For the last decade or so, the Sony Playstation and Microsoft XBox rivalry has riveted gaming enthusiasts. Together, both devices have powered sales in the gaming industry, accounting for more than sixty percent of the console games market that is worth an estimated $27 billion.
In the previous round of this battle, XBox 360 outsold PS3. But, Sony seems to be winning this round with PS4 sales outpacing those of XBox One. Based on figures released by the respective companies, the PS4 has sold more than seven million devices, so far. In comparison, XBox One has sold five million devices.
Four Reasons Why Sony Is Winning The Console War
When Mark Cerny asked him about Sony’s winning formula at the Computer History Museum on stage last week, Shu Yoshida, Sony veteran and president of it’s Worldwide Studios for Sony Computer Entertainment Inc, shied away from the question. “It would have been impolite,” he said later.
During an interview session with me later, however, he outlined four reasons for Sony’s winning strategy against Microsoft.
The first reason is price. At $399, the PS4 is a good hundred dollars cheaper than XBox One. The company is playing off the same strategy used by the Seattle-based giant when XBox 360 was priced lower against its rival.
According to Yoshida, the second reason for PS4’s popularity is the console’s technical superiority against its competitor. Whether it is processor speed or the performance of its graphics card, the PS4 is either identical or outperforms Xbox One on most fronts. The end result of this is an immersive game experience, one that enables design and development of games for diverse audiences. “It (the Sony PS4) is better for people who care about (console) specifications,” says Yoshida.
The Tokyo-based company push to include more independent game developers on the PS4 platform has also contributed to its success, says Yoshida. Although it featured several blockbuster games, PS3 did not attract significant independent developers. This time around, the company is not taking any chances.
Right before the PS4 launch in November, the company invited journalists to preview select titles for the console. The titles were arranged in two rooms and featured games from indie developers such as Jonathan Blow, whose last game was released on Xbox 360, and seasoned studios, such as Guerilla Games.
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Of course, this does not mean that the company has abandoned big studios. Indeed, as Yoshida pointed out during his talk with Cerny, “commercial realities” (or, the economics of the gaming market) are in favor of big studios. This is because game development costs are higher for such studios; as a result, Sony ropes in divisions, such as marketing and business, internally to promote the games. “When we spend $50 million, it is a big bet,” he says.
The final reason for the PS4’s success is Sony’s legacy as a pioneer in the gaming industry. The company reinvented the console gaming market by launching the original Playstation console.in 1994. It has also driven major developments in the industry, whether it is the introduction of new architectures and development of portable consoles to grapple with the industry shift towards mobile. “People like what we are doing from the standpoint of our history,” says Yoshida. “So, they have confidence in our games,”
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