News / PS3 / PS4 / Xbox 360

Historically The PlayStation Brand Has Forced Everyone To Deviate, Or Die

With rumors flying around the web about the possibilities of Microsoft’s next Xbox having a heavier emphasis on the casual side of things and requiring Kinect 2.0 and such.  I decided to look into the past and see if I could see any pattern that could help better predict the future. And to my surprise I stumbled on an interesting trend dating as far back as when the first PlayStation released.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?

 

Round 1

Super Nintendo ControllerGoing into the mid-90s and entering the 5th generation of consoles, Nintendo came in as the Top Dog of the gaming industry with the Super Nintendo having been quite the success story, and with the Sega Genesis being a close second. No one could have predicted that Sony, virtually an unknown in gaming back then, would have turned the industry on its head the way they did with the PlayStation. Sega was first to show their successor to the Genesis and introduced the Sega Saturn to the world in 1994. Followed by the new kid on the block, the PlayStation, and later the Nintendo 64. Things didn’t pan out too well for Sega as they only managed to sell 9.5 million units of the Genesis in 4 years, and discontinued production in 1998. Nintendo on the other hand managed to sell 32.9 million units of their Nintendo 64, placing them a distant 2nd  after Sony’s PlayStation which sold some 100 million units. This was the first time in gaming history that a single console managed to sell 100 million units.  The PlayStation took gaming to new heights as it was well marketed, but also because it had the best variety of games from both first and third-party studios to back it up.

 

Round 2

Sega DreamcastBeing the first one to start the 5th generation of consoles the last time around, Sega again took it upon themselves to start out the 6th one.  They did just that with the Sega Dreamcast, but to disappointing results as the Dreamcast only sold some 10.6 million units in its lifetime though it was considered to be ahead of its time technologically. Sega sadly had to leave the console business and became a software only company.  It had some good games, but it simply couldn’t compete with both the PlayStation and Nintendo brands, plus Microsoft would join the fray with its own Xbox console. For the 6th gen, things played out pretty much the same for Sony with PlayStation 2. Sporting an unmatched library of games and cool features such as the ability to play DVDs and CDs, the PlayStation 2 became the most successful home console of all time.  Nintendo’s Gamecube slid further behind with barely 22 million units sold worldwide.  Microsoft sold some 24 million units of their first console, the Xbox, which is more than Nintendo did with the Gamecube.

Round 3

For 2 generations of consoles, Sony managed to go from one success story to another, becoming synonymous with the term “video games”.  Something that wasn’t lost on either of its competitors in  Nintendo or Microsoft, especially after Sega’s misfortunes.  Something had to be done differently to combat Sony, and Microsoft figured that if they could launch first and employ a similar marketing strategy as the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 had, then they were confident that they could best Sony. So Microsoft did everything in their power to release the XBox 360 in 2005, a full year ahead of the PlayStation 3.  Nintendo on the other hand understood that it was nearly impossible to go toe-to-toe with  the PlayStation brand for the core market, especially with new-comer Microsoft vying for the same customers,  hence they had to use a different approach go after an entirely different market.  Nintendo decided on the Wii approach and the  gamble paid off as the Wii became Nintendo’s best-selling home console ever.  Microsoft’s gamble on the other hand was successful to a degree, as they’ve managed to have an entire year to themselves  on the market as the only 7th generation console out, giving them a nice early install base.  But they, just like Nintendo, would come to the conclusion that the PlayStation brand is still too strong to tackle head on.

Xbox 360 kinectThe PS3 debuted in 2006, and although more expensive than both of its competitors, outsold the Xbox 360 on a yearly basis worldwide. Furthermore, going into 2010 the PS3 had significantly reduced the gap between itself and the XBox 360, (The numbers are; PS2 149.7m, DS 144.59m, Wii 84.64m, PSP 67.1m, 360 50.9m and PS3 47.9m.) Meaning that Microsoft had to do something fast.  In comes Kinect, released on November 4, 2010 with a marketing budget of $500,000,000.00 and treated as a relaunch of the Xbox 360 in order to combat a slump in sales and a surging PS3.  It was clear at that point that  Microsoft, like Nintendo, had realized that it was much easier to create a new market than to go after PlayStation’s established core fan base.  Something that Nintendo themselves realized after spending the previous 2 generations trying to cater to the same audience as Sony’s PlayStation, and watching Sega, their long time rival, bite the dust in the process.  So it’s no wonder that Microsoft as of late seems to be deviating from the core market that it pursued at the start of this generation, and going after something else. Sitting on already established franchises such as Halo, Gears of War, Forza Motorsports and other third-party multi platform games is much less risky for Microsoft than venturing and betting on new IPs and such, something Sony and the PlayStation brand excels at.

So the lesson of the day? From a historical standpoint, no gaming company has been able to stay the course when going up against Sony and its PlayStation brand. Those who’ve tried have either been forced to go after a totally different market (Wii and Xbox 360 Kinect) or faced the prospect of becoming irrelevant in the market (N64, GameCube, Sega Saturn and Dreamcast).  With the announcement of the PS4, it’s pretty clear that Sony is revving the PlayStation brand’s engine and firing on all cylinders.  Something that Microsoft would have been expecting, thus why I kind of understand why Microsoft’s Senior vice-president of  their Interactive Entertainment Business said that they’re changing their focus “from a gaming console, to an entertainment console.” Though something tells me that might just another way of throwing in the towel and  leaving to Caesar what is Caesar’s.  As we speak, Xbox 360 fell behind the PS3 worldwide even after a full year head start and while maintaining a price advantage for the entire generation as well.  Meanwhile Sony is still pumping out games for the PS3 including new IPs such as The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls, while being the number one device used in the world for other things like Netflix.

So What are your thoughts on the matter?  Do you think Microsoft will go for the casual continuing what they started with Kinect? Or do you think that they will have a “core gamer” first approach?

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3 thoughts on “Historically The PlayStation Brand Has Forced Everyone To Deviate, Or Die

  1. This may be in the past, but for the past decade Sony hasn’t forced anything. PC will ALWAYS be there and it was Sony that was forced into its current trajectory because they failed terribly with the PS3, after dominating for 2 console gens. The vita is a massive failure as well.
    Kinect was never about leaving the core market, but expanding to the casual as they already owned the core at that point. The 360 this day also still has a vastly higher attach rate than the PS3 with over 100 million software units in the lead.
    Also, get your facts straight, as the PS3 is still around 1.5 million behind the Xbox 360 according to both companies’ own financial reports. All those sources that were based on that flawed (again) IDC report were proven wrong. Sony also sneakily combines PS2+PS3 and Vita with the PSP to hide the real numbers because they are still behind. According to previous reports and the sales trends, the PS3 is still at a maximum of 74.5 million versus Xbox 360 at 75.9 million units.
    Sony’s userbase was slashed in half this gen and if there is one company that will stay the course against Sony, it will be MS as they can already absolutely destroy Sony financially right now and have far more entertainment contracts.
    With more first party studios than Sony and larger teams, the next Xbox will be something for Sony to fear more next gen than this one.

    • Hi Jack, and thanks for reading the article.

      Let’s see if we get some perspective here. “PC will ALWAYS be there and it was Sony that was forced into its current trajectory because they failed terribly with the PS3, after dominating for 2 console gens. The vita is a massive failure as well.” First of all, this is an article about consoles, so I fail to see the relevance of bringing up the PC or the PS Vita for that matter. PC gamers don’t wait for a new PC to come out every 6-7 years do they? So I’m pretty sure there’s a distinct difference between PC gaming and console gaming. As far as the Vita goes, it is a handheld that is performing way below expectation. Whether or not Sony will cut the price in a similar way to Nintendo and the 3DS, we have yet to find out. But the point is, PS Vita and 3DS are “handhelds”.

      “Kinect was never about leaving the core market, but expanding to the casual as they already owned the core at that point. The 360 this day also still has a vastly higher attach rate than the PS3 with over 100 million software units in the lead.” There’s already a link in the article debunking that already, so I’m not really even going to bother to do it again.

      “Also, get your facts straight, as the PS3 is still around 1.5 million behind the Xbox 360 according to both companies’ own financial reports. All those sources that were based on that flawed (again) IDC report were proven wrong. Sony also sneakily combines PS2+PS3 and Vita with the PSP to hide the real numbers because they are still behind. According to previous reports and the sales trends, the PS3 is still at a maximum of 74.5 million versus Xbox 360 at 75.9 million units.” http://allthingsd.com/20130221/seven-questions-for-sonys-jack-tretton-following-the-playstation-4-event/ <——make sure you read it. And also do a little bit of research and you'll find out that Microsoft and Sony's fiscal year starts at different dates. With Sony's ending March 31 and Microsoft 2 month's later on June 30, giving them 2 months of sale to report.

      And lastly “Sony’s userbase was slashed in half this gen and if there is one company that will stay the course against Sony, it will be MS as they can already absolutely destroy Sony financially right now and have far more entertainment contracts.
      With more first party studios than Sony and larger teams, the next Xbox will be something for Sony to fear more next gen than this one.”
      I hope you know that it took the PS2 13 years to sell 150 million units. The PS3 has sold half that amount in about half the time, but also debuting at double the price of the PS2. So I don’t know how you came to the conclusion that the Sony user base was slashed in half from the previous gen, when they’ve only been on the market for half the time. It doesn’t make much sense now, does it?

      And you think Microsoft has “far more entertainment contracts” then Sony who owns music studios, and movie studios? where are you getting these things from?

  2. Some of this is a bit of a stretch. Your curious exclusion of PS Move completely alters what is fact. Kinect is a result of Nintendo forcing the market to deviate, as is the PS Move. A casual and profitable market was realized by Nintendo, and Sony and Microsoft capitalized on this opportunity.

    Nintendo ultimately changed it’s direction after the Gamecube, not only because of Sony, but because of Microsoft as well. When you have two multi-billion dollar tech companies entering the gaming arena, and with the financial backing that they have, how could a games-only company struggling to remain relevant ever hope to compete? The answer was the Wii.

    There is no doubt of the success and the impact of the Playstation brand. Round 1 and 2 are mostly correct. Microsoft, however, will not “go casual” because they will go where the money is. The core market is alive and well.

    I am a strong supporter of both Sony and Nintendo, and I don’t ignore the impact of Microsoft either. All three have influenced each other in interesting ways. The way you portray Sony as the master of gaming fate is not accurate and very misleading.

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