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.
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.
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.
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.