The PlayStation strategy has downplayed Sony’s smaller developers, thereby negatively affecting human lives and games.
Just from looking at them, it’s clear that Microsoft and Sony’s respective business models couldn’t be more different if they tried, with the latter company’s approach often winning out. One seeks to build up a vast library of games, while the other prioritizes its work with a handful of prized developers. Sony manages to drive sales of its PlayStation consoles by cultivating beloved exclusives from such studios as Naughty Dog and Guerrilla Games. This tendency for Sony to prevail in the console market through reliance on its first-party studios goes back years, being most prominent during the early days of the eighth console generation.
In the past, Sony’s high-caliber exclusives helped the PlayStation 4 sprint ahead of its competitor, the Xbox One. While Sony focused on delivering compelling games with boundary-pushing technology and exciting narratives, Microsoft centered an all-purpose entertainment system. Consumers were not keen on a deprioritization of games and gravitated toward Sony’s console. Of course, Sony’s solid strategy and gains during the eighth generation could never outright stop Microsoft from finding its footing, given enough time.
Microsoft may have been slow to pivot to a new business strategy, but once they did the Xbox brand was all the better for it. Recognizing their mistakes with the Xbox One’s launch, Microsoft sought to ensure a steady path forward by placing veteran employee Phil Spencer in charge of the Xbox division. Spencer, in turn, would guide Xbox towards crucial decisions like shifting away from anti-consumer policies and shaping the Xbox Series X/S around the idea of bringing gamers into the future. Such bold advances in company policy stand in stark contrast to the current state of Sony and its PlayStation brand.
Whereas Xbox has started to embrace the direction in which game consumption is headed, PlayStation remains wedded to its traditional business tactics, the flaws of which grow more apparent with each passing day. As mentioned, PlayStation, and by extension Sony, chose to emphasize the efforts of a small number of AAA studios in order to dominate the console market. Unfortunately, this strategy has had the downside of downplaying and marginalizing Sony’s smaller developers, thereby affecting the variety of games and the value of Sony’s broader catalogue. The problems at Sony run deeper than just stubborn adherence to tradition, however.
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