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Sony’s One-And-Only Problem

So far, Sony has been making one great move after another. You’ll hardly hear anything truly negative when it comes to the PS4. As of right now the console is the go-to system for most gamers out there seeing as how the Wii U is “underpowered” in their eyes and lacks “mature” titles, while Microsoft simply ‘can’t be trusted after what they tried to pull’ with the Xbox One. While I disagree that the Wii U isn’t a feasible platform and you’re the devil if you buy an Xbox One, I’m inclined to agree that Sony is currently the cleanest of the bunch. In my eyes they’ve made a lot less mistakes with the PS4 than the competition has with their respective consoles.

And while I’m fully aware of the Vita’s current woes, I’m speaking strictly about their console-side of things.

The PS4’s running full-steam ahead right now – it has a tremendous momentum. It’s almost like a 2-ton snowball that’s still rolling down the hill. Sony has the strongest specs of the three, the affection of 3rd-party publishers and indies alike, and a perfectly-priced next-gen system. But one very important problem persists for Sony, and the simplest way I can put it is this: They don’t have that one game.

Sony

Nintendo: “We need a 10 million seller to get us out of a rut? OK, let’s make a Mario game.”

What I mean by this is simple; Nintendo has Mario and Microsoft has Halo. Both companies can depend on these series to have the mass-market appeal they need to cause waves through the sales charts each and every single time. Not only that, but both of these franchises are timeless (well, Halo to a much lesser extent than Mario, but still). Mario is not a story-focused series and has a timeless gameplay formula, meaning Nintendo can use Mario for however long as they’d like to. Halo 4 sold just as much as Halo 2, showing that gamers generally have yet to grow tired of the series, and the Halo universe is so expansive that they can jump to different Spartans or introduce new threats at any time, allowing 343 to refresh the series whenever they need to or want to. And of course, both of Nintendo and Microsoft’s mascots come from these two series.

And Sony lacks this important kind of weapon.

Remember the PS1 and PS2 days when Sony absolutely dominated the market? Why was that? Yes the fact that the PS1 and PS2 could play CD’s and DVD’s respectively greatly helped the sales of the platforms, but the major contributing factor was that they had that game, or rather, those games. Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy (mainline), Kingdom Hearts, Metal Gear, and so much more, were all essentially Playstation exclusives that appealed to everyone and you absolutely had to get a Playstation system to enjoy these games (for the most part). But now all of these series have gone completely multi-platform and Sony is left with newer, weaker IP’s.

While Uncharted and God of War are both great series, they lack the timelessness element that Mario and-the-like have. Uncharted, in my opinion, has been fatigued due to having 3 games in the series released on a single console with 2-year gaps in-between each release, not including Golden Abyss on the Vita. And while I believe that Naughty Dog could maybe squeeze out an Uncharted 4 without making the series seem too redundant, I don’t believe the series could go anywhere beyond that. Drake’s adventurous antics already felt a tab bit over-played and dried-up in Uncharted 3. Falling through a wood floor and escaping Indiana Jones-style scenerios is only amusing for so long.

Sony

Kratos, you’re a great guy and all, but the quick-time-events aren’t cutting it anymore.

As for God of War, I wouldn’t say the problem is too-many-games-to-quickly, but rather, the fact that the series essentially hasn’t changed a bit since the very first game, and probably because it can’t. If you’ve played one GOW, from a gameplay standpoint, you’ve played them all, and just like Uncharted, some of Kratos’s exploits are starting to tire out. Ripping off heads, limbs, and splitting enemies open was very entertaining to first few times around, but we’ve seen it so much now to the point of dullness. But most importantly, the the highest God of War has ever sold (with God of war III) was 4.5 million units. Great sales, but it just speaks to the choir rather than appealing to the masses.

I assure you – despite the fact that I truly and thoroughly enjoyed both of these series – they will cease eventually. Most-likely with this generation even.

For Sony’s other series such as Killzone, Infamous, Little Big Planet and-the-like, none of these series sell through the roof and all have seen a notable decline in sales since their first entries on the Playstation 3. Even Gran Turismo, despite being a juggernaut on the sales charts, has seen a steady constant decline since the 3rd game. Not to mention that GT6 is releasing on the PS3 so you don’t need a PS4 for the next Gran Turismo game anyways.

Some of you may be thinking I’m bashing Sony and asking the question, “Why does this matter though?” Keep in-mind that this article is being written from a highly competitive point-of-view. Yes, Sony can be widely successful with the PS4 without having that one series that utterly appeals to the masses. But if Sony wants to actually win – beat-out Microsoft and Nintendo – then that’s a different story. Let’s leave all bias and fanboyism out the door for a second here:  Both of the competing companies have much stronger IP’s in their arsenal than Sony does, and that’s a huge disadvantage. Nintendo has guns like Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, Super Smash Bros., Pokemon, etc, while Microsoft of course has Halo and a whole back-catalog of Rare IP’s that they can utilize whenever they want to (and they’ve started to with Killer Instinct), not to mention that the company is more than willing to money-hat for exclusives.

Sony

Shadowfall will be epic, but it’s not sending general consumers in droves to the PS brand.

Infamous and Killzone don’t hold a candle to these series, and a lot of these new IP’s (while welcomed) again lack the timelessness the competitions’ franchises have. Don’t get me wrong, these new franchises such as Little Big Planet and The Last of Us are high-end games, but what I’m saying is that these games only lead to short-term success. And while Killzone and Infamous are still going, they’re not bringing any new blood into the Playstation fanbase; they’re made to please the already-existing fans.

If you’re a die-hard Sony fan, I understand that none of what I am saying will mean much to you. You may be saying, “Tons of new IP’s and sequels from PS3 titles? That’s great, what are you talking about?”, but once again keep in mind that I’m coming from a competitive, business standpoint. Sony needs to do more than just appeal to their hardcore fans. They need a game on store shelves that will sell 10 million units and can be enjoyed by adults and kids alike. A game who’s main character can be the official face of Playstation. Something along the lines of what Crash and Spyro were back in the day, except with dramatically more sales.

To wrap things up here, naturally this is strictly my opinion (this article is labeled as an opinion piece, after all), but despite that fact I know some of you may be mad at for whatever reason for creating this article, but it’s just how I feel. If you disagree that’s great, just leave me your thoughts down below calmly explaining why and I would love to discuss this further with you. And for all we know I can very much be dead-wrong and Sony could easily beat out the competition without a juggernaut like Mario or Halo.

Fire-off in the comments people.

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55 Responses so far.

  1. Trago says:

    In other words, Sony needs their killer app, and I agree, the PS4 lacks a killer app right now.

    • Dan says:

      I believe the difference in the last generation was that X360 got the early lead over the PS3 and got all the early adopters who spend $$$$’s on games. These early adopters are the most lucrative customers in gaming, and it is now with PS4 that Sony has captured many of those early adopters. I expect the PS4 to be an incredible success, given the great and price and power advantage over X1.

  2. MohammadBadir says:

    the only time they had a mascot was in the PSX era with Crash Bandicoot. and he has a Wii game now XD

  3. tanveer says:

    I fully agree, I was a hardcore sony fan boy, owned all the consoles, but in the last year I just got tired of “the games”, it’s just not appealing to me anymore, I do like watching gameplays and trailers, but playing them is a different story.

    They have great games dont get me wrong, but the PS1/PS2 days were much much more fun.
    “Crash and Spyro” Is exactly what sony is lacking is proper “fun” games, not hardcore/serious AAA titles.

    What sony needs is to lay of the AAA titles, go back to their roots.
    GT6 on ps3 and not on PS4 was a big big mistake.

  4. Paul says:

    Unless Sony is to remain without a “killer app” for the rest of their lives, they will need to create one. So is it going to be a brand new IP you’ve never seen, or at they going to grow one of the ones they have now to be a blockbuster?

    You’ve cited the challenges of creating a new IP that no one has seen before, yet there are some folks citing Titanfall (a new IP) as a system seller for Xbox One (despite it being on PC and 360 also). If Sony were to be able to do this, what kind of game would it need to be?

    If instead they could take one of their franchises and grow it, which would it be? I think Infamous has the power (no pun intended) to do this. It has potential to be expanded with new characters, as we’re seeing with new guy Delson. So it’s a bigger world than any particular cast. You can’t say that about Uncharted or GoW.

  5. HalfBlackCanadian says:

    (Sorry but I have to get this out of the way first) – PS4 has other issues, it’s just that every news outlet and blog ever are too busy trying to bury the Wii U and Xbox One to care. Limited controller support (while seemingly trivial can prevent some interesting play scenarios for indies and sports titles most apparently), limited total input on 1st and 2nd party games (that are mandatory PS Vita cross-play meaning less two shoulder buttons and a clickable trackpad), and a lack of ACTUAL working hardware…I could go on.

    That said, while Sony doesn’t have that specific franchise, they do have a record of utilizing their devs well and getting great output. Carry-over franchises are rare, and MS is lucky to have a few (Fable, Halo etc.) but fatigue is inevitable with those as they have been with God of War and Uncharted.

    IMO there is very little compelling on PS4 announced thus far, but I think they have a track record that allows a gamer to just buy the console knowing full-well that the greatness is just around the corner. MS has the better line-up on paper right now (ignoring indies, not because they aren’t viable but because it’s still VERY up in the air what stays PS4 exclusive when the dust settles) but that could very well change.

    I’m getting both, likely will put more time into XB1 until after Titanfall and then see where things are at…

    • The way the cross play works on PS4 will most likely be the exact same way it works with the PS3 and that is with the rear touch pad on the Vita. Touch the top right for right shoulder button, bottom right for right stick click. Same for the left, and then we can all just assume you touch the front of the screen to mimic clicking the touch pad on the controller.

  6. Huvvi186 says:

    Playstation has always been about variety, but the need for an “iconic” franchise is needed (Altough i think Gran Turismo is the closest to that).

  7. ThugNasty97 says:

    That’s my problem with Sony. Sure they don’t milk franchises, but making new IP after new IP can be a bad thing, especially when you lack heavy hitting franchises. I think that a new Jak and Daxter and Uncharted game will do it. A new God of War could be a big-seller if they do something completely different with it.

  8. G says:

    The Last of Us
    Resogun
    Driveclub

  9. Anonymous says:

    Actually Sony do have the Gran turismo franchise that sells phenomenally well for them. Generally 8+ million in sells is nothing to look past

  10. Jimm says:

    You mention the ‘stale’ gameplay, however you chose to word it, of the Uncharted and God of War series’. Aside from the 3D Mario games, what have Mario for Nintendo and Halo on the Xbox done so differently from title to title that the same things cannot be said for them as we’ll?

    • shaun says:

      This. They haven’t changed much at all. Sony might not have 1 flagship game but they do have more great original titles than microsoft, who just to flog the few they do have.

  11. Mac McClure says:

    They don’t have the “one game,” they have the “thirty games.”

    • Correction, they have the 30 indies, and those are only timed exclusives since they will soon be on my phone.

    • Just to give some perspective here.

      This gen MS released 4 Halo games: Halo 3, Halo ODST, Halo Reach, Halo 4.

      4 Gears of War games: Gears 1,2,3 & judgement.

      4 Forza Games: Forza 2,3,4 & Horizon.

      And yet they still ended up being in 3rd place even with a year headstart on the competition. Meanwhile Sony has yet to make a home console that sells less than 100 milliion units in its lifetime.

      The idea that Sony needs to put all of their eggs in one basket is silly to me. The best thing that happened to Sony in regards to PlayStation is the fact that Nintendo is seen as kids/family orientated, and MS is seen as Shooter centric, leaving Sony as the best of both worlds with a very varried library of games.

  12. derpherp says:

    Sony doesnt have a predictable go-to game to get out of a rut, because it has too diverse a range of genre in the games they offer, dividing up the sales.

    “if nintendo need a get out of jail free card they make a mario game, if microsoft do they make a halo game”, am i the only one that sees this as a NEGATIVE and not a positive?, while they may sell well, its detrimental to the ecosystem, because you end up in Nintendos situation where only the staple, predictable franchises get any sales.

  13. NeoMahi says:

    Sony doesn’t need that ONE GAME. That’s precisely Sony’s strength a plethira of great games and a lot of talent developers (while they’re favorite right now–at least for SCEA and Jack Tretton) Naughty Dog has yet to reveal its next-gen game. Sony will do fine. I actually disagree with you completely. Sony’s big deal right now is to work on marketing. Sony’s marketing still doesn’t compete with Microsoft. Microsoft cringes at Sony’s exclusives and tries to cover it up that its really not that big of a deal, but they’re peeing their pants and scrambling to pick up Sony’s games at launch to play them on their PS3, pick them apart and analyze what Sony knows that they don’t and then copy it. Look at the Bonus Disc of ‘Gears of War Limited Collectors Edition’ and Epic Games woes with dealing with idiots at Microsoft that don’t know a thing about the games industry. That’s right. Microsoft nearly sabotaged Gears of War and Epic Games remained loyal throughout the 360’s life. Sony’s not that stupid. But Microsoft knows they have Sony in their back pocket so long as Sony fails to figure out how to market their games. I mean, PS3 gamers ARE LUCKY THIS YEAR! They got ‘The Last of Us’ that following E3 Google’s statistics had shown the number search was ‘The Last of Us Xbox 360’. YES! I kid you not. PS3 gamers are also getting Puppeteer, Killzone Mercenaries, Beyond Two: Souls, Rain, and Tearaway just to name a few and there’s many more. But there’s the PS4. Its having to save up to secure my PS4 that’s preventing me from picking these games up at launch. I’m going to have to wait and hopefully get GT6 for Christmas.

  14. duffman says:

    cleanest of the bunch my butt sony is the worst of the lot they push sega out of the market out of spite because they couldnt get enough market share thats not what i would call a trust worthy company .

  15. Matt Swanson says:

    Xbox1 has Killer Instinct and Ryse right now for me. PS4 has…? Should have had The Last Guardian and maybe a new God of War. Or maybe something Heavenly Sword-like or I Don’t Know. Just something!

  16. Tim says:

    One and only? Ha NO! $0n¥ PauperStation 4 is all lies, overhype and underdeliver! GTFO of business Ph0n3ys!

  17. Kooonissshiiiwwwaaaaa says:

    Who cares about a mascot ? It’s better not to have one, you don’t need to use it in a new game each year.

  18. SpYkz89 says:

    They have Uncharted

  19. Both of the last two Uncharted Games received higher review scores than any game Microsoft has brought to the table in recent years as did a little game that just happens to be the highest reviewed game of the 7th Gen called “The Last of Us”.

  20. Also another little game called K-K-K-Kingdom Hearts III is the Playstation 4’s Killer App.

  21. James says:

    I disagree on Uncharted, I’d say that’s more than sufficient as a killer app. I think myself and plenty of other players agree that they’re as fun as Halo games (as would reviews), and considering Halo 3, ODST, Reach, and 4 (not including Halo Wars and Combat Evolved Anniversary) all came out in this cycle as well makes 4 Halo games in one generation to Uncharted’s 3. And Halo has changed about as much as God of War has.

  22. Brian says:

    It’s dumb to have that ONE game. Microsoft and Nintendo are too dependent on their ONE games. Halo is old and boring. Mario is just the same game made generation after generation. Sony has tons of that ONE game. It just depends on what type of games you like. I think Sony is doing it the right way for sure.

  23. Darius says:

    I agree, I will be picking up a PS4, but it doesn’t have that one huge game. The thing about PS3 which was evident near the end of the generation they just had such a nice handful of big titles that unfortunately aren’t as huge in sales as I think they should be. I loved Last of US. I’m excited to see what Naughty Dog do on PS4 with this title. I think they should be given huge amount of time and a huge budget. I started thinking about the idea of their online being a cross between Last Of Us and Dayz. Imagine that in a huge open world? Kinda like what we are seeing with GTA5 Online in terms of missions and freedom. Other big games such as David Cages new game. I loved Heavy Rain. Sony seem to have really good titles but quite a few of them that just dont sell as well as the Halo’s, Don’t get me wrong I liked Halo,

  24. Abberjam says:

    Do Sony NEED that one game? Really? While they may not have a 10 million-selling exclusive, Sony has built is reputation on having the geatest RANGE of exclusives and a truly holisticapproach to its branding. Despite a terrible launch campaign and a one year deficit, the PS3 nevertheless managed to equal and eventually surpass Microsofts worldwide unit sales. Both Microsoft and Sony have set out their stalls. Microsoft is the One-Killer-App Dude-Bro Jock Console, whereas Sony has the console of choice for the eclectic gamer. Both consoles are quite different in their approach and both have a very large user-base. What’s wrong with that?

  25. Janez Krnc says:

    sony’s been struggling to find their place and “image” in the gaming scene for YEARS (decades lol)…its not really a secret. thats why they constantly try to make up new franchises that people would GRAB on-to like mario,halo,zelda…. but yeah…

  26. Tony says:

    If we’re leaving out handhelds, then we have to look at nintendo’s stable of ‘timeless’ games and the way they’re affecting their home console sales. If Wii U is to be their competing console vs Ps4 and Xbone then judging by meager world wide sales to date Nintendo need something more than the same old ‘comfort food’ ip’s they’ve been milking for decades.

  27. Blur says:

    Gran Turismo in decline…. yeah, sure! NO other racing, wannbe GT nor PC game comes close to GT in terms of Sales and “Fidelity”.

    GT3 sold closely to 16 Mio. GT is their Big Hitter going up to 11 per new iteration. Just as an example Forza sold 10 Mio. copies since its conception and thanks to FM4 they hit the 16 Mio. milestone, compare that to the close to 80 Mio. GT copies..

    You know what the real diffrence between the 3 is ?! If you remove the Mario, the Zelda and the Halo (pc exclusive back then…. right ?) out of the equation, guess who out of the 3 is going to be still making tons of cash ?

    Yep, Atari…

  28. Blur says:

    Forgot to add :

    Sure, we had FF (real ones, not the emo crap these days..), still have (hopefully) MGS exclusivity and what not.. thing is :

    Only >>>SONY<< N > M are… sure, Sony might now have an icony mascot, maybe they have but never cared to pick one (Jak Daxter, Ape Escape, Spryo, MediEVIL!!!!, Ratchet or Clank, Sly Cooper, Crash Bandicoot… and few others…).. they know their strength and i can not wait and see what they come up for the PS4 this gen.

    Unique IP from own studios.

  29. BW says:

    What a bunch of fanboyism. Xbox lost almost all of its exclusive developers as well if they didnt completely buy them out ex Bungie who made Halo! And their cherished Mass Effect even the exclusive ME1 is on the PS3. Uncharted, GOW, TLOU, Infamous, Killzone, Resistance, LBP, PS Allstars, Heavy Rain ect. Stop kidding your self. PS3 inevitable overcame xbox sales even being late to the market.

  30. Miles Greb says:

    Sony. Please listen…Buy Square Enix. Final Fantasy should only be on PS/

  31. iLegit says:

    Well sony has killzone and god of war both of these titles are huge sellers

  32. John says:

    The only difference is, Sony and the PlayStation is not going anywhere – they don’t NEED that ‘killer game’ because they release major games every year – Sony aren’t going anywhere, and they’re not going broke. And unlike Microsoft (who DO need that killer game), Sony doesn’t have anyone on their board who even thinks they should drop PlayStation (http://gengame.net/2013/09/analyst-believes-microsofts-newest-board-member-could-push-to-sell-off-xbox-division/). Sony has more studios, and better games. I agree that they need more games, but that ‘killer game’ that they can fall back on is total nonsense!!

  33. jak d ripr says:

    C’mon man, selective vision much? The highest selling halo( halo 3 – 8 million) has sold less than the lowest selling gran turismo(GT 2 – 9 million), so I honestly don’t see what you’re basing this argument on. I don’t mean this in a disrespectful manner, just curious. Sure, sony don’t have anything like mario, but no one does.
    But to say sony lack a killer app like MS just isn’t true when GT 5 prologue has sold more than halo 4. Think about that, a racing sim, sold more than an FPS in this current market.

    • jak d ripr says:

      You’re going to have to excuse me, some of my numbers were incorrect lol. But my point still stands though, GT sells like no mans business so I don’t see how it isn’t a killer app.

  34. milehighshooter says:

    i dont think sony or xbox one need a mascot i own all the systems and its good think for gamers to have more choices it would be really bad if their was only one console like the that would be a waste of money just like it is now no good games to play other then mario

  35. Anonymous says:

    tab bit over-played
    tad
    speaks to the quire
    choir

    Professionalism needed.

  36. tab bit over-played
    Tad
    speaks to the quire
    Choir

    Professionalism needed.

  37. Seriously, I will just say this. MS depends heavily on Halo as their prime just as Nintendo for Mario. Nintendo is still stuck in Kidville. Yea, I grew up playing Atari to Nintendo but still it is time to grow out of the young kiddie games and bring some adult fun into fray. That is why Nintendo stays out of the “Console War”. They create the weaker console so they don’t have to deal with it. Yes, that can be smart but at the same time it stupid to a degree. Then there is MS that swears FPS is the best thing since sliced bread. They depend on those to bring in the big bucks. I see why Titanfall was supposed to be their big exclusive title. It was another FPS game. Their drive is about those FPS games. Then there is Sony that believes in many great games over just One. You don’t need a Mascot for games. Unless you want to remain in the 90s. Sony is about Entertaining the Masses. Bashing any console is not a way to go. But in truth it about entertaining the ones that Game. I think Gaming should be about giving more instead of depending on one type of game for People. Some many not like what I say or think. But when was the last time Sony depended on One type of game. Again I am only going by what each Console shows or depends on.

  38. Anonymous says:

    ratchet & clank is the reason i buy sony

  39. Paulo says:

    Sony has GRAN TURISMO! Every GT is always more than 10 million copies. Sony also has the biggest number of successful new IPs. Terrible article!

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