The PlayStation 4 and Sony’s Console Domination

2017 was another successful year for the ever growing colossus that is the PS4. Not only was the Playstation home to a slew of excellent – exclusive and multiplatform – games it also has continued its staggering sales numbers in hardware sales.

The PS4 is a freight train that has doubled the numbers of its competition, and currently sits at over 70 million units sold in its lifetime. What is most bizarre is that, 4 years after its launch, when console sales usually plateau and begin to see a decline, the PS4 had the best black Friday sale in the company’s history. Sony announced that their 364% increase in profits in 2017 was primarily due to the PS4 and its incredible popularity.

“Consoles are dying”

This was the mentality that Microsoft had when they revealed the Xbox One. By listening to suits and ties, Microsoft spend the majority of their press conferences talking about console functionality – how the Xbox One could watch sports or use Skype – and forgot to focus on what really matters, the games.

Sony on the other hand tried to appeal to the core gamer and showed game after game after game. They used jargon such as; ‘ We care about the gamers’, ‘This is the console for gamers’ and showed the audience that they really meant that with games the audience would resonate with and be interested in.

Things would only get worse for Microsoft at E3 when they essentially shot themselves in the foot. Not only was the Xbox One priced at $500 – the inclusion of the unnecessary Kinect adding $100 to that price tag – Microsoft’s new console was an always online, drm restricted, mess. The creepy Kinect that was always watching, the inability to buy used games, all of that resonated terribly with the consumer and with Sony’s excellent E3 conference, there was little Microsoft could’ve done to undo the damage.

Microsoft did not have the greatest four years in terms of first party output either, and when they did have first party games they ended up being underwhelming, or they were games from franchises that were suffering from sales fatigue. We saw this with Gears of War and, to some extent, Halo 5. In addition, major first party titles, like Cuphead, Crackdown 3 and Scalebound, were shown way too early in the development process, and suffered delay after delay, in the case of Scalebound, full cancellation.

Sony could’ve let Microsoft dig their own grave, and just watched, instead they buried Microsoft under their own mistakes.

Sony has played this console generation masterfully, with their marketing team putting in hard hours to make sure that the console succeeds and continues to grow as an ecosystem. The marketing team was so successful, in fact, that they won (in 2014) an award for best marketing in the industry. Sony managed to secure marketing partnerships and brand deals that would see massive franchises like Call of Duty and Destiny to be timed exclusives to the PS4, whether it would be through DLC timed exclusivity or just the game being marketed with the PS4 in mind.

These deals ensured that the casual consumer associated those games with the PS4 and assumed that they were exclusive to the PS4. The importance of that in the launch of a console, ensures not only excellent sales at launch but it also works to ensure that the console remains relevant through its lifespan.

Perhaps the key to Sony’s success this generation is the quality of the games being released on their platform. That is not to say that previously what was lacking was quality, however, since 2014 the PS4 has had at least one exclusive in the top 5 best reviewed games of the year. An Incredible achievement for Sony’s first party studios and also excellent for the Playstation’s ecosystem longevity.

While exclusives don’t generally mean console success – if we take a look at the PS3 and its lineup of exclusives – Sony’s has made them matter in this generation, people are buying PS4s to play Uncharted and to play Horizon Zero Dawn, having exclusives that sell consoles is huge and while generally each company has one or two, Sony has made strides to ensure that it has several excellent first party titles that will sell units.

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