PS4 Pro Uniformity
One of the big moves that Sony needs to make soon is in regards to the recently released PS4 Pro. For those who have no idea what that is, it’s essentially a more powerful PS4 that offers developers greater options when it comes to fine-tuning their games, such as better load times, smoother framerates, and even up to 4K resolutions among other things. The issue is that not many developers have been putting this new power to use, leaving the PS4 Pro feeling simply like a more expensive, standard PS4. That’s not to say that no studio has wielded the power; Sony’s own first-party studios have shown what the box can do with Ratchet & Clank and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. However, it’s the wild west when it comes to third parties and indies.
Perhaps Sony could provide resources to help smaller studios utilize the new technology. Or, they can make the capabilities of the machine clearer to developers and provide incentives to utilize the power, providing a more uniform delivery of games on the platform. Whatever plan they move forward with, making the PS4 Pro a decidedly better option is a must if they want to make it as successful as the standard PS4.
Don’t Let the PSVR Go the Way of the Vita
Speaking of new technology, there’s also a big mistake that Sony can make this year, one that fans are legitimately worried about – letting the PSVR fail. The PSVR isn’t the first time that the company has released promising hardware. Go back a few years and you’ll see the launch of the Vita, a powerful handheld console capable of amazing visuals, able to be connected to the PS3 (and the PS4 later on), and having full controls including a touch pad and touch screen. It was the perfect piece of hardware, yet a lack of support here in the west left the device as the poster child for how not to handle new hardware.
The PSVR is a great piece of hardware as well. It’s the most affordable premium VR headset on the market, has some fun games already, and is doing pretty well in sales. However, something as finicky as new technology (we’re still at the beginning of VR) needs constant support and advertising to ensure that consumers know what it is and why they should get one. It’s not a device that Sony can just put out and hope people buy, it’s going to take a lot of legwork to really get it out there in the coming months.
One thing that has helped Sony sell consoles in the past has been the company’s ability to make strong partnerships. If it wasn’t for Square Enix and Rockstar the PS2 might have been a very different console. We’ve already seen proof of partnerships being good moves for Sony with the PS4. 2015 was light on first-party releases for the console, but strong third-party support helped to keep the hardware in the lead throughout the year.
It’s no secret that third-party multiplatform games help to bolster any lineup, but when sharing with other consoles it adds another level of competition that can complicate things. However, going for exclusivity deals pushes the attention to you alone. Microsoft and Sony have both made good use of this strategy over the past couple of years, and the PlayStation manufacturer is in the position to do even more thanks to its popularity overseas. Forming more of these strong bonds ahead of the release of the Nintendo Switch and Project Scorpio could help keep the PlayStation ecosystem stable while the competition ramps up.
Keep to the 2017 Schedule
2017 is looking mighty fine for the PS4 release schedule, and it gets even more interesting when you single out the exclusives. However, Sony has been known to suffer from delays quite often. While delays are nothing new to game development, they do tend to rub fans the wrong way for a few reasons. For starters, it’s often one or two highly anticipated games that make someone purchase a console in excitement. When more time goes on and the game doesn’t release it’s completely understandable to feel swindled. Another issue is that hype dies, leaving fans to lose interest in an announcement.
Sony can’t afford to have any of its major games slip out of the next 12 months. They are facing stiff competition starting in the spring with Nintendo’s Switch and then again in the holiday season as Microsoft pushes out Project Scorpio. Losing major software to another year can set them back as all these other exciting prospects begin to pop up.
Be the Center of Destiny 2
When Destiny was first revealed, not many knew what to make of it. Yes, it was a brand new shooter from the developers that brought us Halo, and yes they were making some big promises about a grand story and a shared world. What many may not have realized about its reveal, though, is that Sony was being very strategic about having Bungie, a company known for creating the Xbox’s flagship franchise, present their new game on the PlayStation stage. That game would go on to help sell a ton of PS4 consoles, as well as create a phenomenon with millions of players.
Even with all of its initial shortcomings, the ability to adapt and grow that was exhibited by Bungie made Destiny one of the biggest games of the current generation and thanks to some intelligent content exclusivity deals, Sony has reaped a lot of the benefits of that popularity. It would definitely be a very smart move to have Bungie take the stage alongside PlayStation once again to usher in the next installment, introduce new exclusive content, and keep the momentum rolling. Destiny 2 alongside the likes of PSVR support for Capcom’s Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, or the PS4 Pro enhanced Mass Effect: Andromeda will show that the house of PlayStation means business and is committed to providing the biggest experiences to its fan base.
No Resting on Laurels
Sony has fallen to hubris in the past, most notably with the launch of the PS3. The company ended up playing catch up for that entire generation, and while they did eventually manage to catch up, it was at the cost of a lot of hard work after putting themselves at a disadvantage. They learned to not rest on past successes then, something that we got to witness first hand in 2015 when intelligent advertising such as the continued exclusivity deals with Activision and some solid third-party deals like Bloodborne, one of the biggest games of that year, helped to keep Sony on top. An impressive feat considering the company’s own developers were still hard at work and wouldn’t have their games out within the year.
We’ve seen that they know how to handle their current success, but there’s always that slight chance that they can fall back into old habits and that would prove to be to the company’s detriment. A strong lead can easily be cut by persistent competition, so the company should definitely be always looking forward with bigger, better ideas rather than just reaping the benefits of what they’ve already done. Stagnation will prove to be the PS4’s undoing, and we only hope that Sony doesn’t make that mistake.
Keep That Nostalgia Train Rolling
Over the past couple of years, Sony has sent hype trains into overdrive by bringing beloved classic franchises and games back to life. 2015 saw the announcement of both a Final Fantasy VII remake and the announcement of Shenmue III. 2016 brought the reveal of a Crash Bandicoot remake as well as some other classics including PaRappa the Rapper. It sounds crazy because these games are decades old, but they have everyone excited.
Sony has proven to be like some sort of digital fairy godmother, granting wishes and resurrecting games that we were sure we’d never see. But why stop at Crash and Final Fantasy VII? One game that fans have been clamoring for is a new Spyro the Dragon or at least a remake of the old ones in the vein of Ratchet & Clank. Imagine finally being able to soar through the skies as the lovable purple dragon once again without having to worry about buying a thousand toys and some weird portal. Right now it’s looking like if any company can do it, it’s definitely Sony. While they’re at it, perhaps they can throw us another bone in the form of MediEvil. Sir Daniel Fortesque has been long overdue an adventure.
Overhyping is Dangerous
One mistake that definitely plagued Sony in 2016 and they need to hope doesn’t follow them going forward into 2017 is overhype. No Man’s Sky was a title with a ton of potential from a small studio that promised the universe but gave us little more than a sparse galaxy. It’s not that the game is horrible or anything, but the fact that it had been overhyped by its creators and in some advertising certainly reflected poorly on Sony, even though they didn’t directly create the game.
Overhype is a dangerous thing as it can take a solid game and ruin it by giving that game a promise that’s impossible to live up to. Sony has several huge exclusives baking at the moment – the list includes Death Stranding, Horizon Zero Dawn, Spider-Man, The Last of Us Part II, and Days Gone – and those are all in danger of having too much hype put into them. Hopefully, the company has learned from the past and will just be straightforward and honest, tempering the wild machinations of the masses rather than feeding them, and delivering great experiences. Hype is fun, but only in moderation. Let’s not have another No Man’s Sky situation, please.