Both PS4 and Xbox One have been on the market for about a year and a half. However, both Sony and Microsoft got the ball rolling by first promoting their systems in the first half of 2013 (about two years ago).
In that time span, Sony’s PS4 has been on cruise control. A combination of poor MS marketing, a more expensive Xbox One $500 bundle, and fewer countries having Xbox Ones. Coupled with PS4’s slightly better multiplatform games and its marketing position of “a gamer’s system” have all combined to give PS4 a sizable lead. At last count in the ballpark of 7 or 8 million consoles. The guesstimate across the internet is PS4 in the low 20 million units sold, while Xbox One is around 13-14 million. Give or take a million for each.
As time passes, PS4 is starting to show its true colours. And it’s not a good thing.
Xbox One Beats PS4 in April 2015 NPD
In early May, the April 2015 NPD report came out. While exact data has to be reverse engineered due to NPD not releasing data anymore, Xbox One actually sold more. In a battle of PR statements, Microsoft stated:
“As the best-selling console in the U.S. in April, fans set record April sales and engagement for Xbox One last month,” Xbox marketing boss Mike Nichols said. “Xbox One console sales in the U.S. increased 63 percent in April 2015 compared to April 2014 and Xbox Live comparisons showed the number of active global users [Xbox One and Xbox 360] grew 24 percent. We are grateful to our fans for their passion and support and are looking forward to sharing more on the best game lineup in Xbox history at E3.”
How to fix it
You can’t fix the past, but you can fix the future. Microsoft systems have been selling quite well despite no key exclusive games so far in 2015. What they have relied on is improving internet PR which is upcoming games and system features, and bundle promos going for about $350, which includes a system and game. The $350 Halo: MCC bundle is their latest offering.
Sony can easily top this.
However, they’ve stood firm on $400 with games bundled in. Regardless of which games are included, that’s still $50 more than Xbox One. People see price first. And some people base their purchase on price no matter what. Some people will do math and factor in the costs of the games and trading them in to get a more accurate “net cost” basis, but some don’t.
Sony doesn’t seem to be promoting key exclusive games yet either. While Microsoft plugs Rise of Tomb Raider, Halo 5 and monthly OS updates, Sony is more concerned with humming along so far in 2015. Although E3 can change that, and we don’t know what Sony has up their sleeve. Sony has to start marketing games and system features more and get back to the PS3 days where their unique games overshadowed endless Forza, Gears and Halo games.
Or they can simply match Xbox One’s $350 and blow it away.
The Shift to Third Party Games and Ancillary Revenue Streams
Sony held an Investors Relation Day 2015, which covered various divisions. Gaming and entertainment included of course. To recap a a previous article that covered the gaming slides in more detail (link here), the summary of the slides is that Playstation gaming will focus on third party games, VR, PS Vue, PS Now, various third party apps and trying to maximize PS Plus subscriptions. There was literally one line about first party games. PS Vita was mentioned solely on the basis of “writing off expenses”.
Add up all the slides and as Sony stated, a key goal is increasing ARPPU. That means increasing the Average Revenue Per Paying User.
Here’s a few slides to give you an idea. But the full PDF is here.
Andrew House during the Investors Relations Day chimed in:
Sony’s PlayStation President, Andrew House, has acknowledged the PS4 first-party lineup of games is looking “a little sparse this year.”
When you have professional slides presented to the industry and an exec supporting the slides saying first party games are thin, it’s not looking good.
How to Fix It
This is a tricky one because if sales is the ultimate goal, and Sony’s stance is maximizing that with various apps and services that are not really gaming related, my suggestion may not be sales related, but more gaming related.
What I mean is if Sony wants more gamers focused on gaming, and they want keep up the “4theplayers” mantra, then release more awesome first party games! Knack, KZ: SF, 1886, MLB, and Infamous aren’t exactly hot picks. TLoU Remastered is a PS3 rehash and the best game Bloodborne is actually a partnership game with From Software. Sony still has tons of internal studios, so where’s all the games?
2015 seems like it will have a dry second half, so the next big game is Uncharted 4 coming in 2016. Even Planetside 2 (which was plugged in 2013) still isn’t out yet.
Another facet they can focus on is more cool features for PS4’s OS. Where? When? Microsoft has monthly updates. It doesn’t seem hard for them to do them, so why can’t Sony?
Sony Vita is on Life Support
Speaking at Sony’s 2015 Investor Relations Day, Sony Computer Entertainment’s President and Global CEO, Andrew House, called the PlayStation Vita a “legacy platform”. Furthermore, Sony’s handheld is not part of the company’s strategy for fiscal year 2015.
This should come as no surprise given Vita’s market performance over the last three years. While Andrew House did indeed acknowledge Japan and Asia as regions where Vita maintains a “strong and vibrant” presence, it hasn’t done anywhere near as well elsewhere. His presentation was also aimed at investors whose expectations must be managed accordingly given Sony Computer Entertainment’s strategy going forward.
How to Fix It
Don’t. Despite what some Sony fans claim, Vita games are drying up and the quality of ports can be lousy anyway. Put it this way, even Call of Duty for Vita (a series that seems to get good reviews no matter what), got crushed in reviews. Dev teams seem to be putting their B or C-team in making Vita games. Or outsourcing them to no-name companies. So what you get is B or C quality.
For sake of propping up PS4 games, all internal and third party companies should just finish off whatever in-progress games they have ready to release on Vita and then move on to PS4 or other platforms. If a dev still wants to make games on the go, make them for smartphones, tablets or 3DS.
Sony has claimed Vita as a “legacy platform”, and the only mention of Vita in their PDF slides has to do with “write-off costs”. So if Sony doesn’t believe in it, you shouldn’t either.
PS4 Ultra Street Fighter 4 is Awful
Despite what you may think, the PS4 version of USF4 was handled by Sony. Sony and Capcom worked together in licensing, but Sony contracted out development to a small studio called Other Ocean Interactive. They are a tiny dev used to making budget games including software like #IDARB.
Seems reasonable if arcade ports of Knights of the Round or Final Fight were headed to PS4, but it’s USF4 we’re talking about. A fighting game. A genre which needs precise controls. A gaming community that demands perfection. A well known franchise that can easily be nitpicked for shoddy quality.
And the game is terrible. Poor responsiveness, buggy visuals and sound, quirky moves and timing, you name it.
And some reason Sony picked Other Ocean Interactive. There is only one reason I see: Sony gambled by choosing a low cost dev in hopes to maximize profit. Sony rolled snake eyes.
The EVO 2015 tournament ditched the PS4 game (which was originally planned as the version to use), yet the PS4 game is so buggy they actually decided to resort to the 360 game. Sony and Capcom partnered for SF5, so PS4 USF4 was chosen. Full credit to EVO for picking a better version despite marketing programs.
We are happy to announce that the Ultra SF4 tournament at Evo 2015 will be played on XBOX 360! #Evo2015
— Joey Cuellar (@MrWiz) May 30, 2015
How to Fix It
Simple. If Capcom wants to outsource it, and Sony lands the deal, make sure to pick a suitable dev to make the game. Or heck, Sony you landed it, so you can also make it yourself. Some games you can get away with hiring amateurs. Beefier games need more established devs to handle it.
You have a wedding to go to. You can go to a dollar store and find a $2 tie. You can go to a department store and buy one for $50. You can also go to Walmart and find one for $20. I think we all know which store Sony went to.