Playstation fans such as myself smiled just a little bit when the Xbox One launched last month, cutting itself off from the hardcore gaming audience and going for an entertainment centre style vision (former Xbox PR, Kat Farminer, walked us through this launch expertly).
I grinned even more when I found out the new console would be revealed for the first time at E3 – one of the flagship gaming events of the calendar. Sony needed bottle to do the full monty in front of such a tough crowd. Thankfully, they left gaming enthusiasts frothing at the mouths.
The new console, to be released officially in December, is $100 cheaper than the Xbox One for starters. Furthermore, it supports the functionality of second hand software, without all the hoops to jump through that Microsoft freely admitted would be required with the One. This will be limited by the decision of the games maker, who are likely to want everyone who plays their game to pay for it, but it’s definitely a step closer to the ideal situation.
In fact, it doesn’t require an internet connection for authentication at all. Here I was, thinking the days of gaming marathons that could only be interrupted by my mum calling me down for tea were over. But alas, apparently if I buy this console and have a game, I can just kind of play it. Is it just me or IS THAT NOT HOW IT’S SUPPOSED TO WORK?
Clinging to the past or turning the tide?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m as in favour of the mobile and online gaming revolution as anybody. I love burning my braincells playing games of any description, regardless of where I am. It can’t be ignored and I understand that consumers nowadays are more needy than ever before.
Console gaming has moved on – it’s amazing that you can play online against your mates who are in another country. Sony isn’t stripping that away, it’s just saying, actually if that’s not your bag you can do whatever the heck you want. A brand that listens to its core audience – are they mad?
The whole second hand gaming thing might seem a small point to some people too. Trading-in, borrowing and selling games isn’t future gazing – people were doing that in the 90s. Well people enjoyed doing it in the 90s.
People still enjoy doing it now. I think it’s awesome that I can update/download a game from my console itself rather than going to a game shop (even though I do miss game shops). But, if my friend already has a game that I want to play, he can just lend it to me or we could play it together. Don’t force change on people that like the status quo too. Give them a choice.
PR hit and run
Basically, I think Sony’s launch has been a PR hit and run. Hit Xbox where it hurts by winning the core gaming audience – you know, the people that actually buy consoles and spend lots of money on games – and run away with the cash.
They had the guts to go to E3, the lions den of game lovers, and that boring looking black box turned out to be the juiciest slab of fresh meat in the gaming world right now. Not only that, but it’s defended a generations worth of principles.
That’s why the audience started cheering. Not because they can seamlessly navigate between steaming videos while ordering a new game from the store while playing their virtual friend in Malaysia in super HD, 3D, Blackpool-illuminations-D. It’s because somebody has listened to their customers, ignored the hype and stood up for what they believe in.
If I’d been there, I’d have cheered too. Santa, if you’re reading this, you know what I want for Christmas.