If for Italy June 2 represents a holiday, once so midweek in this terrible two-year period, yesterday we worked hard abroad and more or less important announcements were provided, more or less expected, on the destinies of two of the most popular gaming platforms: PS4 and PS5 . While all in all we can talk about welcome turns and widely expected news, once again in the relationship between Sony and the players something has gone wrong.
Once again, half-mouthed communications came from the upper floors of the Japanese house PlayStation Blog, provided on the best systems which, without irony, should define the strategy for a good part of the generation and on which Sony still does not want to take a single position.
It has never been forgivable and we have always done so, but now – now that we are at stake, now that the consoles are sold in the most disparate (and often overpaid) ways possible and the games are placed in stores with surcharges that are difficult to explain – the ambiguous policy on cross-gen titles and unreachable launch windows is a serious matter to be held accountable to clients you have tried to grab whatever it takes.
The theme of the cross-gen
As long as it served to pump up the demand for PS5, the platform owner did not mention, if not “sideways” and well overshadowed by the bulky mass of the new console, PlayStation 4. Now, also based on
, that the next-gen platform begins to be available and is in an excellent position with sales, from PlayStation Studios comes the revelation: you cannot abandon a userbase of 110 million users.
Stock levels improved greatly for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S in the UK in May. Both platforms did better last month compared with April. PS5 now the no.1 console for the year, with a healthy lead over Nintendo Switch. Xbox also catching up— Christopher Dring (@Chris_Dring) June 1, 2021
Of course, and we’ve been saying this for a long time, the turnaround on the cross-gen issue is excellent news but – given that a version for another console is not born overnight and, indeed, given the times for development there is also the suspicion that PS4 is the reference platform for at least some of the big ones coming out – it would have been correct that consumers had been made aware of it in time, so as to be able to inform their purchase in an informed way.
In between, there was a pandemic that hit hard on the possibility of producing the new consoles and new titles on the one hand, and buying them on the other; the idea of further “lengthening” the life of PlayStation 4 – a more accessible platform, in every sense – is undoubtedly a correct evaluation and in this context they should also be read Play at Home free games which have aimed at increasing its palatability.
The decision itself to throw God of War Ragnarok e Gran Turismo 7, Besides Horizon Forbidden West, cannot be contested because, moreover, it aims to expand the slice of players who will enjoy these highly anticipated (and safe quality) PlayStation titles. But, trivially from a temporal point of view, COVID-19 cannot be the justification for the lack of transparency which seemed scary in general and even more so when compared with Microsoft’s approach.
In summary, it demonstrates that the home of Xbox had the nerve to be clear right away on the issue of cross-generationality, even at the cost of diminishing the technical potential of the new machine in the eyes of the public (who, perhaps legitimately, found themselves confused by the contrast with the message on 12 teraflops) and negatively influencing its possibilities of selling on a day one seen as tempting but not compelling.
The request for PS5 was undeniably driven by the next-gen performances, intended both as very first releases and as media appointments that provided the perspective of the life cycle in (now we can say it) medium and long term; however, the push also came thanks to the rhetoric of exclusives fed on every occasion from the leadership of the Tokyo giant, which not only pressed on the fact that it would have games not usable elsewhere, but shouted from the rooftops that those titles would not be published on PlayStation 4 and that they would be released immediately.
Rightly, on social media, there are those who have allowed themselves to be duped by touts – or, worse, by authorized retailers who have flooded them with bundles at inflated prices – only to not be left behind and now feel fooled by this policy: a knowing it first is one of the most common positions, I would have expected easier availability, controlled prices and above all games that would really require new 500+ euro hardware.
Also on this position, as on events and dates, Sony is doing strategy: he is keeping the cards that will be played from time to time attached to his chest, at his rhythms (not those of E3) and in the comfort zone of his “safe places” – such as the State of Play with the gameplay choreographed and assembled at rule of art, or the posts on PlayStation Blog in which important information must be searched between one line and another on what is not being changed in the focus on Japan and story-driven.
They are business and it is assumed that this is the case, that “strategy” is done: but more than doing it on rivals, now this is the problem, the PlayStation company is doing it on players (and consumers). There is a way and a way to attract users, and this way – albeit for a nuance, so distant from how it was done in the PS4 generation – is placed too boldly on the offside line not to raise controversy.
On the release dates, even worse
When it comes to waiting positions, we cannot fail to mention the aspect of the launch dates. It was well known that Horizon Forbidden West would have waited until the reveal of Halo (and other big autumn ones such as Call of Duty) to place their own date – quite legitimately, in a sense, if we consider that this is a single-player product with a limited life compared to these time-consuming blockbusters.
In yesterday’s post-river starring Hermen Hulst (transcription of a longer podcast), the possibility of a postponement was thrown out in order not to miss anything: it is clear how Sony intends to take up to the last second to assess the competitive environment and the need for a console like PS5 to have another exclusive in a year that is already looming quite satisfying in terms of sales.
But the situation is more complex than this and always refers to the discourse on transparency: COVID or not, Sony has announced a disproportionate number of big first-party titles for 2021, and in most cases we knew that (perhaps) half would come out; obviously, “2021” was used as a decoy, to artificially create a sense of urgency that, it was feared in PlayStation, the first releases and those close to launch would not have built.
“It’s marketing”, is the most common response from the average user, and it obviously goes like this: but it’s of a kind we don’t like because – in a user increasingly aware of the arguments that are made in the button rooms (or at least who thinks they are, living with a wavering attitude between boccaloneria and conspiracy) – has the ambition to pick up every possible player left out of the circle of specialized sites, in which analyzes are carried out and comments are reported from people who dismantle this communication strategy by revealing what it really is. And, data in hand, we know that this segment of consumers is overwhelming.
To make someone believe that in just one year – and in a year stuck in the worst two years we remember since the postwar period – they would have come out Returnal, God of War Ragnarok, Horizon Forbidden West, Destruction All-Stars, Gran Turismo 7 (e Kena Bridge of Spirits, Solar Ash, Stray, Deathloop e Ghostwire, going fishing, omitting some, in the third parties of various sizes) … what do we want to call it? The mid-generation lineup should have been concentrated in a matter of months, with keen observers simply wondering “why?”
Even more serious is that, always in the circle of the specialized press, it has always been known that God of War Ragnarok it wouldn’t be out in 2021 – that teaser didn’t have the slightest credibility and it’s amazing that until June 2nd it was still “scheduled” for this year. So why keep those who are supposed to count the most, the players, in the dark?
Sony has always made bold early reveal a trademark: we are used to not having long dates from them and it must be said that with this type of communication they gave us some of the E3s who knew the most about E3 in history – because, at the cost of anticipating a presentation beyond belief, they did not keep half of it even by mistake and as soon as they were ready they released it (just think of the hat-trick The Last Guardian, Shenmue III e Final Fantasy VII Remake).
But now the question becomes more serious because, in order to push sales – indeed, of increase desirability – of the product, launch windows are provided that are completely unattainable or that, if they were feasible, would in no way be appropriate for a company that certainly would not like to see Horizon e God of War stepping on their toes within a few months.
The point we have reached is very different from the recent past. It is one thing to build the desirability of PS4 by taking it to trade shows “Always the same 3-4 games that will come out in aeons”, because in doing so you are being shown (even with all the glitter of E3) things that can be played no dates. Here with PS5 instead, obviously lacking the raw material and that is the big ones to bring to the fairs, in addition to the fairs themselves – you are building your sales one after the other, anticipating the reveal (again, there is) but inventing very close exit windows for stress your players and push them to retrieve a next-gen console quickly because is about to leave God of War.
It is marketing, of course, but let us say that it is too aggressive and too little virtuous – it being understood that we can always say that God of War Ragnarok he was really aiming for 2021 and that certain things will always remain in the riverbed of speculation. What PlayStation is doing (and what, hats off, it has achieved) however speaks quite clearly and the hope is that, now that it begins to have the comfort of factories and sales figures, it calms down and begins to have more consumer-friendly communication policies than they have been so far.
Sony is a gaming super powerhouse (and more), and has everything it takes to drive gaming. We have already observed how this sly stance of his is motivated by success in the PS4 era and the fact that it must be the pursuers who have something to prove, but see a great brand. lurkare in the shadows when it has the potential to dictate the line it will never stop leaving a bad taste in our mouths.
In short, do it and don’t think of the players as mere customers to grab; you respect them as consumers who, especially these days, have a right to know immediately how things are and not discover them years later – and after the next-gen purchase – in the folds of a blog post.
If you want to recover an exclusive PlayStation console, Horizon Zero Dawn is now available at a bargain price on Amazon