Sony’s network services have been on a bit of a roll. By now, we all know that PlayStation as a hardware is doing fine with over 40 million PS4’s sold to date – but the importance of Sony’s network services is perhaps even greater than the consoles they sell. That’s because long after Sony’s sells you a console, they still need to make money and network services are one such way. In fact, with PlayStation Vue, which recently surpassed 100,000 subscribers, the streaming TV app is actually available on more non-Sony devices.
As for PlayStation Plus, Sony is approaching 21 million paid subscribers. During Sony’s Investor Day Briefing, PlayStation executive Andrew House shared his thoughts on Microsoft’s Play Anywhere strategy which is similar to Apple’s policy which allows you to purchase an app once and have it available on iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch and even Sony’s own Cross-purchase initiative which would allow you to download a Vita version of a title if you purchase the equivalent game on PS3 or PS4. Sony also had Cross-play on a handful of titles.
There is a fantastic quote (that I can’t find for the life of me) from Ken Kutaragi, the father of PlayStation during the PS3 era, in which he more or less stated that Sony would never charge for online play. Kutaragi believed that free online gameplay was a strategic differentiator between PS3 and Xbox 360, and perhaps even a ‘right’ for gamers. Incidentally under Kutaragi, the PlayStation brand arguably suffered.
Fast-forward to PS4 and PlayStation Plus not only became a core component of the console, but transitioned over to pay a structure as well. Funny enough, the PlayStation brand hasn’t been this popular in a decade.
A very interesting and telling graph depicting Sony’s Game & Network services rise and fall throughout the years. It’s worth noting that the above has not been adjusted for inflation. With PlayStation Vue now doing some decent business, having just surpassed 100K subscribers, and PlayStation VR around the bend, it’s no surprise that Sony is bullish on the division’s future.
Sony has always lacked the ability to create a marriage between its entertainment and electronic businesses. Despite ownership of media being one of the most important drivers of technology and Sony owning one of the largest movie and music studios, the tech giant has never been able to leverage its media assets to push any of its products in a meaningful way. Ironically Apple, which does not own a film or music label, has always been able to use media to drive forward its products like the iPod, Apple TV, and now Apple Music.
Just a few of Sony’s failed media services in the past five years include Music Unlimited, Movies Unlimited, and Qriocity but there are plenty more to be added to that list. Just think about how Sony backs the awful, terrible, and true garbage that is UltraViolet and Ultra, their new 4K streaming service that will likely lead nowhere. However, like PlayStation, which has bucked the trend of Sony products that at times lack greater worldwide appeal, PS Vue is another service that seems to be gaining meaningful traction by consumers.
It’s fairly obvious that unless something drastic takes place in the gaming landscape, PlayStation 4 will be the runaway winner as Nintendo for all intents and purposes is no longer able to compete on any meaningful scale and Xbox One is doing nearly half the numbers PS4 is posting.
Prior to E3, the rumor mill was abuzz with the potential announcement of PS4 4K. While the console didn’t make an appearance at the show, Sony did confirm its existence. Till now, we all assumed that the upgraded PS4 was to be created in part to push gaming forward with new capabilities and to combat future upgraded versions of Xbox like the Scorpio. However there is likely another angle to all of this.
While the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have now been shipping for a few months and will enjoy a near 6-month lead time when PS VR launches this October, the reality is that they won’t be much of a challenge to Sony. After all, who wants to purchase a $1,500+ rig on top of an $800 headset, just to get into VR in the heydays? For it’s part, PlayStation VR headset will cost $399 and will require PS4, a $349 console. Best yet, Sony has already sold over 40 million PS4 consoles, giving PS VR a large pool to tap into and because of that, they’re projected to own the VR market by year’s end.
I’ve always been firmly in the camp that the decision to delay a game is a good thing. After all, as a developer, you only get once chance to impress audiences for the first time. Sure, all games, no matter how bad or good they are, come with patches, but if you’ve released a game with problems, people are going to know. Case in point, Uncharted 4 was delayed twice but nobody is talking about that now. Instead, the conversation is always around how amazing it turned out and that ‘Naughty Dog did it again.’
Speaking with GameSpot, game director Mathijs de Jonge on why they decided to delay Horizon: Zero Dawn till February 2017:
Sony and other console makers till recently had been barred from China, a country which imposes a ton of regulations on foreign companies. Despite all that, seeing how massive their population is, with a middle class that’s larger than the number of people who reside in the US, it’s no wonder that companies like Sony and Apple would be willing to do what they must in order to be able to do business there.
Now with the PS4 finally cleared for sale in the country, Sony has begun their marketing blitz with their first TV ad.
With the US becoming PlayStation’s most important and largest market, it’s no surprise that it was first on Sony’s list to receive VR pre-orders. Now with a solid E3 behind it, Sony has turned its attention towards Japan where PS VR became available for pre-order for the first time on Saturday and boy are things looking good.
What a bizarre turn of events. As somebody who had installed Linux on their PS3, merely to try it out, I can attest to how terrible the experience was. Besides it not being super intuitive to accomplish, once installed, Linux was slow and limited in what you could do. Who would want to reboot the PS3 and launch the Linux five minutes later to do some light web browsing or chatting? That’s about as far as my installs went before I completely forgot about it. I guess others didn’t?
PlayStation Vue, Sony’s vision of the future of TV, is getting a major expansion today. Previously available on PS3, PS4, and iOS devices like iPhone and iPad, PS Vue is now available on Roku boxes as well. Dan Myers, Head of Product:
PlayStation Vue will be available on Roku Streaming Stick, Roku Streaming players, and Roku TV. If you already have an account, just download PlayStation Vue on your Roku device and start streaming.
Alongside their Roku rollout, Sony is also preparing to bring the service to Android.
When game demos arrive for download or are shown off at media events like E3, they tend to be cherry picked from a specific part of the game. Either the developer decides on content from somewhere in the middle of the game to show some juicy action or something more towards the beginning in order to not spoil too much. However despite the demo shown at E3 2016 being at the very beginning of the game, what gamers will actually experience whenever God of War arrives will be vastly different.
Battlezone is a launch title that I plan on getting for PlayStation VR come October 13th and coincidentally, the first PS VR game that I also tried. Having had a chance to play it after the PlayStation keynote on Monday night, I was quickly shown the wonders VR can deliver. But perhaps more so than anything that was directly offered to me as a player, Battlezone tapped into my imagination of being transported to the Grid. Once there, within minutes I was maneuvering around tanks, strafe shooting, and taking down incoming flying enemies. Not bad for somebody who has never played the game, let alone strapped on a VR headset.
This is perhaps the closest I’ve ever been to the world of TRON (a place I’d live if I could) and damn was it a joy. After some hands on time, both Allegra and I stuck around to talk to the gang at Rebellion about their PS VR exclusive title.
Though Steve Jobs was not the first person to say it, it’s inherently clear that when the Polish indie team at Plastic Demo sought out to make their next game, his motto was in some way at the core of their vision. Seeing how well it’s served Apple, it’s not hard to see why you’d want that mentality at the center of your creation, but achieving it is something entirely different.
Creating a game that’s simplistic purely to be simple can come off as unambitious and visually dull. Is it just a low budget game? Are the developers not experienced enough to piece together something more captivating? Those are all perhaps fair questions that come to mind when the word ‘simple’ is tossed at a game.
But what if the opposite is true? What if simplicity was chosen on purpose to drive the imagination? What if that simplicity was put in place in order to explore more mature themes and paved the way for a world that’s driven by music and dance? And not just any dance, but ballet. Add to all of this a virtual environment and we now have the recipe for something truly unique.
PlayStation VR is just months away from its US arrival when it lands on October 13th for $399. Sony will also be selling a bundle for $499 which will include two PS Move Controllers and a PlayStation Camera. So what about the UK and Europe?