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Posted by SPCTRE

Great piece, thank you Alex. Very succinct summary of my worries re: Sony's Computer Entertainment division.

Edited by Stradimus

While still being relatively fresh to the GiantBomb experience, I am beginning to find that Alex is one of my favorite writers for the site. So to Alex, though you may never see this, thank you for your well thought out work. Very few journalist, bloggers, or writers tend to have a heart or passion in their writings that is also tempered by a fair amount of logic. Solid work on this one and you voiced my thoughts almost to the T.

Edited by Batmeng

Really riding that cynical 800 pound frenzied wild hog hard as it's ripping through the fuck my life-thorn shrubbery of the miserable thoughts of no good things-forest there, Alex. You did make sure to mention Sony's great strenght, their pretty awesome exclusive kitchen of nice video games, in two and a half words there. So I guess I can't really sit here and shake my head to wonder how you managed to make it sound like Sony's efforts to sow their platform with great game content was their equivalent of Friedrich Paulus sending the 6th Army into Stalingrad.

Let's see how Sony manages to get out of this flaming catastrophe of a sun colliding with a fat man having a heart attack in his above ground pool of a mess they're in. Clearly.

Edited by Kosayn

I don't hide that I'm a Sony fan. For any given game, I prefer to play it on a Dual Shock pad, unless it specifically is designed best for mouse and keyboard. Having only the option to use Microsoft button prompts for Steam games still bothers me a fair amount, especially with regards to 'X.'

But as far as loyalty... I bought a PS1 only once I absolutely needed Final Fantasy 7, a PS2 for Silent Hill 2, a PS3 for Demon's Souls, a PSP for Crimson Gem Saga. I don't early adopt anything. I mostly buy used games. I don't like the PSP all that much as an input device either; too flat. I don't use or like the concept of PS+. Or Vita.

To conclude, I'm not the kind of fan Sony needs to compete! I really only get excited about new IP, not their mascots, not the majority of their exclusive franchises, and not their services. That's up to them to improve their brand, I suppose. Sony still hasn't found their Halo.

Posted by bigdaddygamebot

Really enjoyed this. I've been a bit of an ass about Navarro in the past but of late, I am enjoying his work. Good stuff.

Edited by Tom_Shaw

There are only two ways to view this.

It was said on the old site, but there's absolutely a third away to view it: Sony's internal forecasts said the sales would be so terrible that additional ad spending wouldn't increase sales enough to cover said ad spending. Add the overall health of the company, and Sony deciding not to spend massively on lost causes in 2012 is a rational, even optimal, decision.

(I'd also argue with your definition of "much marketing". I saw more ads on TV for All Stars than any other game other than AC3. Now, not many people have my viewing habits (FX's first run shows, and that's it), but there was a significant, if very focused, ad spend for All Stars.)

Yes, the PS4's issues are obvious: despite having the technically superior system, they don't have the pocketbook, studios, or buzz to combat the 720 in NA and the UK (despite MS apparently doing their damnedest to sabotage themselves, as they usually do in conquered markets). But one of the biggest threats hasn't been mentioned much in the west: Japanese non-AAA devs giving up on HD systems in favor of portables and the Wii U.

Even the likes of Atlus put out all of two PS3 games over its lifespan (Catherine and P4A). There still hasn't been even a Monster Hunter or Dragon Quest designed for an HD system. The overwhelming sense is that Japanese devs have declared HD development too rich for their blood, and are bowing out. The real message behind the Nintendo Direct mentions of X, SMT x FE, etc. - "Hey, we actually have games coming out for our system from/in Japan!" - was entirely lost on the western media.

So the real danger is that the PS4's fate in Japan is that it is limited to the hardcore audience for Capcom/Namco/SE/Konami's triple-A projects alone (so overall system sales of, what, 5 million? maybe? in the motherland), they come up well behind the 720 in NA, and they have to rely on Europe alone to keep their heads above water (where they already lost the UK this gen). While everyone is fighting a multi-front war, Sony looks to be losing the most ground on ALL of them.

Posted by GERALTITUDE

Replacement comment, YEAH Alex! Personally, I think Sony messed up too much all those years ago to messup so big again. Maybe the PS4 will be the PS3 we've been waiting for.

Edited by warmonked

honestly Microsoft got lucky when the 360 launched. Sony was making all the mistakes and gave them a opportunity. I don't think that is going to happen again and Sony can take back what they lost in 2006 if they play there cards right. But that is a huge IF.

You don't think Sony's going to make more mistakes but you also think it's unlikely that Sony will play their cards right?

Edited by Aaron_G

Sony has sure made some weird decisions this cycle. I don't think that they can recover from it, I mean, people may have lost faith in buying a Sony console. The one reason I did not get a Vita is that I got a PSP very early on and it turned out to be a worthless purchase. I don't think there were but a handful of releases that made me appreciate my PSP and the Vita looks to heading down the same path.

Posted by Zero_

What the hell happened to all of the comments?

Posted by switters

I spent way to much time commenting on this story Sunday just to have everything deleted. First world problems are a real bitch. Probably for the better.

I'm going to go read a book. Love the new digs GiantBomb

Posted by Madyew

On a personal level, what's kept the 360 as my go-to home console is the party and chat features. There's just a greater sense of community and interaction. IMO, at least.

Posted by CZYjoeDAVOLA

honestly Microsoft got lucky when the 360 launched. Sony was making all the mistakes and gave them a opportunity. I don't think that is going to happen again and Sony can take back what they lost in 2006 if they play there cards right. But that is a huge IF.

Posted by Alex

One way or another, February 20th will be remembered as an important day in the legacy of the PlayStation brand. As we have been oft-reminded by every single news writer in the industry for the last few weeks, this is the day that Sony will presumably unveil the PlayStation 4, the culmination of years of work and the earnest beginning of the next generation of consoles. For all of you about to dive into the comments section with some variation on the old "BUT WHAT ABOUT THE WII U" protest, don't bother. We're not having this conversation right now.

There is, of course, the smallest of small chances that the upcoming press event isn't about Sony's next console, but that in and of itself would be memorable, if only for the sheer volume of crestfallen faces we'll see immediately afterward. To not unveil the PS4 now would be tantamount to admitting Sony is nowhere near ready to show what it has, and by all accounts, that doesn't seem likely. So having acknowledged such a slim-to-nil possibility, let's now move on and talk about what we're likely going to see.

We don't write console rumors as proper news stories around here, usually for a variety of reasons. For one, even in the most seemingly accurate circumstances, the rumors are often based on spec or development hardware, which is often being revised as development goes along. Two, save for those rarified situations where people seemingly have good, solid intel, most other console rumors are Grade A horseshit.

All of that said, we're close enough now to the probable announcement that the stockpile of recent rumors probably at least holds something close to the truth. Here's a quick once over of what we sort of maybe possibly almost know so far.

It will likely be quite powerful, though that won't necessarily be the focus. Multiple rumors have placed the system's processor (at least at the current devkit level) as being a 4x Dual-Core AMD64 "Bulldozer," with an AMD R10xx GPU, 8GB of system memory, and 2.2 gigs of video memory. Technical specs give me migraines, so you'll forgive me if I don't spend more time trying to break down what all of that means. Suffice it to say, it will have some horsepower. However, as we saw with the PlayStation 3, sheer horsepower does not a successful console make. The PS3 has never captured the level of worldwide ubiquity achieved by its two predecessors, partially due to a mixture of cost, various examples of shoddy or lackluster marketing, and strong competition from Microsoft (and, for a time, Nintendo). So with the PS4, there's going to have to be something else, some other key factor that can bring wayward players into the fold. Such as...

A controller that features a touch-pad, more flexible user account signing, new media device connection capabilities, and a partridge in a pear tree. Of all the crazy hardware rumors out there, this is the least crazy-sounding thing I've heard. A PlayStation controller with touch-pad functionality just makes a hell of a lot of sense. The Vita may have, in some respects, simply been a test-marketing campaign for people's interest in such tech. Keep in mind that nobody's saying the PS4 will have a straight-up front touch screen, but more likely something akin to the rear touch pad. Again, this is all speculative, but it all seems likely. Elsewhere, we have what will likely be a new system for allowing multiple users to sign into accounts, and a bit of bandying over the idea that the PS4 will connect to a variety of handheld devices, making the system more of a definitive living room "media hub."

All of that sounds really great, except for one key detail...

It's probably going to be fairly expensive. No, not $600 expensive, but probably north of the $400 range, at least in Japan. Yen-to-dollar transitions in price are rarely 1-to-1, but $399 for a new base-model console from Sony doesn't sound outrageous. Pricey, but not completely insane. Of course, there's still plenty of room for them to jack up that price for more premium models.

There are other ideas being kicked around as well, but these are the most persistent, most constant of rumors, the ones that seem most likely to come to fruition in some capacity. I won't presume to say without having even seen the console whether it has any chance of success, but based on what I've read thus far, I think the hardware sounds like it could be very cool.

But is that going to be enough for Sony? Probably not. After all, the Vita, which is also unquestionably a very cool piece of hardware, has not made much impact at retail since it launched in the US last year. So much of that can be easily attributed to a lack of proper marketing for the device, not to mention a dearth (but not total lack) of quality games for the system. There are good games for the Vita, but none of them have been pushed the way, say, a Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified has been. In fact, apart from that wretched game, I can't remember the last time I saw an ad for anything related to the Vita anywhere.

This is what worries me most about the PlayStation 4. Not the specs, not the price, not even the games, necessarily. I'm just not convinced Sony has its shit together enough to promote this thing properly.

Actually, to digress for a second, I am a tad worried about the games as well. It's not that I don't trust such Sony luminaries as Naughty Dog, Guerrilla, and Santa Monica studio to offer up entertaining, blockbuster experiences that will almost assuredly be ready for the system's launch window. And I expect there will be several games from smaller indie devs as well--after all, for all of Sony's missteps during this generation, one of its greatest strengths has been its courting of interesting independent games for the PlayStation Network store.

But beyond those big names and a few small studios, I don't really know what else Sony has to work with these days. The last couple of years has seen Sony shutter or cut ties with numerous studios. Internally, S.O.C.O.M. developers Zipper Interactive, Pursuit Force and Little Deviants dev BigBig Studios, and WipeOut franchise runners Sony Liverpool have been closed. And then there are the third-party devs, like Eat Sleep Play (Twisted Metal), Sanzaru (Sly Collection, Sly 4), The Workshop (Sorcery), Lightbox (Starhawk) and SuperBot Entertainment (PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale). Each of those studios has produced (or was at least in the process of producing) a major game for Sony, and in each case, said game was sent off to retail without much marketing behind it. And in several of those cases, Sony has cut ties with the studios following those games' underperforming at retail.

That's about as hostile a potential working relationship for any developer as I can picture. Sure, publishers close or cancel contracts with developers all the time, but Sony has practically made it habitual. In some cases, like Twisted Metal and Sorcery, it's likely that Sony simply didn't have a lot of confidence in those games. But titles like Battle Royale, Starhawk, and Sly 4 have never seen a great deal of negative press, nor was there anything to suggest that Sony had misgivings about their development. Hell, PlayStation All-Stars was practically Sony's only major holiday release last year. And yet, like so many other recent Sony-published games, it was shuffled off to retail with no fan fare, no significant marketing campaign, and no indication that anyone at Sony even really cared all that much.

Then again, it'd be hard to share such feelings given that much of Sony's PR team was gutted before the holiday season even began.

Following every major sports season, you can always tell which teams are about to begin a "rebuilding phase" by how fast and furious the firings come. Older players with expensive contracts are often jettisoned as the team begins gathering funds and resources to try and rebuild itself through the draft and farm talent. I mention this because it feels for like the last year or so, Sony's been jettisoning expenses in preparation of what's to come with the PlayStation 4. Except that instead of just letting old contracts expire and cutting a few chunks of fat, it's been passively letting every major PlayStation 3 and/or Vita game wander onto the field and get beaten half to death without providing any support whatsoever. Games like Journey have certainly managed to gain attention, but only through rabid support by the press and extremely positive word-of-mouth from fans. From a marketing standpoint, Journey's success was practically a work of divine intervention.

There are only two ways to view this. Either Sony is hoarding money and resources for a massive, blitzkrieg marketing assault starting around E3 and culminating with the system's launch (maybe) this holiday, or Sony has simply lost any sense of direction, drive, or enthusiasm for its own game division, and simply doesn't have the confidence necessary to push a new console into the marketplace with the proper support it requires.

Make me believe, Sony. Specifically, make me believe that you actually have a viable marketing plan for this damned console of yours.

Truthfully, I believe the former far more than I would believe the latter. This has been a supremely weird closeout to the PlayStation 3 era, and the Vita's unceremonious dumping at retail certainly hasn't given anyone the impression Sony really cares all that much these days about its own welfare in the marketplace. But a new console generation is something different. This is Sony's potential opportunity to wipe the slate clean and go balls-out crazy on the next Xbox. This is their chance to make a wholly compelling argument for why people should make Sony's all-purpose gaming and media box the logical and exciting choice. That's incredibly important, because if any of the more interesting Durango rumors hold true, they'll have to be extremely convincing to drive market share away from Microsoft. Changing perceptions can be an enormously difficult thing, but when everybody's got a new machine to shill, all bets are off.

Especially in a generation that some industry prognosticators are deeming the last of the home console dinosaurs. I don't necessarily believe that, but I wouldn't dismiss such a claim, either. So many things could go so very, very wrong this gen that in a worst-case scenario, I could easily this being the last time we, as an industry, collectively go crazy over a slate of shiny new boxes to play with.

You hear that, Sony? This is quite possibly your last legitimate chance to impress the world with your home hardware, and take back the crown of the most played console brand of the market. In the parlance of one of my favorite shows on television, RuPaul's Drag Race, Microsoft and Sony are about to lip sync for their lives, and right now, we don't even know if Sony will be able to remember the words.

I guess all that's left to say to Sony is good luck. Oh, and don't fuck it up.

--A