With the announcement of a new console just over the horizon, we sit in a pre-dawn light of possibility. With Sony squarely in second place behind Microsoft, they need to really "wow" people in order to make a move to become the console leader again. This post is not meant to be a fanboy rant, nor a Microsoft bashing post. It's simply some ideas I have that might get Sony back in the hunt to become a leader for consoles again.
Sony has already made some moves recently that makes their system more compelling. Most notably is PlayStation Plus. With PS+, subscribers get free games on an almost weekly basis, and it makes MS Gold subscriptions look more and more like a rip off. While MS has actually had the gall to jack up their price by $10 recently without offering a whole lot new or useful (why would I pay money to use Explorer?), Sony has been slowly winning people over by offering a rewarding, worthwhile program, without holding anything back (online play, Netflix access, etc.).
With this momentum, I think Sony is poised to really win people back over to their side, but they really need to set themselves apart...its not going to be enough to simply come out with a new console with better tech specs and graphics. They need functionality that players can only get from them. People are emotionally tied to their Xbox Gamertag and friends list, so Sony needs to really make a compelling argument to get people to switch sides. Here's some things that I think could really make a difference:
First, the no brainers
Offer what the current Xbox 360 currently does - you know the list; cross-game chat, voice messages, automatic trophy synch, etc.
Continue free online play - Sony has always hung their hat on their ability to provide online play for free, and its crucial that they continue this into the next generation. If they buckle and start charging like MS does, there will be little incentive for people to make the switch.
Continue PS+ subs into PS4 - This will most assuredly happen, those of us who have PS+ need to be able to continue our subscriptions into the new PS4 storefront, with freebies and discounts for the early adopters. It will make an argument right off the bat for people to come into the Sony ecosystem.
- PSN ID import - I think this will most definitely happen as well, people have spent years collecting their trophies and are emotionally invested in it. They need to be able to continue that into this console.
- Price - this thing needs to be under $500. Sony stunned a lot of people with sticker shock when they priced the PS3 initially at $600, and they would be foolish to do that again. I've seen rumors pricing this thing at $350, but I don't see them pricing this at anything less than $400. And going over $500 would doom their sales and allow Microsoft to swoop in and offer their console for cheaper. So somewhere between $400-500 seems likely.
These Might Happen Too [RUMORS]
- Native game recording - The rumored "sharing" ability the PS4 might have is brilliant. Constantly recording the previous 15 minutes of gameplay that you can then go back and edit & share is a great feature that I know will attract customers. I know there's been plenty of times I've been in a game of Battlefield 3 and done or seen something amazing, and thought "Man I wish I had that recorded, my friends would love to see that!"
- Controller Touchpad - This seems like it would be pretty easily implemented, especially since the tech already exists on the Vita, but I worry that they would actually be taking away buttons. Battlefield uses the select button for enemy spotting, and the touchpad would have to retain the function of being a reliable button for gameplay, rather than a gimmick. Customers don't want gimmicks.
These Probably Wont Happen, but Would be Nice!
- Offer Steam overlay & cross console MP on PC for certain games - Sony has always had a more "open" philosophy than MS when it comes to their software. Valve and Sony have shown with Portal 2 that they can implement a solid and smooth UI for cross console multiplayer. I realize this might not work for a lot of games, but announcing partnerships with Valve & some other devs to commit to some games having this support will also go a long way with consumers. Remember, MS did not allow this functionality for Portal 2, and Sony can prey on this "closed system" approach and really set themselves apart.
- Backwards Compatibility - I've heard this might be difficult to do based solely on the hardware being so different. Personally, I've never understood people's insistence that the next gen system be backwards compatible. I hardly ever go back a generation once a new one is released, and on the off chance I do, my old system is still sitting there waiting for me to turn it on. That being said, its a popular feature, and one that would certainly help sell the console to people on the fence.
Also, PS4 Games I want to See
Mirror's Edge 2
Battlefield 4 (with 64 player online)
(So, I guess I like DICE...?)
Thanks for looking at my ramblings!