisfied with all my Sony products purchased in the past 10 yrs and will continue to support them. I am going to look into purchasing some “junk” Sony stock and a sign of confidence in the brand.
    ________________________
    I would just like to point out that since this global recession has taken hold, the biggest and baddest companies in the world have been slammed. The only company that goes against that trend is Apple,but as history shows,they are headed for a fall too. The all powerful MS has fallen on tough times too,but nobody is paying attention to that. Hell even the USA had its credit rating dropped and we are still a country and on the road to recovery.

  • http://www.gamesthirst.com Ernice Gilbert

    @Benzo: All great points, man. I love a fruitful discussion. You are right, Sony has its two hands in about 100 baskets. They’re lost like that. They need, like you said, to focus on a few and do it good.
    -
    And yes, the firm has suffered internet and fanboy rage, but some of it, you must admit, was brought on by non other than themselves. Loads of changes need to be made if Sony wants to succeed, starting at the top.
    -
    And I believe, just like you, that they will.
    -
    On the first-party front I listed Sucker Punch because after two inFamous games that cost millions to develop, not mentioning other costs, the game hardly breaks even. It’s not worth it. Sony needs to be effective in every single way.

  • benzo

    @EG: I agree that some of the rage was self inflicted. Probably close to 50% of it was! As far as Sucker Punch…I still really really feel like a strong ad campaign would have done wonders for sales,but you are indeed correct. First party studios need to poop or get off the pot! Bring in the $$$$ or find the door…but man that hurts to say because Infamous is one of my favorite franchises.
    _
    Vita price drop, PS4 launching at a good price point with comparable dev cost to nxtbox,robust(yep I said robust lol) launch 1st party launch library for PS4, a free game with PS4 systems, and NO MORE SONY PHONES,and spending more than $32 on advertising a game and Sony is back like the flat top hair cut!

  • http://www.gamesthirst.com Ernice Gilbert

    Haha. Agreed. Vita desperately needs a price drop – and PS4′s launch lineup must be stellar.

  • Baran Altuncu

    Still sad at the fact that Studio Liverpool closed down during development of making the next WipEout for the PS4.

    It would have had stellar graphics.

  • Joshua Tompkins

    Infamous 2 sold 1.3 million world wide and that is great for the type of game it is and it is just on one system. Compare it to the only other competition you can compare it too, the prototype series (3.5 million worldwide across all formats) and for xbox, the Crackdown series (2.71 world wide), you will see that the Infamous franchise (3.58) is the best selling game in the genre. And, just because it does not sell 5 million copies, it does not mean that it is not profitable. Sucker Punch is one of Sony’s most creative and best developers. It would be stupid to get rid of them. In reference, the Killzone franchise (which has a much higher development cost) has only sold 1.65 million more than the Infamous franchise this generation (excluding Killzone 1 because it was last gen). I guess Sony should get rid of GG too, since it can’t live up to the sales of its competitors counterparts.

  • http://www.gamesthirst.com Ernice Gilbert

    @Josh: Good points, but those inFamous numbers aren’t strong. Also, Killzone is a much more recognizable brand than inFamous, and 1.65 million more is a strong number. That’s at least $80 million in more revenue for Sony.
    -
    It makes infinitely more sense for Sony to stick with the Killzone brand, as it’s strong, and can help move PS4s. inFamous is yet an unknown, not too strong brand. Sucker are a good dev team, but like some others, they’re a lag on Sony.

  • Joshua Tompkins

    How are they a lag and GG isn’t. The estimated cost of Killzone 2 and 3 combined is $110 while Infamous is $47. The profit margins are not that different. If anything, Killzone’s sales number are worse because it is in the most lucrative genre in gaming, fps. Neither Killzone games reached 3 million world wide. Sony expects more from that franchise, because, as you said, it should be a system seller, but it just seems like the people who bought Killzone 2 where the only that bought Killzone 3. Infamous may not be a big system seller, but neither is Killzone. Infamous is doing what it suppose to do. It has low production cost and good sales numbers, while bringing a few new players.

  • Joshua Tompkins

    I also forgot to put Infamous: Festival of Blood which is the fastest selling psn game of all time. It offered big profits.

  • Mezzo

    Sony’s had the hardware & the games, but the execution was bad. If they can work on that with PS4, i don’t think they’ll have much problem.
    —————–
    They need to get rid of the current XMB and get in a new 1 with PS4, or better yet Put Android in it & see PS4 touch the heights no console has ever touched before.

  • Mezzo

    I have never been a fan of Sucker Punch or any of their work, Before inFamous.
    ——————
    inFamous is easily the best franchise that spawned this generation, yes it is not as strong as Killzone or Uncharted, but if Sony drops either one of inFamous or Sucker Punch. I’ll Honestly Drop Sony.
    ——————
    I rank inFamous 2 higher than Uncharted & Killzone. =]

  • nick

    quite the opposite actually, if $ony wants to hold their place in this industry they have to keep doing what they have done all along.
    they did not turn up as a no name and blow out the biggest name in the industry because they were the simple company!
    playstation survived, and excelled simply because it was always the most advanced home system out there of its time.
    they need to keep that up, if $ony goes ho hum next gen they can kiss their place in this industry goodbye!
    there in the position their in now because they have become so tight a$$ed and greedy!
    ps3 released looked like a sexy diamond.
    piano black finish, chrome, and scratch resistant plastic.
    yea it was expensive, but thats because it looked expensive, it was worth its money!
    now it looks like those cheap chinese knockoffs!
    hell ive only had my super slim a month and it already looks like a tiger has attacked it, and ive never moved it!
    same goes with everything, especially their TVs.
    there use to be a time where $ony made THE best TVs money can buy, and not only that but also very good TVs for their money.
    now the tables have turned, if money is no object there are FAR better manufactures out there to go to!
    hell, $ony even dropped the XBR name!
    thats like Ferrari saying ok were going to drop our name, and call our cars fred from now on.
    XBR is synonymous with high end quality TVs, why the blazing hell would you drop it!?
    $ony are in the shitter for 3 reasons.
    1 they treat their customers like shit.
    2 their products are no where near as well built as they use to be, yet there just as expensive if not more!
    3 stupid decisions like dropping the XBR name, buying studios they shouldent be, selling studios they shouldent be, spending a arm and a leg on games that would of never sold!
    IF they turn all that around next gen then they will be fine, but there too arrogant, there too big headed and egotistical to realize their poor position is of their own doing!
    put short ill go live on the moon if $ony turn themselves around!

  • http://www.gamesthirst.com Ernice Gilbert

    Nick, I disagree with your points saying Sony need to do exactly the same. Especially when previously you’ve claimed they need to change.
    -
    Sony needs to change a lot to survive! How can you even say they need to keep doing exactly the same thing? That’s suicide.

  • nick

    no i dident, i said they need to go back to their old ways of being different thats the only reason they got into the industry in the first place!
    why would anyone buy a playstation if its going to be the ho hum simple console?
    people buy the system, hell stuff playstation, people go to $ony in general for THE BEST electronics available!
    well, did…….

  • http://www.gamesthirst.com Ernice Gilbert

    Dude, the reasons Sony lead in the past cannot be the same reasons why they will lead today. Things have changed drastically.

  • nick

    yup. copy the sheep thats really going to help!
    they need to seperate themselves from the competition, and they have always done that by being the most advanced.
    if there not, than what reason would there be for customers to buy a playstation instead of a xbox, or wiiu, or PC, or what if apple or steam come out with a home console?
    $ony gained their way into the industry by catering to a gap in the market, no one offered a advanced state of the art system.
    and no one still does!

  • ryry36910

    lol, this article is so…. not true.. Sony will never die, they will never go anywhere,