Handhelds and home consoles: two completely different fish living in harmony within the same pond. They both garner to different audiences, with handhelds appealing to gamers on-the-go and home consoles appealing to the gamer who wants to sit at home in front of their TV and immerse themselves in an amazing experience. In premise, design and physical properties, they are completely different. With that said, how can Sony learn from PlayStation Vita’s launch to hopefully improve the launch of PlayStation 4? Although they are different, the errors made when launching the Vita should give a clear indication to Sony what is required from them when they launch PlayStation 4 this holiday season.
One of the major issues Vita has had since its troubled launch is the constant question, “Where are the games?” Even though the Vita has a great deal of strong titles, not many gamers are going to invest in a new piece of hardware to buy Escape Plan .Though it’s an excellent game, it is no system seller and after Vita unloaded some big named titles on launch day, not enough AAA games have released consistently for gamers to justify the investment. When PlayStation 4 launches, this issue cannot exist. Though Wii U fans are currently dealing with this issue, they know grand titles are on the way. Sony cannot afford to throw all their big name games out the door on launch day. They needs to slowly spread out their releases. If they could release a decent named brand every month for the first year, it be an amazing launch year for Sony.
Imagine Killzone: Shadow Fall, inFAMOUS: Second Son, Diablo 3, Uncharted 4, God of War, Assassin’s Creed 4, Watch_Dogs, the next Call of Duty and Witcher 3. If they could release games of this calibre, excellent titles with an established brand consistently for the first 12 months, maybe even throwing a few other titles out in the 2014 holiday season. PlayStation 4 will never have the question about games become apparent. People want support for their investment and trickling out releases not only helps this problem, but game developers have a greater chance of their games selling between each big name release.
Companies want gamers to know about their new system, so we cannot have the same terrible marketing Sony has offered in the past. Sony needs to come out swinging with commercials, billboards and advertisements on big named websites. People in Australia consistently ask me, “How is the new PSP going?” Knowing the name PlayStation Vita is a small percentage of the public, since the system isn’t sold at major retailers and the marketing plan for Australia was horrible, Sony cannot afford to do this. As the saying goes, you need to spend money to make money, and Sony definitely needs to make money.
Marketing is a key factor when informing the public of a new release, otherwise confusion can occur. Many consumers were confused when Wii U was announced, the fact PlayStation 4 is numbered helps, but more consumer knowledge is never a bad thing.
Marketing is only one form of advertisement. Another is word of mouth and if your system is capable of being as strong as Sony believes, that shouldn’t be a problem. The problem that could be an issue is pricing and I don’t mean the console. I mean the accessories such as the new DualShock 4. The fact we were given a touch-pad instead of a touchscreen is a good sign for the controller‘s final price, but we have seen Sony overcharge on their accessories before (Vita memory cards).
Gamers trying a new system at a friend’s place is a powerful market. Have fun with a friend at their house playing PlayStation 4 and they might have enough fun to be sold on the console, but if controllers are expensive enough where many people only own one, that makes features like Diablo 3’s couch-co-op obsolete. Pricing the console is important, but pricing for everything else the console needs, just as important.
Connecting the PlayStation Experience
During the lead-up to the PlayStation Meeting and the event itself, Sony made it sound like the PlayStation brand was unified. They even made this evident when they expressed their interest in remote-play via the PlayStation 4 and Vita, They want our systems to connect, to talk to each other. When Vita launched, we were left wanting to see our Vita trophies on our PlayStation 3’s. It seemed like an easy feature, but it took them a while to get the feature up and running. This connectivity needs to be working day one and I don’t even mean the Remote-Play functionality. I mean simple ideas many would want to work. For instance, PlayStation 3 users should be seen on your PlayStation 4 friends list, trophies should be seen from previous consoles like PlayStation 3 and Vita all on PlayStation 4. These abilities are not being talked about because many assume it will just be there.
Part of the console experience these days is the social connectivity. If I lose seeing my friends list and trophies except for the grand total, then the online footprint I left with PlayStation will feel empty. If Sony wants to express how their PlayStation brand is connected and unified under the one branch, then these features should be no-brainers. Imagine having PlayStation 4 and your old trophies, friends list and the ability to talk to your friends on PlayStation 3 is missing. That would make the entire unification of PlayStation feel disjointed. Connecting the brand is key.
Though the PlayStation Vita is an exceptional piece of hardware, it struggled out the gate and has never been able to pick itself up. It needs support and Sony should make sure PlayStation 4 never needs to be supported because the support should always be there. If they can set a quality launch, one which impresses us enough to make us forget how they handled Vita’s, they could make the PlayStation 4 set the standard for launching a console.
Next generation is almost here, and Sony needs to seize this opportunity to prove they can successfully launch a brand new console. The PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation Vita might be different beasts, but the failures from Vita’s launch should motivate Sony to lift their game. If they can’t and repeat the same mistakes with PlayStation 4 gamers asking for games, consumers complaining about pricing and more, Sony might not get another chance to pull off a successful launch.