Sega stole Sony’s thunder at E3, and the X-Box is just around the corner. Find out the seven things that Sony must do to outshine the competition and get the PS2 buzz back on track.
Sometimes in the entertainment media, we like to make small issues into major happenings. Nowhere is this more true than in the game media. For instance, after Sega surprised us with a phenomenal showing at E3, all of a sudden the company was prematurely crowned the new king of the next-generation console market by many in the press.
Let’s be honest; Sony still has the clearest chance to become the next-generation market leader because of its incredible Japanese launch, unprecedented developer support and unmatched mass-market appeal. However, the PlayStation2 has lost a lot of its shine, thanks to poor showings at the Tokyo Game Show and E3, Sega’s resurgence and unanswered development problems.
So, what must Sony do to get the PS2 hype machine back on track before the October 26 launch? Here are seven things:
Sony must act like a first-timer
Just because you’ve taken market leadership in the past, doesn’t guarantee that you’ll do it in the future. (Just ask Nintendo and Sega.) Sony captured the hearts and minds of gamers with the PlayStation by aggressive marketing and by taking nothing for granted. Gamers will not jump aboard the PS2 simply because they loved the PlayStation. They will always go for the system with the best games.
Example: The original PlayStation ads made it feel cool to own a PlayStation. The PS2 advertising campaign needs to make the new hardware feel cool for a new generation.
Sony must help developers
While the game press has made too much of a deal about Oddsworld Inhabitants’ complaints about anti-aliasing, it is a perfect example of one of the PS2’s biggest problems. The console is very powerful, but accessing that power is not easy. Sony needs to make it a priority to help developers overcome the basic difficulties, and free them up to make great games. After all, this is how the PlayStation beat the Saturn.
Sony should also be researching heavily to find easy ways for developers to tap into the PS2’s enormous power. The more that Sony can do for developers, the more likely the developes will make their games for the PS2.
Example: If Sony does not address the anti-aliasing problems for developers, it will lose some developer support.
Sony must support peripherals with compelling games
Sony announced its plans for a hard drive and network connector for the PS2. However, Sony left out one important thing: the games. Without innovative games that take advantage of peripherals, the add-ons have no value whatsoever. Sony needs to ramp up development for games that take advantage of the hard drive and network add-on before it starts talking about innovative ways to distribute the peripheral.
Example: All Sony needed to say was “this device will support PS2 Everquest or Star Wars Online,” and the peripheral would have been one of the most talked-about announcements at the show.
Sony must champion great games
Even though Sony showed more than 30 PS2 games in its E3 booth, the company simply didn’t show off the PS2’s potential. Konami showed off more of the possibilities the hardware offers by showing one game (Metal Gear Solid 2). People will not buy the PlayStation2 because it is a powerful machine; they’ll buy it because it has the best games. If Sony loses track of the games and focuses instead on broadband possibilities, it runs the risk of making the PS2 another high-priced, unused settop box.
Example: Sony needs to have games like Madden 2001, Metal Gear Solid 2 and Dark Cloud on display in every ad and marketing opportunity.
Sony must tap the power of the PS2 with first-party games
Sony needs to have its best programmers working not only to create great games but also to draw out the potential power of the console. It must be a little embarrassing for Sony to watch Konami bring out the true power of the PS2, while its own games look very similar to Dreamcast titles. Yes, Gran Turismo 2000 will be fun, but it would have been nice if Sony had tried to really push the graphics as well.
Example: Sony could help boost the PS2’s perceived value if its 989 Sports lineup outdoes EA’s impressive game list.
Sony must meet demand
If Sony launches with less than a million PS2 units, it will be a major disappointment. Even at a million, the system will most likely sell out in pre-order, but if fewer PS2s ship, Sony could lose impatient gamers to Sega and overly patient gamers to Microsoft. So far, Sony has treated the marketing of the PS2 with little regard. It’s unlikely they’ll do the same with distribution.
Example: Sony built the foundation for the PS2’s success in Japan with a strong, supported launch.
Sony must regain its aggressiveness
When Sony launched the PlayStation and built it over four years into the most popular home console of all time, the company’s most notable attribute was aggressiveness. During the current prelaunch phase of the PlayStation2, Sony has let both Sega and Microsoft play the part of aggressor and has itself played the part of reactor. Sony needs to take back the reins and dictate to its competitors what happens next.
Example: Sony must aggressively tell gamers why they should spend $150 more for the PS2 and why they shouldn’t wait for the X-Box.