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U.S. Army combat veteran. OIF 06-08. Forward Observer. Purple Heart recipient. Husband. Father. Gamer. Writer. YouTuber.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

#PlayStation2013. Sony's time to shine?

About 3 weeks ago, on January 31, 2013, Sony uploaded a video to YouTube that has sparked unfathomable buzz heading in to the PlayStation Meeting on February 20. That's tomorrow, people. Tomorrow, PlayStation 4 *should* be announced.

I have spent the entirety of this hardware generation on the Xbox 360. I've played a few games on the PlayStation 3 here and there but never owned the system. I can't say I regret it.

I grew up on the Super Nintendo and original PlayStation. I will never... EVER - do you hear me? - NEVER EVER EVER stop playing the games I love on those systems. It's not just nostalgia, though I admit that I have a ton of older video game music on Spotify and listening to the main theme of Final Fantasy VII takes me to a happy place.

PlayStation 2 has sold a whopping 153.68 million units and reigns supreme as the top selling console of all time. The Nintendo DS has sold 154.33 million units, but you know what I'm saying. The PS2 was a phenomenon. PlayStation 2 up in the ride and is that Lorenzo-kitted? I don't really like rap either, but still.

PlayStation 3. What happened?

It wasn't for lack of great exclusives or raw hardware power. Microsoft's Xbox 360 dropped 5 days off a full year earlier than the PlayStation 3 and everyone got cozy with the new hotness. Especially in North America.

North America - Europe - Japan - Rest of World - Global
Sales from left to right, courtesy of VGChartz

As you can see, the PlayStation 3 sold 1.41 million units less than the Xbox 360 in total but was outsold by Microsoft's console by an absurd 16.28 million units here in North America. That's a telling figure. To me, it suggests that the full year that Microsoft had on Sony was time enough to establish a devoted fan base for the system, but first year global sales for the Xbox 360 came in at just under 6 million units whereas the PlayStation 3 sold just over 6 million units.

So what the hell does this all mean? Obviously, the Xbox 360 sold very well in the North America but was outsold by the PlayStation 3 everywhere else. That is the only concrete data you can extrapolate from that because there are so many variables to consider. Marketing, pricing, first impressions, games, included hardware, etc.

The main event of Sony's PlayStation Meeting tomorrow is the likely announcement of the PlayStation 4. We will most likely not be told anything about a release date or pricing. Why? Because Sony wants to see what Microsoft is bringing to the table before they show their entire hand. Plus, I'm not sure even Sony knows how much the PS4 will be launching at.

Here are the things Sony needs to get right this time around:

1) E3 2006. Sony CEO Kaz Hirai comes up on stage and tells us the PlayStation 3 is going to set us back $599 for the 60GB version and $499 for 20GB. Remember, the Xbox 360 was already available for $399. I realize you're trying to make up for research and development costs and all that, but this is the nature of the business you are in. You want people to buy your product, don't put an absurd sticker price on it.

2) With a new generation comes new controllers. No one cared about the Sixaxis. Make the controller all-PlayStation and make other companies want to emulate YOU.

3) Shortly after launch, PlayStation 3 had a plethora of available models to choose from. Roll out a strong lineup and stick to it for a while. You ever stood in GameStop for a few minutes and just listen to the dumb questions people ask? "Does this play my old games? Can I go on the internet with this? How many controllers come with it? What games do I get?" Most consumers are too lazy and stupid (sorry, but it's true) to do their own 60 seconds worth of research, so make it as easy as possible for them.

4) If you're going to show games tomorrow, lay on the next-generation coating as thick as possible. Let people say "so THIS is what next-gen console gaming is going to look like". First impressions are everything. First impressions from PlayStation 3 was "this costs a lot more than the Xbox 360 and even though the PS3 may be technically superior, I can't really tell the difference, so hell with it". Don't make that mistake again. Sony needs to show that they are the face of next-gen consoles.

5) While was using that terrible headset that comes with the Xbox 360 to chat with each other, PlayStation 3 choose to pretty much ignore that entire aspect of online gaming. The new PlayStation 4 controller appears to be rectifying the issue, but it's still worth mentioning because it was a big deal for the Xbox 360 and PS3.

6) The launch lineup needs to not be all sports games and maybe 2 other titles worth a second look. For real. It's 2013. Hit the ground running or just slam face first in to it. It's your choice, Sony.

7) Sony is already making great strides in improving PlayStation Network and I'm sure this progress will continue with the PS4.

I have high hopes for PlayStation 4

If they want to be really awesome, they'll launch with a Final Fantasy VII or Final Fantasy IX HD remaster that is exclusive to Sony consoles. THAT WOULD DRIVE SALES, I GUARANTEE IT. But that will probably never happen because it's what fans actually want and it's not really up to Sony. I'm just saying, it'd be nice...


A release date and pricing options will likely not be available at tomorrow's PlayStation Meeting. For all we know, there won't even be any hands-on models for people to mess with. We'll see. Oh, and I expect they'll announce a price drop for the PS Vita, settling around $199. Long overdue.

I'm excited and you should be, too. These are exciting times.

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