According to Hiroko Tabuchi from The New York Times, Sony is in the fight for it's life. The company is bleeding money and is struggling to find success in certain templates of the market especially the mobile phone and television markets. Whilst the gaming department of the Japanese giant is steady, there is concern that stern investments are not seeing handsome returns and as common sense will tell you, a business can only breathe so long before life support is turned off.
The recently released Playstation Vita has hardly set the world alight in it's success, despite being a technically efficient piece of hardware with a lot of potential, it seems a lot of targeted consumers would rather spend their portable gaming experience on Vita's rival the Nintendo 3DS or simply though their own mobile phones. The Vita's big brother, Playstation 3, has seen better success although it faces stern competition from the Xbox 360 especially in the western market. Sony are no longer the dominant force it once was and no fanboy flag waving should convince you otherwise.
Sony CEO Kaz Hirai has a major job on his hands and it will very interesting to see which direction the successor to Playstation 3 goes, especially given the constant rumours of the competition's next generation entry and the demands for a new console getting louder by the week within the core gaming community. It is imperative Sony learn from it's mistakes, the PS3 launch was stabbed with constant problems and the company from a marketing perspective did itself no favours at all with a very high price point, patronising the competition which has now bit them on the backside and showing ridiculous arrogance only matched by a small percentage of their fanbase.
The next entry in the Playstation platform needs to get back to basics, something the original Playstation did so well and saw great success. Here is a list of ideas I would like Sony to attempt for the inevitable next generation release.
As mentioned previously, Sony showed a high volume of ridiculous arrogance whilst promoting the Playstation 3, it didn't work as they hoped so a much more straight to the point approach I feel would work better. Instead of patronising the competition with childish, uninformative PR garbage such as "Xbox 1.5" and "Get two jobs" Sony would be much better off showing the potential consumer why they should invest in their machine by actually showing realistic real time gameplay, an approachable price point and sticking to what a console does best ...play games. Drop the codename routine also, "Emotion Engine" and "Cell" need to go, forget the hyperbole in which people could be fooled into thinking the machine is capable of much more than the reality. Keep it simple and effective. Focus on what gamers actually want, to play great games at a good price point.
Xbox Live has been a massive success for Microsoft and all that revenue is something Sony have possibly lost out on. While I admire the stance of keeping online gaming free, there is a feeling amongst many multiplatform gamers they much prefer Live due to it's design and features even if they have to pay a subscription fee. One thing that has to be improved is the feeling of convenience on Sony's network, fanboys especially will tell you the only difference between the two services is cross game chat which is not true, ask someone who takes this stance to send one of their friends a voice message and see how they get on. Xbox Live has a better sense of convenience all around from its design to its features and Sony has to take a serious look at it's online infrastructure with perhaps offering a very viable alternative at a cheaper subscription price with PSN+ an added bonus.
3. Developer Relations
The infamous Playstation 3 dev kit, a piece of equipment found more useful as a paperweight rather than a tool to create games on upon arrival at some developers. This is a simple strategy going forward, Sony needs to provide better tools to developers for their next machine. Building relationships with publishers and developers is a vital element towards success and will not be helped by providing almost alien like toolsets to work on. Sony would benefit by building and collating feedback with the most respected creators in the industry on what they would require going forward into the next generation, kits that would not confuse but provide a strong template to deliver high quality games.
So there you have it, three ideas for Sony to perhaps consider taking forward as we approach a new era of consoles. Do Sony fans agree or disagree and what would you like to see them do to improve upon this generation? Thanks for reading.