For most of last-generation, Microsoft and Xbox 360 was defeating Sony and the PlayStation 3 in the “console war,” chiefly because of the PS3’s torrid launch.
But for this generation, Sony turned it around. Helped by Microsoft’s own giant fumbling of the Xbox One launch, the PlayStation 4 was a success out of the gate, and it was this early success and some key moves along the way that have Sony over 80 million units sold and on pace to beat both last-gen systems in sales.
At the heart of Sony's success this generation has been consumer and gamer friendly moves. At launch, it was its focus on games, its lower price-point, and its emphasis on sharing that endeared the gaming community.
As the generation has progressed, Sony has fueled its momentum with an incredible games line-up, that frankly, neither Nintendo or Microsoft can match at the moment, particularly the latter. However, while unit sales are steaming ahead, public opinion has wobbled.
The first time this generation Sony showed any sign of wobbling was when Xbox One announced backward compatibility, and Sony was (and still isn’t) anywhere to be found with a similar announcement. Backwards compatibility was a “for the gamers” type of moment that Microsoft achieved, and a rare occasion this generation where it got the better of its space rival.
The bigger wobble wouldn’t come until more recently though, and it has involved Sony’s unbending position on crossplay. For whatever reason -- most likely because of its favorable market position -- Sony has remained staunch on not exploring crossplay, despite considerable public demand and backlash. Not only has this strengthened Nintendo and Microsoft who have been more than willing to work things out, but it has caused it to suffer a considerable blow in public opinion. It’s a Sony that reminds some people of early PS3-Sony.
You combine this with smaller things like still the inability to change player names, more frequent server issues than the competition, etc., and Sony’s position in the public opinion isn’t nearly as favorable as it was early this generation.
All of that said, Sony Worldwide Studios boss (and crowd favorite among Sony fans), Shuhei Yoshida, recently gave a talk at Develop in Brighton (via Eurogamer), where he talked about PlayStation’s journey. Yoshida touches on every console and the transitions between them. From the early days of the first PlayStation, to the massive success that the PlayStation 2 had (though Yoshida did note that not everything went as it would have liked in hindsight), to the horrible launch of the PlayStation 3, to a return of form with the PlayStation 4.
Yoshida also talked about how Sony won't flub/fumble the transition from PS4 and PS5 like it has in previous generations, noting that the company isn’t perfect, but it won’t forget what got it here.
“It’s human nature,” said Yoshida. “People make mistakes. I don’t know why. We’re all human – we’re not perfect. PS4 is doing so well, but we don’t forget why we’re here now.”0comments
For some, the acknowledgment of Yoshida that Sony hasn’t forgotten what has made it loved by millions upon millions of gamers will be a welcomed sign of things to come. Sony hasn’t had the easiest last 18 months, but the next systems are on the horizon, and the opportunity to smash it out of the park like this generation is for the taking.
Will Sony nail the transition into the PS5? Who knows. The PS5 -- which has yet to be announced (it may not even be called that) -- is rumored to be releasing around 2020, so we may not have to wait too much longer to find out.