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How would you battle the Sony Hype Machine


EnemaEms
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Since the discussion has already started on the release of the Next Gen consoles, I was thinking about this the other day. What will Microsoft and Nintendo have to do to battle the hype that will be the PS3.

 

The talk is that in order to beat the PS3 that maybe MS or Nintendo (mostly MS) should release their X-BoxNext before the release of the PS3 and beat them out of the gate. Others think the opposite, let Sony play their hand 1st and release your system after the PS3.

 

I'm interested in seeing what the membership here feels how this can be done, because I have thought about it and I don't see how Sony can lose. IMHO, the average gamer believes what ever Sony says, and even with another lackluster launch game-wise, I think Sony can't fail. Now I love my PS2, but I didn't buy one until a year later after some A-quality games were released. If a console doesn't have any launch games I am not interested in, I will wait on it. Why pay top dollar for something I won't even play for awhile. :)

 

-Dean-

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I'm interested in seeing what the membership here feels how this can be done, because I have thought about it and I don't see how Sony can lose. IMHO, the average gamer believes what ever Sony says, and even with another lackluster launch game-wise, I think Sony can't fail. Now I love my PS2, but I didn't buy one until a year later after some A-quality games were released. If a console doesn't have any launch games I am not interested in, I will wait on it. Why pay top dollar for something I won't even play for awhile?

 

Your first sentence is the most revealing in that post. In my opinion, and that of most industry "pundits" (for what they're worth), Sony can't lose now. They have what's called a massive "mindshare." Take that coupled with the recent mainstream-ification of video gaming and you have a formula that really can't lose for Sony unless they put rabid, child-gnawing bunnies in the PS3.

 

Some may argue that this has happened before, and "look what happened to Nintendo." While Sony did come in and run the big N for a loop, videogaming wasn't nearly the industry that it is today. If you ask virtually any casual gamer today, he/she will tell you that the last system they ever had was an Atari or NES until they bought a Playstation in the 90s.

 

At this point, sneaking in where Sony left off would be tantamount to Burger King finally coming up with a burger that trumps the market success of the Big Mac, causing all fast-food eaters to "switch" to the Whopper. Sure, they've tried it; and sure, they're a pretty successful franchise with many people loving the Whopper over the Big Mac, but we all know who the dollar fights for on that battlefield.

 

Also, and as an aside, one can't dismiss the fact that Sony is a Japanese company. The wide majority of developers that hold franchises that can sell or kill a system are Japanese. The relative failure of the XBox in Japan isn't going to make them want to jump on board as developers for the Xbox Next no matter how many incentives Microsoft throws at them.

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I'm with you guys: to be honest, I don't think it's possible at this point. Last year at E3, Sony declared the console wars "over", and it's hard to argue that. It has reached a point where the word "Playstation" has become synonymous with console gaming in the same way that people refer to "Xerox machines" instead of copiers, or a "walkman" instead of a portable radio. Sony is seen as the "hip" brand, and rappers, athletes, and movie stars practically fall over themselves to either be seen playing one or even better, appear in a game themselves.

 

It's for that reason that I have a bad feeling about Xbox2. Right now, MS has a clear hardware advantage and the most robust online component, and they are still sucking wind compared to Sony. What will happen when that technology gap is pratically eliminated in the next generation (or worse yet, Sony's machine releases later and is technically superior)? Where is the incentive to go with Xbox2 then? Exclusive games, probably, but as good as MS' exclusives are this generation, I'm not sure Gotham3 and Crimson Skies2 are going to get it done.

 

If MS releases first, you've got the Dreamcast scenario where the average gamer will hold off to see what Sony has up their sleeves. If they wait to trump Sony, you've got the same scenario where Sony gets a headstart. Frankly I don't see how MS can ever catch up to Sony. I just hope they can sell enough units to keep the division going, because the Xbox is the best console I've ever owned. (sniff)

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Originally posted by stencil@Feb 5 2004, 04:15 PM

Also, and as an aside, one can't dismiss the fact that Sony is a Japanese company. The wide majority of developers that hold franchises that can sell or kill a system are Japanese. The relative failure of the XBox in Japan isn't going to make them want to jump on board as developers for the Xbox Next no matter how many incentives Microsoft throws at them.

I don't disagree with the second half of this at all, but...

 

Taking a quick look at this week's all-formats UK Top 40 (available on the Chart Track website) shows TWO (count 'em!) Japanese titles; Pro Evo Soccer 3 (at 27) and Soul Calibur II (at 28). (I'm right that the Eye Toy is developed in the UK for Sony, aren't I?). The top 20 PS2 titles just has PES3 in it.

 

Its a different story in the Nintendo-only chart, but the fact that their number one (Mario Kart) doesn't make the overall top 40 has its own warnings there.

 

Things probably aren't nearly as bad in the US, but you can't rule out you lot going the same way as we have before the next round. Right now the whole of Japan put together doesn't pull the weight of EA in the UK.

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The real problem is that Nintendo doesn't want to compete for 1st and Microsoft can't compete for first. MS could give these things away on the street and Japanese gamers wouldn't take them. I don't see how MS can break through the cultural barrier over there and I don't see Nintendo getting with the race in the US. N seems content to carve out a niche with AAA 1st party title and just live off of that. Good for N, but that doesn't make for a #1 console marketing plan.

 

All I can reason would be that with enough money and some strategic license purchases, Xbox could woo Japanese gamers (finally). Arguably, the only reason it has sold as it has in Japan is due to the DOA license. If you could stack some Sega mega licenses and maybe convince square to go dual-platform (anything is possible with enough money), MS might keep equal in Japan.

 

Who cares? I'm convinced the reason we have so many great games to choose from at fantastic prices is due to the three way bloodbath console war going on right now. I hope it continues for at least the next gen and we get even more innovation at better prices.

 

PS - Sony has this gen wrapped up, doesn't mean they won't shoot off their own foot in the next wave. Remember there was a time when their foray into console life was a laughing stock and Nintendo was supposedly the immovable 800 lb gorilla. Next gen could be the same story with Sony instead of big N...

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Originally posted by Snakefish@Feb 5 2004, 10:51 AM

PS - Sony has this gen wrapped up, doesn't mean they won't shoot off their own foot in the next wave. Remember there was a time when their foray into console life was a laughing stock and Nintendo was supposedly the immovable 800 lb gorilla. Next gen could be the same story with Sony instead of big N...

See above. Actually, I'll just paste it again:

 

Some may argue that this has happened before, and "look what happened to Nintendo." While Sony did come in and run the big N for a loop, videogaming wasn't nearly the industry that it is today. If you ask virtually any casual gamer today, he/she will tell you that the last system they ever had was an Atari or NES until they bought a Playstation in the 90s.

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I think Microsoft is going to have its hands full enough explaining why (if rumors are true) they've dropped the hard drive and you can't play Xbox games on Xbox Next. That last is really a deal-killer for me, at least until there is a substantial library of XN games to choose from. Though I regard Nintendo's hardware as little more than a vehicle for first-party titles, that's enough to warrant purchase, and I think N's foray into China's market has big potential payoff. I've had my PS2 the longest of my systems, and it hasn't really failed to live up to its promises. Few disk errors (far less than the Xbox), it was my only DVD player for some time, has a great cross-section of game genres to choose from, and a Greatest Hits collection that truly represented quality titles. I am becoming skeptical, however, of Microsoft's commitment to gaming. I know I'm continually pissing on the Xbox parade (though I do loves me my Xbox), but I see them as hedging their bets right now. Microsoft has dipped their beak in several markets only to substantially back off later (WebTV, Ultimate TV). I'm no accountant, but the monetary losses for the Xbox have to be staggering and would have destroyed a lesser company. Even with a strong foothold, won't they have to sell enough games and systems to make up for those initial losses before they can consider XN a success?

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To me, I think the answer is simple.

 

You need the best version of Madden 200x on your system at this point. Sony got way ahead before anyone else did because Madden has really taken off, in my opinion. If you can launch with a version of Madden that is unique to your system and looks and plays and controls better than the others, you have a huge head start, because you can look at millions in console sales right there.

 

Just my opinion.

 

Glen

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I agree with alot of these comments. Sony has made the word "Playstation" a very common word/household item. The console name is as famous as the title "Pac Man" back in the 80's (even though I was young then!) It does have a hip title, it is backed by one of the largest (if not the largest) publishers, Electronic Arts.

 

What made Microsoft's Xbox a competitor was a few things:

 

1. The HardDrive

Before in consoles, this was never even heard of! If Microsoft were to take this out of Xbox 2, it's going to have a hard to compete, because this is one of the best features.

 

2.Custom Soundtracks

This is really sweet. Racing down the streets, listening to YOUR MUSIC! Whoever came up with the idea is pure genious!

 

3. Expandable Harddrive

Xbox is costing MS millions. The harddrive isn't the most expensive part, but however, if they were to lower the harddrive size (3GB) and then sell an expansion that is like 5GB for like $50 bucks.

 

THis might not be the best idea, but what if you wanted all of your songs to take over to a friends? Transfer the songs to that HD and take them over to a friends.

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Well, I'd start by showing that the Playstation brand is synonymous with DEATH! Millions of people have Playstations and millions of people die each day! Don't buy it!

 

Well, that probably wouldn't work. :)

 

Everyone is right though. The Playstation name is a household name. It's hip, all the kids love it, and if you don't have one, you're not "cool".

 

Microsoft needs to get GREAT exclusive titles. They need the best hardware, and the ability to expand it. They need to market it better, showing everyone their advantages. They need to crack the Japanese market, and prove they're in it for the long haul.

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Originally posted by HL2CROSSFIREMOD@Feb 5 2004, 12:41 PM

3. Expandable Harddrive

Xbox is costing MS millions. The harddrive isn't the most expensive part, but however, if they were to lower the harddrive size (3GB) and then sell an expansion that is like 5GB for like $50 bucks.

 

THis might not be the best idea, but what if you wanted all of your songs to take over to a friends? Transfer the songs to that HD and take them over to a friends.

I like this idea, but I wonder if rights-issues would kill the transferability of songs.

 

A lot of people have pointed out (probably correctly) that MS loses a lot of money by not selling major accessories separately. This, however, was a major reason for my launch day purchase of an Xbox. I didn't want to go buy a multitap to play four-player games or buy a couple memory cards to store my saves.

 

Further, I believed that including these things (like the HDD and networking) would make it more likely that developers would support those things.

 

-j

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Geez...you guys are really pessimistic about the Xbox's future.

 

I don't think the Japanese market is as important as many have mentioned. Sure, there is a great population of gamers there to tap but I say give Japan to Sony & Nintendo and focus on the West. Microsoft has done a great job of providing a proving ground for non-Japanese developers. The Xbox has shown that US developers can make more than just PC games. Bringing traditional PC developers to a console in such numbers has never even appeared on Sony's radar.

 

PS2 has peaked. Xbox is the growth console right now. 2004 is the time for Microsoft to build their brand -to build their mindshare. I really doubt the marketing campaigns leading up to PS3 & X2 will yield a winner based on consumer perception alone. Gamers today are more sophisticated than in previous generations. They know hardware features and hype mean nothing compared to a few good games. Someone mentioned "having the best Madden" -that is exactly what shoppers are interested in.

 

Backward compatibility will be an issue as well. While we hardcore gamers don't necessarily need the feature it's a huge safety net to mom's & dad's.

 

I think Microsoft & Sony will launch at roughly the same time. Despite the current rumors (which may be intentional red herrings) I do not think Microsoft will launch before Sony. They'll be within a month or two of one another.

It's Nintendo that I think will take the Sega route and launch way early. It's really the only card they have to play. In the long run I think it'll be a mistake they will pay dearly for but I don't see any other option for them.

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Originally posted by iCamp@Feb 5 2004, 01:07 PM

The Xbox has shown that US developers can make more than just PC games. Bringing traditional PC developers to a console in such numbers has never even appeared on Sony's radar.

Great point!

 

However, alot of PC Developers are sketchy about creating a game for Xbox. As far as I know, most have just ported games over from the PC with some enhancements.

 

The only PC Developer that I seen jump into the console business is UbiSoft. They have ported ALOT of games for consoles, and as far as I know (not sure) they created a game for xbox (splinter cell) and then ported it over to PC, then to PS2!

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It's Nintendo that I think will take the Sega route and launch way early. It's really the only card they have to play. In the long run I think it'll be a mistake they will pay dearly for but I don't see any other option for them.

 

I don't see this at this point. Nintendo has only done little mentioning of their successor to the Gamecube. It seems like they've talked more about the new DS or the new GB. I would think Nintendo will be launching around '06 as well. Perhaps in Japan before the others, but not here. Having said all that though, Nintendo does march to the beat of their own drummer.

 

As for Microsoft, I can't envision a scenario where they don't launch before the PS3. I don't know why, but I think the new people they have in charge of the Xbox want to get "the Jump" on Sony. It remains to be seen if it really helps or hinders them.

 

Glen

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Originally posted by iCamp@Feb 5 2004, 01:07 PM

The only PC Developer that I seen jump into the console business is UbiSoft. They have ported ALOT of games for consoles, and as far as I know (not sure) they created a game for xbox (splinter cell) and then ported it over to PC, then to PS2!

 

Add to that list at least Bioware and Ion Storm (not to mention Bungie). PC developers are happy to develop for consoles, since thats where the big money is these days. And they're not just porting games from PC to console.

 

Since Microsoft is taking design cues from Sony ("we won't have a hard drive unless sony does!"), I don't see how they could launch Xbox2 well before PS3. It'd probably be smarter to avoid Sony's hype machine all together by releasing Xbox2 alongside PS3.

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I don't think the Japanese market is as important as many have mentioned. Sure, there is a great population of gamers there to tap but I say give Japan to Sony & Nintendo and focus on the West. Microsoft has done a great job of providing a proving ground for non-Japanese developers. The Xbox has shown that US developers can make more than just PC games. Bringing traditional PC developers to a console in such numbers has never even appeared on Sony's radar.

 

I think you expressed exactly what MS has decided to do. Try to slowly seep into the Japanese game market while getting their bread&butter in the West. But don't dismiss Japan as a small, unimportant market. As much as USA culture affects them, they affect us in the gaming world. A friend and I often argue about which region is more innovative now, the East or the West. With recent games like Halo, GTAx, and say KOTOR the momentum would seem to be shifting to western companies making games for western gamers (and east for eastern gamers.) There are crossover games, but not as many as you would think. They don't really buy the Halo/GTA games and we don't really buy their dating sims or horse race games. I'm just saying there is a fundamental cultural difference in the types of games most enjoyed.

 

Anyway, the next gen battle will be entertaining to watch no matter what. If all the consoles suck, I could probably spend 1-2 years just catching up on all the great games I don't have time to play now!

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I agree that Sony definitely has the edge as far as overall brand recognition and, to a lesser extent, even brand loyalty. But, I think that the next generation could easily see some sort of paradigm shift in the world of console gaming.

 

Japan has always been the heart of the console world, but I think that many stateside developers are starting to see the wisdom of console game development to add crucial funds in the wake of declining PC game revenues. Heck, we even see Blizzard, arguably one of the most respected PC developers, returning to its roots and developing a console game in the Starcraft universe.

 

I think that Microsoft will continue to be a player in this marketplace, if for no other reason than the studios and brands that it owns outright. Will Crimson Skies and Project Gotham be enough to make X-Box Next successful? No, but owning Bungie outright and thus the Halo franchise is an ace that they can always play when necessary. However, Microsoft has to be smart. They have to play the cards that show how the X-Box is unique among the consoles rather than dropping the hard drive and nixing backwards compatibility.

 

As far as big N goes that's a different stroy. I think that Nintendo's actions recently are demonstrating a near suicidal lack of awareness and vision. The way they seem to be downplaying the importance of on-line gaming has the feel of a death knell. I think that Nintendo could very well be on the road to being a software provider and nothing else in the console market, much like Sega. However, unlike Sega, this will be due, more than anything, to their lack of vision and their arrogance.

 

Just my two cents.

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I agree completely with you on that point.

 

In the handheld market Nintendo remains the 800 lb., immovable gorilla, and no one seems ti be making any moves to try to compete on a real level. (I completely discount what I consider to be a portable piece of excrement that Nokia calls the N-Gage.)

 

I am speaking strictly from the standpoint of the console market. I really think that Nintendo is missing alot of obvious truths in the marketplace right now and is displaying a breataking lack of vision for the future. Of course, that is just my opinion. Feel free to flame away.

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No flames here, Scion. We don't do that around these parts. (edit, whoops, Romier beat me to it)

 

I think you are forgetting the PSP, though, when you say that no one is making a serious run at the handheld market.

 

I used to think the same way about Nintendo, but my point of view is starting to change. I think they are content to let Sony and MS rip each other bloody over whose version of Madden or GTA is the best, and they can just sit back, release a low-cost console of their own, and then quietly pump out AAA titles that can only be played on their system. I thought the news that Sega would no longer produce their sports titles for Nintendo would be a body blow, but Nintendo just shook it off with a big So What? People don't buy Gamecubes to play NFL2k4. They buy them to play the incredible titles that Nintendo always delivers. And as long as they keep delivering those games (and not just the "legacy games" like Zelda and Mario, but stuff like Animal Crossing, Pikmin, etc.), people will be willing to drop $100 or so on the machine that plays them.

 

Maybe that is a naive or overly-simplistic view, but I really feel like Nintendo has slowly withdrawn from the goal of being a mainstream competitor and is now starting to focus on the stuff that only they can do, namely their first-party efforts, and even the GBA-GC connectivity stuff.

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I don't see this at this point. Nintendo has only done little mentioning of their successor to the Gamecube. It seems like they've talked more about the new DS or the new GB. I would think Nintendo will be launching around '06 as well. Perhaps in Japan before the others, but not here. Having said all that though, Nintendo does march to the beat of their own drummer.

 

There have been a couple quotes attributed to Nintendo officers that clearly indicate they are at least thinking about launching ahead of PS3 & XB2. I don't have time to search for a link for you right now but statements to that effect have been made by Nintendo over the past few months.

 

I think that Nintendo's actions recently are demonstrating a near suicidal lack of awareness and vision.

 

Agreed. It really hurts to watch too.

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I can see your point, PoisonJam, but my concern with Nintendo is how will they handle the next generation.

 

I love my GameCube. In fact it was the first console system of the current generation that i purchased. I resisted the draw of the consoles for a long time. I am a dyed-in-the-wool, old-school PC gamer and I looked down my nose on cosoles for a long time. Of course my opinion changed and now I am as hardcore about my consoles as my PC.

 

I love Nintendo's first party titles, but I question whether they can keep things going. Granted we got great games like Wind Waker and Metroid Prime, but how many of us prefer the old-school Mario games on the GBA to Super Mario Sunshine? I just wonder if Miyamoto can keep the ball rolling and make enough of a blip on the radar to keep Nintendo's hardware franchises rolling in the coming years.

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