PlayStation’s future looks bleak if Sony doesn’t change its game plan

REVIEW: PlayStation has been the undisputed king of game consoles for the past few years, as long as we’re counting success solely on hardware sales.

Website VGChartz claims that the PS4 sold 115,787,816 units worldwide in August 2021, while the Xbox One failed to ship even half that tally, with a figure of 50,189,746.

the same website claims that the PS5 also has the edge over the Xbox Series X/Series S consoles in terms of sales, with the former shipping 15,276,712 globally so far, and the latter reaching 9,838,177. Of course, the shortage Current GPUs will no doubt cloud the water for those numbers, but it’s still clear that the PlayStation brand is stronger than ever.

The success has been largely attributed to PlayStation’s popularity in Japan, as well as the strong lineup of exclusives over the past decade, with The Last of Us, God of War and Marvel’s Spider-Man receiving accolades. universal.

PS5

But questions are starting to emerge over whether PlayStation can maintain that record of success, especially with Microsoft starting to flex its financial muscle. By acquiring both ZeniMax Media and Activision Blizzard (which would cost $7.5 billion and $70 billion, respectively), Microsoft immediately fixed the Xbox brand’s most glaring flaw: the lack of exclusives.

Just a few years ago, the only major Xbox IPs included Halo, Gears, Forza, Minecraft, and Fable. Now, depending on whether the Activision Blizzard acquisition is complete, Xbox Game Studios may add Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Crash Bandicoot, Diablo, Overwatch, and more to its roster – it has been able to turn his greatest flaw into his greatest strength in just a few years.

That’s not to say PlayStation’s own portfolio isn’t strong. The likes of Naughty Dog and Insomniac have a surprisingly good record in recent years, while Santa Monica Studio and Guerrilla Games have also had great successes. But as impressive as these studios have been in recent years, it would be unfair to expect them to rival the wealth of franchises Microsoft may soon possess.

Call of Duty Vanguard

The Call of Duty series alone is an absolute juggernaut. According to VentureBeat, Call of Duty: Vanguard was the best-selling game of 2021 on PlayStation consoles in the United States. Even more surprisingly, Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War took third place despite launching the previous year. It’s also worth pointing out that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) managed to sneak up the leaderboard with a modest 16th place in sales.

How did Sony’s exclusives fare in comparison? Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales impressed by securing 4th place, but Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart and Ghost of Tsushima could only secure 11th and 8th positions respectively. PlayStation first-party games are certainly popular, but nowhere to the extent of Call of Duty.

There’s no doubt Call of Duty would be a massive loss for PlayStation if Microsoft decided to make the franchise an Xbox exclusive. Bloomberg even suggested that PlayStation took a $20 billion hit to its value following Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

PlayStation console sales may still be very healthy right now, but I’m sure there will be a big swing in Microsoft’s favor once The Elder Scrolls, Call of Duty, Doom, Overwatch, and more. others will start appearing on Xbox consoles as exclusives. . PlayStation’s time at the top may well be coming to an end.

The next step for PlayStation?

So what can PlayStation do in response? I’ve seen a lot of people suggest that Sony should retaliate with its own acquisitions, but it just doesn’t have the same financial strength as Microsoft to do an acquisition on the same scale as Activision Blizzard.

I could personally see Sony acquiring a studio like FromSoftware, especially since they’ve worked together on games like Demon’s Souls and Bloodborne before, but the Souls series is still relatively niche compared to Call of Duty.

There’s also talk that Sony might soon improve PS Now so it can compete with Xbox Game Pass, but I think that’s too little, too late. Sony invests so much money in its first-party games that I really doubt it will make Horizon Forbidden West and God of War Ragnarok available through the service on day one of launch, sacrificing all those sales in favor of more subscribers.

god-of-war-ragnarok

Also, I don’t see why many people would subscribe to PS Now through Game Pass when the latter now has so many top franchises. Sony can no longer rely on more first-party game production than Microsoft, so it must look for new strength.

Rather ironically, Sony is probably looking better at Nintendo for inspiration – the same company that faced similar circumstances when PlayStation forged its way into the games console industry in 1994.

Nintendo hasn’t been able to compete financially with PlayStation and Xbox for the past two decades, meaning its hardware has often fallen behind in terms of specs. And yet, Nintendo has always been able to stay competitive by building on its most popular game franchises (like Mario, Zelda, and Pokémon), while also thinking outside the box by releasing innovative hardware like the Nintendo DS, the Nintendo Wii and the Nintendo Switch. .

nintendo switch

For all of Microsoft’s financial might, the Xbox 360 is its only game console that has managed to crack the top ten best-selling consoles of all time (according to IGN). By comparison, Nintendo has four video game consoles that make the top ten, which is an incredible feat. More money doesn’t necessarily make you a stronger brand.

So right now, yes, PlayStation’s future looks pretty bleak if it continues with the same strategy to take on Xbox. But it’s far from over for Sony, which can still use innovation to offset Microsoft’s financial advantage. The DualSense controller is a great example of innovative design, while the upcoming PSVR 2 headset also looks very promising. Sony needs to continue in this vein if it hopes to remain relevant in gaming for the long term, otherwise it could end up following the same path as Sega instead of Nintendo.

About Jason Zeitler

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